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Hidden in a Hayloft

Holocaust survivor Feiga Beder with other Jewish youth in Israel after WWII (Photo: Yad Vashem)

Feiga Beder was a young girl when the Nazis invaded Poland, and had already seen much tragedy. Feiga's mother died when the girl was only two, leaving ten children behind. After the Nazi invasion, the little Jewish girl's father was murdered in their town's market. After one family took Feiga in, then turned her away after one night, the five-year-old girl was left all alone.

But Feiga remembered hearing her older brother Nissan mention the name of a kindly Christian neighbor, Wojciech Woloszczuk. The girl made her way to the Woloszczuk farm, and was taken in, surprised to find that her brother, his wife and two children, and two other Jews were already there. Wojciech hid the seven Jews in his hayloft, feeding and caring for them despite hardly having enough to feed his own family.

With food scarce, Feiga's brother left the hayloft twice to find something for them to eat. On his third excursion, Nissan did not return. He had been caught by the Gestapo. Despite being tortured, Nissan did not give up the location of his family. Because of his silence, the Gestapo murdered the young man.

After three years, Feiga and her brother's wife and children left the hayloft. The other three were caught and murdered. But because of the years of malnutrition and inability to move in the tiny, cramped loft, Feiga had lagged behind. Because of this, her life was spared. Alone again, Feiga made it to Krakow, where she and a group of other Jewish children made aliyah (immigrated) to the Holy Land.

More than fifty years later, Feiga returned to Poland to find the man who had saved her life. Sadly, Wojciech Woloszczuk had passed away in 1963. But because of his selfless actions, this Polish Christian with the small but invaluable hayloft was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2011.

Tags: Advocates and Allies

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