Some Were...

Neighbors

Many neighbors were looked at as helpers, bystanders, as well as participants of the negative acts that occured by citizens of Europe daily. Neighbors helped hide Jews, risking their lives and becoming righteous gentiles. Neighbors, though, also took advantage of their neighbors. They took what they could from the Jews homes and apartments after the Jews' were taken away.


Vasiutu Wegrzynowska

Vasiutu Wegrzynowska

Vasiutu Wegrzynowska was a widow who had three children. They lived in the city of Kolomyja in the district called Stanislawów. During the 1930s, Vasiuta worked on the farm of the Jewish Helper family. Maks and Henya Helper treated her and the other workers very well. When 1943 came, and the Jewish family was in need for shelter, Wegrzynowska helped them by hiding them in her home and her yard. The Helpers were hidden under the floor of the cowshed in a bunker that was built especially for the purpose of keeping them safe. The area was quite small, as they could only sit or lie down and there was no room for movement. For a year and a half, Vasiutu and her three children cared for the Helper family and brought them food. Authorities even came and searched the Wegrzynowskas' home many times and never found the hidden bunker. In late March 1944, after the liberation occurred, the Helper family exited their hideout for the first time and Vasiuta went with them through the streets of their village to Kolomyja. Vasiuta walked proudly, as she was proud that her family managed to hide and rescue three Jews despite all of the conditions during the war. Many of her neighbors though did not appreciate what she did for the Helper family and later that year, the Wegrzynowska family was murdered by a gang that was looking for revenge against people who assisted in hiding the Jews during the war. The Helper family eventually immigrated to Israel, after the shock of learning that their protectors during the war were murdered due to the goodness that they provided the Helper family.


Ransacking of Apartments

Apartment destroyed by neighbors Daily, throughout Europe, Jews would be taken out of their houses and apartments to stand in the street for hours and eventually would be taken away in trucks. The neighbors that lived near the Jewish families did not know if their friends and neighbors would be returning to their homes, but that did not matter to them. There were also times when the Nazis would go in and begin to ransack the apartment while the family was still there. The Nazis would throw out the window furnishings, pillowcases, blankets and other items. Neighbors and other people would be waiting down on the street for the items. It was simply a free for all, where people would grab what they could. Families would watch terrified as family members were hit and punched while their personal items were thrown out the window. The Jews watched their neighbors take advantage of their situation and they couldn't fight back.