10.08.2019 | Redaktor

Grave in the forest: new witness

Maybe you remember the story I shared back in June? Jewish family hiding during the war on the outskirts of Brzeźnica village, was discovered and shot in the forest.

In May I visited that place together with Mr. Marian Put, a local history enthusiast who – although not a direct witness to those events – discovered many details and described everything in his book. Shortly after the war, father showed Mr. Marian a place in the forest where the Jewish family was shot, but it was difficult to determine the exact location of the grave after all these years.
In June, we visited this place again, this time together with Mr. Alexander Schwarz from the Foundation “Forgotten”, who explored the area using a GPR (as you know, according to the principles of Judaism, it is not allowed to exhumate bodies or do any invasive tests). After exploring a larger area, Mr. Schwarz located two places of similar size in which the grave of this Jewish family could be located. For some time we were stuck – it seemed impossible to choose between these 2 locations. However, recenty we’ve learned that there exists another witness, elder cousin of Mr. Marian Put. On August 6 we were in the forest again, this time five of us: Mr. Schwarz and myself were accompanied by Mr. Marian Put, Mr. Józef Put and the owner of the plot on which this grave is almost certainly located.

Józef Put at the place where Jews had been executed

I recorded the testimonies of Mr. Józef on video, so the photos are not of good quality (I cut them out of the video). But here is the transcription from that recording:

– Here we all came together and said a prayer for the dead. There were probably five of us, I was the oldest. Myself, my brothers and 2 kids of our neighbours, the same age as me. We came by ourselves. News spread around the village that Jews who had been hiding with Cichoński family, were shot. We heard shots. People worked in the fields, and there were several rifle shots. And the next day my mother sent us into the field: “Go, look where these graves are.” Back then there were fields here, there was no forest. At that time I was the oldest among them, and I found it. This grave was as wide as my two shoes, so narrow (according to the testimony of Mr. Józef, the grave was in a ditch at the plot border, probably because of it it was so narrow. AB) And this grave was quite long, maybe 2 meters. And so I thought that in this narrow grave the bodies could not be stacked side by side, only in layers. This grave must have been deep. So that they were thrown in, one on top of the other …

– It was more or less here. If we dug here, we would find remains. This grave was here. Along this shaft. And it had been visible for a long time before it was completely covered with leaves …

“It was more or less here. Between me and Marian. This grave was here. Along this shaft. And it had been visible for a long time before it was completely covered with leaves.”

Mr. Put was very moved when talking about it, he was almost crying.
In September Mr. Schwarz will come to this place once again with a GPR. I hope that we will be able to mark the exact boundaries of the grave and commemorate it properly. Maybe then, after over 75 years, these executed parents with two young children will find some peace. May their memory be an eternal blessing.

Aleksander Schwarz and józef Put
Józef Put recals the events from 1944.