From the testimony of Halina Wind Preston 26 July 1977
….On June 1, 1943 the ghetto was surrounded. Our barracks stood on Peltewna St. We did not know what to do. We went down with a group into the basement, through a pipe, steps, water, a tunnel, other pipes….Finally we were crawling in the sewers of Lwow. We heard a rush of water, suddenly we were standing on a narrow ledge against a wall. In front of us flew the Peltow river. Along this ledge very slowly and carefully people were moving. Sometimes there was a splash, when someone slipped and fell in or couldn’t stand the stress any more and deliberately jumped in.
Suddenly I heard the man (he was a hunchback) Berestecki shout: “They’re here”. He led us into a side-pipe. There I saw the man I knew as Socha. Socha had been a thief and as such always familiar with the sewers. When the Russians came to Lwow, he was “rehabilitated”, became a worthy proletarian and worker in the sewers. His colleague was Stefan Wroblewski […]. Together they worked in the sewers and took care of us. (While serving one of his sentences, Socha met a cleaning woman in prison, Magdalena, who had an illegitimate baby: Stepha. He married her and adopted the child. During this time he came into contact with Jews from the ghetto and decided to save about 20. I was number 21.
Socha told us to stay put and he would bring us food the next day. Among our group there was a family Chigier (Chyrowski): Jerzy, the father, Peppa, the mother and two children, Christine and Pawel (7 and 4 respectively). One of the women was pregnant Weinbergowa. We were brought food every day, always by a different manhole, so as not to arouse suspicion. Socha and Wroblewski told us about the ghetto being completely liquidated and not to move. We stayed on: the weeks stretched into months. The grandmother and the baby born to Weinbergowa both died a natural death. Several of the group decided to leave and find other places of hiding. None ever returned. Three of them left one morning and we found their bodies the same evening. Among those who left and did not return were the Weises.
Every week Socha would take our laundry and return it washed and ironed by Magdalena. She did all the shopping. He brought us a prayer-book which he had found in the ghetto. For Pessach – since he knew we could not eat bread – he brought a truck of potatoes and shoveled it down through several manholes. We were very careful of the potatoes, always eating the rotten first, until we realized that the rats were having a feast on the fresh ones.
One day Stalingrad fell, they brought us vodka to celebrate.
The Germans retreated, the Russians advanced. We heard shots. On July 27, 1944 Socha shouted down “Get ready, you’re free”. One by one we climbed out, some reluctantly, since they were still afraid. Later came Chigier, ‘the captain of the ship’. The manhole ended in the courtyard of a house. Inside there was an apartment waiting, Magdalena with her daughter and a table with cake and vodka. A real celebration. Socha insisted that I have an extra room, since I was single. We stayed there for a time, then left together with the Sochas for Gliwice.
All my family in Turka perished.
Loepold Socha died in May 1945, run over by a Russian truck. As he lay on the pavement with the blood dripping into the sewers, the Poles crossed themselves and said that it was God’s punishment for hiding Jews. Magdalena and Stepha are still living in Gliwice. I send her parcels regularly.
Chigier’s father had had some money hidden. Chigier told Socha where and asked him to get it, which Sohca did, brought the money straight to Chigier, who then paid out of it for our food. When funds were running low, towards the end, we offered to go and leave what there was for the Chigiers, whose money it was after all. But Socha emphatically said “no”. All the people must eat, he, as boss, insisted.
Wroblewski and Socha both risked their lives every single day.