Heroes of the Holocaust: Leopold Socha and Stefan Wroblewski
Leopold Socha and Stefan Wroblewski were not wealthy men, they both worked for the city of Lvov, Poland sanitation department maintaining the sewer system. Socha began aiding Jews from the ghetto almost immediately after the Germans occupied the city and established the ghetto.
It wasn’t long before Socha sought the help of Wroblewski in his effort to offer assistance to the persecuted Jews of Lvov. During the episode in which the ghetto was liquidated as part of Aktion Reinhard , as Socha and Wroblewski worked in the in sewage canals under the city, they came across a group of several Jews hiding in the sewer.
Socha managed to convince the horrified Jews that he meant them no harm and kept them from fleeing the sewage canals to stay hidden from the SS and Gestapo agents that were blanketing the city. The Jews would wait out the war living in the sewage canals under the city, aided by Socha and his wife as well as Wroblewski and his wife.
Initially the Jew would pay Socha and Wroblewski for the assistance that they provided but eventually the money ran out and living in the city’s sewer the Jews had no source of income. It made no difference to the Sochas and Wroblewskis, they provided for the needs of the Jews from their own pockets.
The families provided for all the needs of the Jews in the sewer; they brought them food, did specific shopping for them, provided for their religious traditions by offering prayer books, and in a particularly difficult task they buried the Jews that died while living under these awful conditions.
When the German army surrendered at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union, in July of 1944, the city of Lvov was also freed from German occupation. Following this relenting the Jewish survivors of the Lvov sewers celebrated their survival with the families that saved their lives.
After surviving for thirteen months in the sewers under Lvov, ten of the original twenty-one Jews who went into that sewer fearing for their lives survived to the end of the war. For providing material support to the Jews hiding in the sewers under Lvov, Leopold and Magdalena Socha and Stefan Wroblewski and his wife were recognized by Yad Vashem as being Righteous Among the Nations , an honor bestowed upon non-Jews who offered aid to Jews during the Holocaust.
Copyright© 2013 R. Bertz
Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Retrieved from: http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/stories/socha.asp.