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Woroniecka Prokopowicz Sofija

* 1930 – 2019
* Recognized in 2000

Pakalinškės village cemetery

Woroniecka Prokopowicz Sofija

54.633554 25.378965

About the rescuer and the rescue story

In the summer of 1941, when rumors of the creation of a ghetto in neighboring Wilno and the extermination in the surrounding towns reached Šalčininkėliai, Lithuania, the three Schneider brothers, Hirsch, Gershon and Gedaliah, and their friend Shlomo Lemelman (later, Saul Leyman) decided that if the Lithuanian police also came to their town to take the Jews away, they would flee. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah 1941, when they saw Lithuanian soldiers entering the town, the four fled to the neighboring village of Žlougtai, to the home of their old acquaintances, the Woronieckis, who took them in. The Woronieckis were a family of six, the parents Józef and Maria and their four children Wiktor, Helena, Bronisława and Zofia aged 13 to 22. They were a poor farm family, kindhearted and ethical people. The father Józef had good relations with the Schneider family who were timber merchants. He remained loyal to them in their time of need and he also brought up his children in this spirit. He hid the four Jewish boys in the loft of the cowshed and he shared with them his meager pittance without hesitation. Moreover, he knew that his wards were religious and did not eat non-kosher food. Therefore, he ordered his family to give them only dairy food from the only cow they had.

The danger that menaced the four concealed boys and their rescuers was not only from the Germans but also from partisans in the vicinity who suspected Woroniecki of hiding Jews and harassed him. They took the eldest son Wiktor and tortured him in order to find out where they were hiding Jews but he did not yield. Despite the violence suffered by the Woroniecki family as a result of hiding the four Jewish boys, they never made them feel unwelcome. When the risk increased, the boys were sent to hide in the forest for periods of time, but their solid base until the liberation remained in the humble one-room home of the Woroniecki family. After the war, the Schneider brothers remained in contact with their rescuers. On one of Gedaliah's visits to the Woroniecki home to recuperate, the son Wiktor saved him from the hands of Polish partisans who sought to murder him.

Sofija's family says:

Our grandmother devoted her entire life to her family. She loved her husband and her only daughter. She always tried to be a good housewife. Her first priority was always the people close to her and the interests of her family. Grandma always got along well with people: relatives and neighbours. There was no greed, no anger, no jealousy, no anxiety over nothing and no negative thoughts in her. She was always ready to help those in need, she was able to sympathise and support in a difficult moment. And we, Zofija's granddaughters, will always be grateful to our grandmother for bringing up her daughter. She had the strength in reserve to give her granddaughters all her care, warmth and attention.

Rescued persons (Yad Vashem web page):

Saul Lemelman
Gedaliah Schneider
Gershon Schneider
Hirsch Schneider

Information collected using:

Memories of the families of Sofija, Helena and Bronisława

54.633554 25.378965

Sofija and Bronislawa

Maria, Sofija and Jozef

Sofija with her husband

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