The Priest of Porozow

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An Act of Kindness by the Priest of Porozow

An article posted on the net by the Toronto-based Polish Educational Foundation in North America relates an account by Kalman Barakin, the son of Shmuel Barakin of Bialystok, born in 1913. The story is quoted at length in
Życie i zagłada Żydów polskich 1939–1945 (The Life and Destruction of Polish Jewry, 1939-1945) compiled by Polish historians Michał Grynberg and Maria Kotowska and published in Warsaw in 2003.

Barakin's 28 pages of testimony, hand-written in Yiddish in June, 1948, include accounts of the martyrdom of the Bialystok Jews, conspiracy activities in the Bialystok ghetto and the Jewish partisans fighting in the Bialystok region between 1941-1943 . The story below is of Jews from Bialystok and other neighboring towns who found refuge with the Catholic priest in Porozow. Here is the account:

“The Germans entered Parasowo [Porozowo] only in the evening [of June 24, 1941]. Immediately they ordered all the men from the town to assemble in the main square. There they separated the Jews from the Catholics. The Jews were lined up in rows and counted, and every tenth one was told to leave the ranks and line upon on one side.


"About twenty men were assembled in this way. The Germans immediately put them against a wall and shot them. My friend and I were in the square standing among the Jews; we were counted, but were fortunate not to have been among the ten and thanks to that we remained alive.


"Then all of the men, both Jews and non-Jews, were locked up in the church. It was very tight there, and there was simply no air to breathe. We were kept in the church the entire day, and then released. The inhabitants of the town returned to their homes. We and other Jews, refugees from Białystok and other localities, about 24 persons all together, went to search out local Jews, but they did not allow us into their homes for fear of the Germans.


"We therefore went to the priest of Parasowo - Grabowski, who took us in and received us very cordially. There were already about 25 Poles, who worked in the airfields, in his home. A group of Germans came to Grabowski and wanted to take us away, but the priest rescued us. He told them that we were workers who worked in the airfields and the Germans left us alone.


"Rev. Grabowski kept us at his house for all of seven days. He gave us food and drink free of charge. He constantly excused himself that he did not receive us the way he should … He then obtained from the Wehrmacht [military authorities] a certificate allowing us to return to Białystok without obstacles. We returned to Białystok as a group of 24 persons on the first or second of July.”

© 2004-2020  Scott D. Seligman