Sunday, April 8, 2007

Ukrainian Jean Kowalyk

"Jean Kowalyk began to fathom the Nazis' grand scheme. One of Dowalyk's dearest childhood friends was a Jewish elementary school classmate, Blumka Friedman. Kowalyk had not seen her around the village recently. One day, as Kowalyk was passing the newly built labor camp, she saw Blumka. "What are you doing there!" Kowalyk shouted to her from behind the camp's barbed-wire fence. The question died on her lips as she looked about at the ragged, emaciated forms huddled inside. Kowalyk's father had died in the past year and her two brothers had just been dragged off to the Russian army. The miser she saw in that labor camp resonated within her. Without thinking, and ignoring the nearby Gestapo guard, Dowalyk reached into her handbag and threw her lunch sandwich over he fence to Blumka. From then on, whenever she should, she sneaked food to Blumka and other camp inmates. Even a leg wound, received when a camp guard saw Kowalyk throwing bread and shot at her, did not stop her."

"On night... Kowalyk answered a knock at her door. There stood Dr. Berger. "He came into the room and grabbbed my mother and started to kiss her and cry," Kowalyk remembered. "Pleas help!" he kept saying. "Please save my life." Kowalyk agreed and told him to return the following night. She then ran to her brother's house and told him the situation. He, in turn, called on their sister's husband, and the two of them built a double wall to escape from the attic which was to his hiding place. The next night a grateful Dr. Berger arrived. Jean and her mother had his hiding place reacy. A few minutes later, however, they heard a knock on the window. To Kowalyk's horror, there stood nineteen other lice-infested Jews seeking shelter. Dr. Berger had mentioned their offer to a few friends. Kowalyk pulled them indoors and then dashed to her brother and sister for help. Between the three of them, they found hiding places for all nineteen."

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