Oral history
Zeugen der Geschichte

Stefan Galas

Name des Gesprächspartners:
Familienname des Gesprächspartners:
Mateusz Szczepaniak
Piotr Boruszkowski
12th Juni 2019
POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews
Polnische Gerechte

Interlocutor biogram

Stefan Galas was born on 18 March 1925 in a village named Konotopa. Initially, his father worked at a glassworks in Ożarów, later the family moved to a village named Strzeniówka to take over the farm belonging to his mother’s siblings. They lived at the farm together with the Czajka family (family of Stefan Galas’s maternal aunt). He had two brothers; apart from that, his parents also took care of one of his maternal uncle’s daughters after his wife died. Stefan Galas attended a public school and a secondary school, and then received underground education; in 1944, he passed his secondary school final examination.

During the war, the Galas family hid a Jewess named Rachela Birmbaum as well as her father (a tailor). They also helped a Jew named Jas. After the war, Jas and Rachela got married and settled down in Niemcza in Lower Silesia, and later emigrated to Israel; they had two sons.

In 1945, Stefan Galas started studying at the Faculty of Forestry of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, but he interrupted his studies, left for Masuria with his wife and started working for the local forest inspectorate. He was conscripted into the army and became a professional soldier for 13 years. He graduated from a university with a degree in pedagogical studies and became a teacher of mathematics, physics, chemistry and civil defence training for 40 years. He is currently in retirement and has lived in Muranów, Warsaw since 1960.

Recording circumstances description

The interview was recorded as part of the project “Polish Righteous – Recalling Forgotten History” implemented by the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Recording summary

  1. Information on the place of residence of the interviewee’s family; 00:00:20
  2. Public school and secondary school education; education during the occupation; 00:03:41
  3. Housing conditions; encounter with a Jewess in a forest and help granted to her and her father; 00:07:35
  4. A Jewish acquaintance from Nadarzyn; 00:10:03
  5. Living conditions during the occupation; a bandit attack on the farm; 00:12:23
  6. War preparations; living conditions on the farm; hideouts; 00:15:05
  7. Baking bread rolls; 00:21:16
  8. Life during the occupation; 00:22:55
  9. Disappearance of Mr Birmbaum; 00:24:30
  10. Rachela and Jas’s departure for Lower Silesia and their marriage; departure for Israel; visits to Poland and contact after the war; 00:25:05
  11. Absence of knowledge of the names of the Jews in hiding; meeting with Jas and his family in 2017; seeking recognition as one of the Righteous Among the Nations; 00:30:00
  12. Attitude of the Polish community in Nadarzyn towards Jews before the war; 00:36:52
  13. Neighbours; the Czajka family; 00:40:55
  14. Participation of the Czajka family in hiding Jews; everyday life during the occupation; 00:44:04
  15. Life of Jas during the war; 00:47:42
  16. Reaction of the people in the interviewee’s circle to the decision to hide Jews; 00:50:40
  17. Dangerous situations: assaults, presence of Germans in the vicinity, threat posed by the Russians; 00:52:58
  18. Capture and release of the interviewee from a roundup; 00:59:06
  19. Fear; attempts of Jas and his family to repay the help; 01:01:24
  20. Memories of the outbreak of the war; 01:04:08
  21. Memories of the end of the war; 01:07:57
  22. End of the war and parting with the hiding Jews; 01:14:03
  23. Relationship between Jas and Rachela; 01:17:05
  24. Settlement of the interviewee’s cousin, Witold, in Dzierżoniów; 01:18:45
  25. The interviewee’s life after the war: higher education, employment at a forest inspectorate, service in the army, employment at a school; 01:21:54
  26. Memories of the Muranów from the 1960s and from before the war; 01:29:51
  27. Relations with Jas and his wife after the war; 01:34:08
  28. Reflection on helping other people during the war; 01:40:07


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