Surname: Unknown (During the war MARKOVICH)
Name: Unknown (During the war Maria)
Birth Date: Probably end of 1942, beginning of 1943
Birth Place: Poland, possibly in south eastern Poland
Father’s Name: Unknown ( Name of father who saved her : Vasili MARKOVICH)
Mother’s Name: Unknown (Name of mother who saved her: Antonina MARKOVICH)
THE FIRST PART OF MARIA’S STORY:
This is our first clue, a photo taken in Skarzysko:
This photo shows Antonina , baby Maria and Vasili MARKOVICH (MARKOWICZ?).
It was sent from Skarsyzko on August 1943 as the text on the back of the photo shows:
A rough translation:
“Marysia came out nicely and both of you, too.”
A Polish speaking person noted:
“Marysia ladnie wysla no i wy tysz” should in proper Polish be written
“Marysia ladnie wyszla no i wy tez”.
Antonina was Polish. Could it have been written by a friend or relative of hers, a person with very basic education?
Vasili was Ukrainian. Could it have been written by a friend or a relative of his, who did not have Polish as their native language?
Circumstances of rescue
Maria was told she was saved at the age of around eight months by the Markovich couple. The circumstances of Maria being saved are not quite clear. Was she thrown off a train, wrapped in a blanket? Was she found by the road/street, wrapped in a blanket? Was she handed to a couple at the time the Jews were rounded up or forced into a ghetto or into a camp?
Maria was told she was born in Krosno and that she lived there with Antonina and Vasili till the family moved to the Ukraine in 1947. There were around 1725 Jews in Krosno before the Holocaust out of a population of around 6200 inhabitants. From JewishGen we learn that in August 1942 (the 6th or 10th), all the Jews were gathered in the town center. The old and infirm were taken to a nearby forest and shot. Another 1,000 Jews were sent to the Belzec death camp. The few hundred left were gathered in a closed ghetto in the town. On December 4, 1942, most of them were sent to Rzeszow.
Not Krosno, but Skarzysko?
Based on this, could it be that Maria was not born in Krosno, but brought to Krosno from Skarzysko by Vasili and Antonina MARKOWICZ/MARKOVICH in the summer of 1943, perhaps in August 1943?
Skarzysko-Kamienna was an infamous work camp during the war. Could Maria be the child of one of those estimated 25000 – 30000 forced laborers, both women and men, brought to that camp to produce ammunition? An estimated 18000 – 23000 prisoners died in the camp under the most cruel conditions.
According to Yad Vashem’s description, the camp was established in August 1942 and was liquidated on Aug 1st 1944.
From the Wikipedia : “Between August 1942 and summer of 1943 Jews from all over the Radom district were brought to three camps surrounding the munitions factory and forced to work there. According to German records, of the total 17,210 brought in with 58 transports, 6,408 managed to survive long enough to be evacuated to other camps when the Germans closed the factory in 1944.”
Transports from the Radom district to Skarzysko-Kamienna in the summer of 1943
If we consider the possibility that Maria was the child of one of the Jews brought by train from the Radom area to Skarzysko-Kamienna and picked up and saved by Antonina and Vasili MARKOVICH from those transports, it is likely that at least Antonina and Maria would have to get away from Skarzysko as soon as possible. To narrow down the places Maria could have come from, the transports in July and August 1943 are the most relevant.
On what date did each transport start?
From what place did each transport start?
Did the transport pick up more prisoners on the way?
Are the number of women on each transport noted?
Did the transport lists include names of individual prisoners?
Do such lists exist – in Poland, in Germany or elsewhere?
To Krosno in August 1943?
Vasili MARKOVICH, Ukrainian, and Antonina MARKOVICH, Polish, had no children of their own. In 1943 Antonina MARKOVICH was 45 years old. Our theory is that at least Antonina and Maria left Skarzysko around August 1943 shortly after the rescue, and fled to Krosno. Perhaps Vasili had to stay back in Skarzysko for work?
We believe Antonina had no previous connections to Krosno. If she was from Krosno, it would been difficult to pretend that an eight month old baby was her biological child, as her friends and family did not even know about her being pregnant. Our theory is that they, as refugees, settled in Krosno, pretending Maria was the biological daughter born somewhere else. It will be a great help if records in Krosno could show exactly when Antonina, Maria and Vasili MARKOVICH settled in Krosno., What address or addresses did they live at in Krosno?
Do people who live in Krosno today have any knowledge about this couple and about Maria?
The Greek Orthodox/Russian Orthodox Church in Krosno
The number of congregants must have been fairly small after the war. How many there are today, we do not know. Could it be that Vasili Markovich was a member of this church after the war? Where would there be records for this today? In Krosno? In the Ukraine?
From Krosno to Borislav
When the war ended, the borders between Poland and the Ukraine changed a little bit a few times. The population was a mix of Ukrainians and Poles, and each group wanted their area to belong to their country. In this process, the population moved around. For the Markovich couple – he as an Ukrainian and she as a Polish woman – this resulted in them moving from Krosno to Borislav in the Ukraine in 1947. As these are records from after the war, hopefully lists of families leaving Poland for the Ukraine, exist somewhere in Poland or in the Ukraine, and could give additional information about the family.
THE SECOND PART OF MARIA’S STORY
In 1947 Vasili, Antonina and Maria, four or five years old at the time, moved from Krosno to Borislav (now the Ukraine) where Vasili’s brother Jakob MARKOVICH lived.
Maria lived with her new parents in Borislav for the next six to seven years, and Maria attended most of elementary school in Borislav.
She remembers that children would bully her, telling her she was Jewish, but the adoptive parents did all in their power to protect her.
In 1953 the adoptive mother tragically died.
Vasili remarried a woman named Stef and the family moved to Drohobych, also in the Ukraine. Vasili’s new wife did not want Maria and made life miserable for her.
In Drohobych, neighbors, a Jewish couple named Mossya/Moshe and Raya Gershenson, saw the abuse, and came up with a solution – they offered Maria a position as a babysitter for the sick son of Mossya’s sister Ilda BARAT and her husband Mordo BRONSTEIN.
The Barat/Bronstein family lived in Omsk. This way Maria started a new life without her abusive stepmother, but also without her stepfather.
Today Maria lives in Omsk in Russia, far away from both Krosno in Poland and from Borislav and Drohobych where she grew up in the Ukraine.
In 2010 Maria went to Israel to visit the Jewish family she had lived with as a teenager. She also visited Yad Vashem to search for information. Following her testimony, Vasili and Antonia MARKOVICH posthumously became Righteous Gentiles in 2014.
Maria’s biggest wish has been, and is, to discover her biological roots. She has made a DNA test. Families connected to her DNA come from Krakow, Bochnia and Biecz. Perhaps other places too?
What was her original name?
Who were her parents?
Did she have any siblings?
Does she have any living relatives somewhere in the world?
Can you help?