A Haggadah Written in Hiding
The Landau family, Shmaryahu and Sarah and their children Elimelekh, Judah & Tamar lived in Borislav, Poland where they enjoyed a comfortable life. Shmaryahu Landau was a central figure in the Jewish community and was the owner of an oil field and a sizeable sawmill that supplied wood for export. Sarah managed a large fabric store and the family lived in the center of the city.
In 1939 the Soviets occupied the area but after the German invasion of the Soviet Union the lives of the Jews in Borislav became intolerable between general abuse and roundups. Shmaryahu and Elimelekh obtained work as “essential laborers” which enabled them to survive the roundups, but after one particularly harsh roundup in February 1943, Shmaryahu and Sara understood that all the Jews were destined for annihilation and they realized that in order to survive they would have to act.
Sara sent Salka Horowitz who worked in the store to search among their clients of well-known Polish families for someone who would hide the Landau family. Salka found Anna Kushiotko who agreed to hide them for a short period. The feeling was that after the battle of Stalingrad, the German collapse was imminent. The Polish family’s home, surrounded by a high wall was on the outskirts of the city. In one room with shuttered windows, the Landau family hid along with Salka Horowitz for a year and a half. Many times, they were forced to hide in the dark, airless space under the floorboards without food or drink until the danger passed.
The Kushiotko family took care of the Landaus with dedication. On Passover they allowed the Landaus to Kosher their oven and prepare Kosher matzahs from grain that the Landaus ground in a coffee grinder.
Shmaryahu Landau recited the text of the Haggadah from memory to his son Elimelekh, who wrote and decorated it.
At the end of the war Shmaryahu helped Anna and her two daughters to leave the Soviet area and move to Krakow.
After the war, Elimelekh made his way to Eretz Israel on his own, arriving already in 1945. Tamar was placed in the children’s home run by Sarah Stern-Katan and in 1946 she came to Kvuzat Yavneh. Judah immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1947 and Sara and Shmaryahu followed a year later. Salka Horowitz immigrated to Israel in 1963.
Upon his arrival in the country, Elimelekh Landau joined the Haganah and fought in the War of Independence in the religious battalions. At Passover the battalion was under siege and Elimelekh once again printed a simple Haggadah on a typewriter for the soldiers. One copy of this Haggadah has also survived and has been donated to Yad Vashem.
Yad Vashem Artifacts collection, Gift of Pinchas Landau & Yaron Landau, Tel Aviv