Father Jakub Pawłowski (born in 1931 as Hersz Griner) from Zamość about his Jewish roots and the circumstances of how he had survied WW II and adopted Catholic faith
An English resume of an interview in Hebrew that took place in Israel, as a part of the Polish Roots in Israel project. Interviewee name: Father Jakub PAWŁ OWSKI (Jakub Hersz Zvi GRINER)
Jakub Hersz GRINER was born on 23.8.1931 in the city of Zamość, in the province of Lubelskie (Lublin), at Mikołaja Reja 26 St.; next to the Poland-Ukraine border after WW2. During the German occupation (1939 - 1945), Zamość was part of the Generalna Gubernia administrative area. The Jews constituted a significant portion of the surrounding population, particularly in cities such as Tarnogród, Tyszowce, Krasnobrody, Józefów, Uchanie, and others, where they constituted over 50%. Zamość was built in the 16th century by the Zamojski's and in 1939 their descendants still held the majority of all surrounding land.
The Griner's were not poor, nor rich. They ran a small business of wood and coal; in summer the whole family used to travel to different villages, where they bought "fruit on tree". In those villages Hersz used to play with the Polish neighbors' children.
It was an extremely religious family; Hersz regularly attended the synagogue on Shabbat and Feast days with his father and his brother and everybody prayed with devotion. He still remembers the Jewish Feasts and how seriously the family dealt with every custom and obligation.
At home everybody spoke Yiddish; at the Heder he learned Hebrew with a Melamed, and he knew a bit of Polish, from his neighbors and from his summer visits. The relationship between Jews and their Polish neighbors was fine, although not always.
He has only good memories from this period of his life.
His father, Menachem Mendel, was born in 1898 (in the tenants list: 1897) Zamość. He was a very religious person. He had a small business of wood and coal.
He went to work one day and never returned.
His mother, Myriam Mariem SZTYCER, was born in 1898 in Izbica. She had always been a housewife. She was murdered together with her two daughters.
His parents married on 20.12.1922 and had four children, Hersz was the youngest one:
- Chaim, born in 1924, ran away to Soviet Union; he survived and immigrated to Israel,
- Szajndla Shoshana Malka, born in 1926, murdered,
- Sura Sara, born in 1929, murdered,
- Hersz, the interviewee.
Grandparents from his father side – Wolf "Welwel" GRINER, married to Sura Sara BOJM. They had 5 children:
- Jakub Yenkel, lived in the USA,
- Moshe Moszko, born 1887, murdered with all his family (2 children or more),
- Izrael Eliyahu, murdered,
- Rachel, born 1894, married Izaak SZPORER, born 1892, they had 5 children: Wolf-Izrael, born 1917, Sura Sara, born 1920, Pesia, BORN 1923, Nusan, born 1927, Szloma, born 1932, all murdered,
- Menachem Mendel, Hersz Griner's father, murdered,
Grandparents from his mother side – Besides Mariem, we only know about her sister Ella, married to Abraham ZISMYLECH; the entire STYCER family was murdered, except one relative living in Jerusalem.
Chaim, the oldest brother used to read papers and commented that the Jews' condition would be aggravated if the Germans took control of Poland; Hersz was far from imagining how quickly it was going to happen, in September 1939, just when he was supposed to enter school first class.
What Hersz remembers from the moment the war broke out, was the endless German fighter planes over Zamość, their terrible noise and the bombs they launched on Zamość and the entire area. How could he forget? Their home was burnt and the family went to Ella, Mariem's sister, his mother, married to Abraham ZISMYLECH, living in Gminna Street no 35A, apartment 9, together with many relatives; the situation was so desperate that the entire neighborhood abandoned their homes and ran to the fields, the canals under the roads, anywhere out of Zamość.
After a short time, the Soviets arrived and informed the inhabitants that everyone was free to travel east, to the Soviet Union; among those who did it, Chaim, Hersz's brother. Could he have felt what was going to happen? When he said good bye to the family, Hersz was not there; everybody searched for Hersz, but he was not found, and Chaim was most sad.
After Chaim left, the family members talked about him constantly, how much they missed him and how worried they were about him. He used to write letters, but after a certain time the letters stopped.
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