Piotr, Franciszek and Antoni Domański commemorated in Rzążew - Instytut Pileckiego

Piotr, Franciszek and Antoni Domański commemorated in Rzążew

The Pilecki Institute commemorated three residents of Rzążew, a father and two sons, who were murdered on 8 April 1943 for helping Jews during the German occupation.

Piotr Domański and his two sons, Franciszek and Antoni, lived in the village of Rzążew near Zbuczyn. Piotr’s wife, Marianna, had died before the outbreak of the war. The men ran a large farm, which was the source of their income. They were known in the neighborhood for their industriousness and kindness.

When, towards the end of August 1942, the Germans commenced the liquidation of the ghettos in Łosice, Mordy and Siedlce, many Jews escaped and were looking for hideouts: “Despite the death penalty imposed on such actions, the Domańskis decided to help a few or maybe even a dozen fugitives, probably from the ghetto in Mordy. They built a dugout together with the escapees in one of their barns on the outskirts of the village of Wielgorz, which the fugitives then used. The Domańskis provided them with food under the cover of night,” says Marcin Panecki, a historian from the Pilecki Institute.

In return for assistance, the Jews – taking all the necessary precautions – helped at the farm. Unfortunately they were noticed, and the Domańskis received warnings that they had roused the interest of the German gendarmerie. At around noon on 8 April 1943, the gendarmes raided their property and brutally led the three men out to the yard. When the Domańskis refused to admit that they were helping Jews, they were subjected to vicious torture. On orders from a drunk gendarme, the exhausted men had to run around the house. Then, barely conscious, they were transported to a nearby forest in Radzików-Stopki and shot. Piotr, Franciszek and Antoni Domański were buried in a common grave at the cemetery in Zbuczyn. On the day of the funeral the Germans forbade the family from entering the church. It is unknown what fate befell the Jews.

The Pilecki Institute commemorated the Domański family on 28 May in Rzążew.

Dr Wojciech Kozłowski, Director of the Pilecki Institute, said: "While visiting such places as Rzążew and other towns and villages around the country, I’m learning just how many people had never been asked about what happened. The Pilecki Institute’s mission as part of the ‘Called by Name’ project is to reach those people and ask this very question: what happened? Soon there won’t be anyone to ask. And let me be clear about this: much of this information cannot be found in archives. The Germans didn’t record everything they did – whom they murdered and where. Today we are honoring the sacrifice made by Piotr, Franciszek and Antoni Domański, and by doing so we hope to bring them justice".

The ceremony began with a holy mass in the Church of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr and the Guardian Angels, celebrated by Rev. Sławomir Brodawka, the parish priest.

Next, a plaque devoted to the memory of Piotr, Franciszek and Antoni Domański was unveiled near the chapel in Rzążew.

"Giving up one’s life for someone carries a deep message, a significant theological meaning. (…) I think that giving up one’s life to help others is immensely difficult. Today we cannot understand how it was possible to beat and torture three men just because they helped someone. When we talk about such help, we always think about the price that those people had to pay. Some Poles paid the ultimate price. Let’s make sure that their sacrifice and the suffering of their families are not in vain. Let’s learn from these tragic events so that we can defend historical truth and never allow such hatred to prevail" – said Prof. Magdalena Gawin, initiator of the “Called by Name” project, Deputy Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport.

The event was attended by the residents of Rzążew, including students at the local elementary school. The co-organizers of the event were the Pilecki Institute with director Dr. Wojciech Kozłowski and deputy director Anna Gutkowska, as well as the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport, the head of the Zbuczyn commune Tomasz Hapunowicz, and the head of the Siedlce District Karol Tchórzewski.