1 Execution site(s)
Mieczysław B., born in 1945: “During the war, my parents hid a Jewish family in the attic of this very house. It was a family of five people: father, mother, mother’s sister and two children, a boy and a girl. They hid in my parent’s house for several months, until someone denounced them to the Germans. In 1942, gendarmes from Krosno arrived in Stępina. There were Polish blue marine policemen with them. They broke into the house, screaming. That day, the three adult Jews were in the attic, while the two children were sitting on the bed in the main room with my parents. The Germans dragged the Jews down from the attic very brutally and they took them outside. One Jewess started to run but she was caught and shot alongside her sister and brother-in-law. Then, the Germans came back for the children. They were shot at the same place as their parents, on the meadow next to our house. Afterwards, the Germans ordered my father to bury the bodies of Jews, which he did. He dug a pit next to our house and buried all five of them there (…)”. (Witness N°1173, interviewed in Stępina, on October 24, 2020)
“In 1942 in Stępina, the gendarmes shot six Jews. The bodies of the victims were buried at the place of execution, next to Wojciech Bieszczad’s house, in which the Jews were hiding. Bodies were exhumed in 1968 and reburied at the Jewish cemetery in Krosno”. [Rejestr miejsc i faktów zbrodni popełnionych przez okupanta hitlerowskiego na ziemiach polskich w latach 1939-1945: województwo podkarpackie / [opracowanie, Główna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce przy współudziale Okregowej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Lodzi] (Register of places and facts of crimes committed by the Nazi occupied on Polish soil in 1939-1945: Subcarpathian Voivodeship)]
Stępina is a small village in the administrative district of Gmina Frysztak, within Strzyżów County, in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship. The village lies about 7km from Frysztak, which, on the eve of the Second World War, was a very important Jewish settlement. During the interwar period, circa. 75% of the inhabitants of Frysztak were Jewish.
When the German occupation started, the construction of one of Hitler’s bunkers began in Stępina. The bunker was called Anlage Süd and was included in the Führer Headquarters complex. It was built between 1940 and 1941 using slave-labor, mainly from the Szebnie concentration camp located nearby, as well as by the Jews from the ghetto established in neighboring village of Frysztak. Around 10.000 forced laborers perished during the bunker’s construction, mainly Poles and Polish Jews, as well as Soviet POWs, Ukrainians and Romani people.
It remains unknown if there was a Jewish community living in Stępina before the outbreak of the war. However, YIU’s team managed to locate the grave of five Jews caught in hiding and killed in Stępina during the German occupation. It is quite probable that the Jewish victims came from nearby Frysztak, where the inhabitants of surrounding villages used to go shopping. The five Jews (according to the Polish archives there were six of them), were hiding in the attic of a small house owned by a non-Jewish family of farmers named Bieszczad. Someone unfortunately denounced the family. In 1942, several gendarmes from Krosno, accompanied by Polish blue marine policemen, arrived at Mr. Bieszczad’s house. They found five Jews hiding there, three adults and two children. They were all dragged out of the house and shot in the meadow right next to the house. After the shooting, the gendarmes ordered Mr. Bieszczad to dig a grave at the execution site and bury the victims’ bodies, which he did. The bodies of the Jewish family remained buried there for more than two decades. According to available archival information, as well as YIU’s witness’ testimony, the bodies were exhumed in 1968 and reburied at the Jewish cemetery in Krosno.
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