A Family In Hiding

When my grandmother found out what happened to my father she implored Mrs. Bilinska to hide my father and grandfather with her. The only place Mrs. Bilinska could hide all of them was in a small root cellar, used to store potatoes, located under a trap door in the floor. Under the cover of night, in the first week of July 1943, they snuck out of their barracks and came to hide in her home.

The trap door was hidden under a rug so it would not to be discovered. (see illustrations below) The only source of light in the cellar was a tiny ground level window that only let light in. The only way to stand upright was to stand stretched out against the cellar stairs. My grandparents slept on the floor that was covered with small squares of wood provided by Mrs. Bilinska and my father slept on a child's sled. Mrs. Bilinska provided them with meager amount of food with money she received by selling jewelry and old clothing that my grandparents had. While they were hiding they passed the time sleeping, playing cards, reading whatever was available and keeping themselves free of lice. Here they remained in their tiny home for 13 months! Periodically, they could hear Mrs. Bilinska's anti-semitic neighbor bragging of how they (the Germans or Ukrainians) "got another one" and how happy she was about it. Mrs. Bilinska's daughter Irena knew that all three of them were hidden in the cellar, but in the beginning her daughter Jadwiga knew only of my grandmothers presence.

The Cellar

The Cellar
click image to enlarge

Back to Home Page Home PagePrevious Page Page 5A   Page 7 Next Page