Stryj was liberated by Soviet troops on August 8, 1944. That day two soldiers from the Red Army came to Mrs. Bilinska's house looking for hidden weapons. They immediately discovered their hiding place in the cellar. They ordered them to leave the cellar, but they refused. They said they could not be sure that the front wouldn't move again and the Germans would return. The solders left. They stayed a few days longer and then they left under the cover of night so Mrs. Bilinska's life would not be in jeopardy for hiding Jews.
After leaving their hiding place the went to see if any other relative, Gross or Edelstein, had survived. The only survivor they could find in Stryj was a cousin of my grandfather named Imek Edelstein. With the help of my father's nurse maid, who my grandparents gave their furniture and some belongings (the photographs in this story, e.g.) they found a place to live. The war continued and Jews serving in the Red Army helped survivors obtain food and clothing. My Aunt Lillian returned to Stryj in February 1945 and was reunited with my grandfather and father. Shortly thereafter, the Soviets came to Stryj to recruit additional soldiers, so my father changed his date of birth on his identity papers to one year younger to avoid conscription.
The Move To Krakow
In March 1945, the Soviets announced that they were annexing the region Stryj was located and were providing rail transportation to those who wished to resettle in areas in the west under Polish control. My grandparents and their family took their few belongings and left on a train going to Krakow. A journey that should have taken one day, lasted one week. Whenever the train's engine was needed by the Soviet Army, it was uncoupled and the cars were left on a railroad siding and the passengers had to wait until it's return. When they arrived in Krakow they found an apartment in which to live. Life there was difficult, Jews were avoided, anti-semitism was no different from where they had been.
My Father, Aunt and Grandmother in Krakow
The city was still in disarray as the war was continuing. The family found another relative, Manek Hirth, the brother of the wife of my grandmother's brother Munio Gross, who was a soldier in the Red Army. He brought in contraband merchandise from Czechoslovakia and Hungary (cigarettes, liquor etc.) which my grandfather helped to sell to earn money for his family to live on. One of the tenants, who lived in their apartment building, made candy which was in great demand. My father sold this candy to supplement the family income.
In order to go to high school in Krakow as a non-Jew, to avoid anti-semitism, my father obtained false papers and went to school under the name Bilinski (the masculine form of Mrs. Belinska name). He became best friends with another student named Kazimierz, who also was secretly a Jew. They probably were the only Jews in the entire school.
My Father and his friend Kazimierz
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