Rescuers of Jews

Zajančkovska (Zajaczkowska) Filomena

Bronislaw and Filomena Zajaczkowski

Bronislaw and Filomena Zajaczkowski lived on the outskirts of the village of Prienai, in the district of Swieciany, in the Vilna area. In December 1942, one of the village residents, Majewski, came to them and asked them to shelter two Jews –Wulf and Miriam Bratanski, from the nearby town of Podbrodziel. In October 1942, almost the entire Bratanski family had been killed during the liquidation of the ghetto. Only Wulf and Miriam survived and in December, they reached the village of Prienai. Wulf found his prewar friend, Majewski, and asked him for shelter. Majewski lived in the center of the village and was afraid to hide Jews in his house. However, he did let them hide there temporarily. In the meantime, he turned to the Zajaczkowskis, who agreed to hide the Bratanskis. "The Zajaczkowskis were simple, religious people with kind hearts, and even though they were aware of the risks involved in hiding Jews agreed to let us hide in their home," wrote Miriam in her testimony.
The Bratanskis hid with the Zajaczkowskis for five months. Then, one day, Germans entered the village and began looking for partisans and Jews. The Bratanskis had to leave the Zajaczkowskis' house. This was in May 1943. They went into the woods, hoping to meet the partisans. In the woods, however, Miriam contracted a skin illness and Wulf decided to contact a doctor friend of his from their hometown. He wrote him a letter and Miriam took the letter over to the Zajaczkowskis, who they hoped would contact the doctor. Bronislaw welcomed her back very warmly into his home and said that three partisans were sleeping in his barn, and he added that perhaps through their help the Bratanskis could join the partisans. Miriam talked with them and, despite the suspicions that their behavior aroused, they agreed to meet her and her brother in the woods on the following night. After returning to the forest, Miriam told her brother about the meeting and her suspicions. Five days later, the Bratanskis entered the Zajaczkowskis' house at night. Bronislaw was lying in bed, terrified and horribly beaten. He told them that the so-called partisans, after not meeting the Bratanskis in the woods, returned to his home and beat him. When he refused to admit that he was helping Jews, they decided to murder him. He was saved due to the intervention of the village bailiff who said that he was not normal and that he was in no state to help anyone. Bronislaw told the Bratanskis that in his new situation he could no longer help them and advised them to leave the village as soon as possible. He gave them supplies for the journey. The Bratanskis survived the war and immigrated to Israel but never forgot their benefactors. The Bratanskis helped the Zajaczkowskis however they could and even hosted the Zajaczkowskis' daughter Wanda. Miriam also visited her wartime saviors twice in Lithuania. Even after Bronislaw and Filomena passed away, the Bratanskis maintained a warm relationship with their children.
On May 16, 1993, Yad Vashem recognized Bronislaw Zajaczkowski and his wife, Filomena Zajaczkowska, as Righteous Among the Nations.

From the Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations
Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
Poland. Volume Editors Sara Bender and Shmuel Krakowski.
Yad Vashem Jerusalem, 2004

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