JASIOWA

THE CROOKED MIRROR 2 - JASIOWA

And I prize Him too!
No, I'm not Jasiowa1). I am Janowa2).
You know. These young ones do not know anything today.
Jasiowa's cottage was close to ours, but they have been here years ago.
They left the village after the war.
Of course, I remember this. I will not forget it till the end of my life.
Jews? Some of them have been loitered about here.
Especially, when the Germans have liquidated those ghettos.
Then some of Jews fled into the countryside here and into the forest.
The little girl? This was Marysia, Mateychak's youngest daughter.
She was three years old. Very talented was she. She became a schoolmistress!
No. I was not involved in hiding anyone at that time.
I think it was in 1943 someone was around our barn.
But only in the nighttime. Several times I put some eggs and bread there.
But when Jankiel came and asked me if he could hide there with his family, I chased him away.
He was very rich before the war. He owned the mill.
I chased him away because my husband did not like the Jews.
And Jankiel even more, because he cheated him once for a sack of flour.
Not Jankiel himself, because he had people working for him.
But when my husband complained, Jankiel laughed at him.
And of course because of all these German gendarmes and our policeman.
They have received a denunciation, and when they came to Mateychak's farm and found three Jews who were hiding there, they shot the Jews and all Mateychak's family too.
Only Marysia survived because this morning they had to work in the fields and Mateychak's wife has left her in my place.
The Kielonki's family farm was also burned down, because they kept a Jewess there. Probably for several months. But at the scarcity time, it was so hard that they told her to go. And she was so upset about it, that when they caught her and took to the police station, she told them about Kielonki's hiding.
Look what a witch! They kept her as long as they could.
She had to die anyway. Couldn't she keep her mouth shut?!
So I chased Jankiel away. And they went to Mushniak's for the second time.
And first after the war the village has learned to know that two Jewish families have survived here.
The biggest surprise was that one family has been hidden at Jasiowa's farm.
They were always short for everything, and the kids were running around almost naked. Such misery.
People in the village were very upset about Jasiowa's hiding business.
After all, she had put in danger her neighbors and maybe the entire village.
And when a year later, one of those survivors came with some presents, it became too much for the villagers, and Jasiowa with the family had to move to another place.
No. No one had a grudge against Mushniak.
He used to give a round of beer in the pub to all and brag how much he has pumped Jankiel for.
Nobody envied, because Mushniak drank all this money away in the pub.
It has been said that Jankiel and his family were hiding at Mushniak's place twice.
The first time until Jankiel had run empty for money.
The drunken Mushniak told that at that time he has proposed they could stay if he could "play" with their daughter Rachel. Then they went away. And probably at that time, they were in our barn.
Then they returned to Mushniak, and Mushniak's wife was angry because Mushniak could like that arrangement with Rachel very much. A miracle that she did not denounce them. But she was probably afraid that the gendarmes would punish the Mushniak's too.
The little Rachel? She was 16 then.
Mushniak boasted that she did not defend herself too eager.
The only trouble occurred when she became pregnant and had a miscarriage.
No. Mushniak did not get any medal.
When the Russians came, Jankiel immediately went to them with a complaint.
But their politruk (political commander), when he got to know what it was all about, he just began to laugh. And asked where the girl was.
So Jankiel vanished as quickly as it was possible.
The politruk went to Mushniaks and when they got drunk, he supposedly praised Mushniak: "You have not just saved the peoples' lives. You have also made from a little girl a grown-up woman. You lucky bastard!"
Such time it was!

1) Jasiowa - nickname of the wife of Jasiek (little Jan), used In Polish countryside
2) Janowa - nickname of the wife of Jan, used In Polish countryside