Sunday, September 1, 2002
While browsing your Wielkie Oczy site I also noticed that you are
interested in any information related to the Wielkie Oczy Jews. This
information is not mine, since I was born after the war. This information
comes from my mother. Many times mother told me stories about Wielkie Oczy
before and during WWII. These were stories seen through the eyes of an
eight year old girl (my mother was born in 1932).
In her stories mother often mentioned the name of one family, friends
of my grandparents, parents of my mother. This was the Steinbruch family.
They lived close to the town square (Rynek), at what is today
Dabrowszczakow Street. The family consisted of the parents and children.
The names my mother remembered were: Ryfka, Belek, Abrum, Surka, Josko and
Donia. At this time these children were already adults. Mrs. Steinbruch
was ill and died before the expulsion of the Wielkie Oczy Jews to the
ghetto. This family was rather well off and had a farm, a field and a
wood. A son-in-law of Mr. Steinbruch who was married to Ryfka enlarged the
farm and added a floor to the house. He also had a clothes shop. Belek,
one of the sons, knew the German language and after expulsion to the
Krakowiec ghetto, he probably worked there as a translator. One of the
girls stayed with us for about two weeks. Mother said, "She lived in
the garret." Mother doesn't remember in what circumstance she arrived
to us. She escaped either from the transport taking her to the ghetto or
from the ghetto itself. During these two weeks she was very concerned
about her family and decided join them.
Later, Josko and Abrum twice came to Wielkie Oczy from the Jaworow
ghetto. The first time they came, they still looked relatively good. The
second time they were very wasted. My grandparents gave them some food (on
January 3, 1943 my grandmother wrote: "7 kg cereals, one leaf of
bread and 100 zloty were given to Steinbruch"). My grandfather tried
to persuade them to escape to the woods, but they said they would go back
because they want be together with their family.
The situation in Wielkie Oczy wasn't pleasant. One feared the
Ukrainians, who made up a big part of the population, as they feared the
When the Steinbruchs were still in Wielkie Oczy, my mother had a very
important task to fulfill on her way to the school. Every morning
grandmother prepared a bottle of milk, and mother would leave it in a
lilac bush, just behind a wicket in the Steinbruch's farmyard. If someone
had observed her or asked questions mother was prepared to say that she
was just "piddling behind the bush".
Many times mother asked herself after the war if someone from this
family had survived.
I'd like also to add that in my parents' house there is still a
remembrance of the Steinbruch family. It is a sewing machine that Mr.
Steinbruch sold to my grandfather for 1,000 rubles on July 20, 1941 (on
the piece of paper there is a signature of Belek Steinbruch).
I'm not adding too much information, because it is related to only one
family, but if you find it useful, please use it. It will be my modest
contribution to a remembrance of the life in Wielkie Oczy, the little
village on the eastern border, where before the war different nations,
cultures and religions were mixed like in a melting pot.
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