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BROTHER LAWRENTIJ KUZYK



Date of birth – 10 November, 1912

Place of birth – Turya, Starosambir, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Place of interview – Waterloo, ON

Date of interview - 23 June, 1981

Audio interview

Language – Ukrainian 


(Excerpt):


LK - There were women and there were children. You know, they sent the children once to Krakivskyj market to buy cabbage. Тhe ghetto was confiscated by this time. Тhe Germans caught two of the girls; took them to Belz. As they were riding on the train, and because they were so small, the older one, and there was a lot of snow then, somewhere near Rawa-Ruska tossed the younger one through the window; threw her onto the snow. The gestapo was riding alongside in their vehicles so they shot at them. In a kilometer maybe, the older Jews threw the older girl out the window, and they [the gestapo] shot at her again. One of our brothers was riding his sleigh at night, he looked - something was crying in the snow, on the side of the road. He came closer, and it's alive - a girl. He took her, drove another kilometer - and there's another one. So he saved the girls.


Interviewer - How do you know this?


LK - We will get to that. He brought them to Lviv. He didn't tell anyone where they were. There was this brother Semkovych who worked at the hospital. He came twice a day to help treat the girls. We took them to the orphanage. There were many other girls there.


Interviewer - Did you know that they were Jews?


LK - Yes, because of their families, mothers, fathers. [They were taken to] the orphanage in Buchei run by nuns. You know, later they [the girls] danced and sang very nicely. Even the Germans would watch.


Interviewer - And they didn't know? Do you know what their names were? You don't remember. What happened with them after? You also don't know...


LK - We will get to that. I'm not used to speaking, I have never said this before.


Interviewer - You speak very nicely, brother! One could write a book from your stories!


LK - So these Jews, I left them, because later they sent me to keep watch in Pidlyutyj. There was also brother Lazar. He taught the girls religion, and our priests baptized them. The families did not object. It was good with the girls; there was no trouble. But there were boys. We will get to the boys. Because we had two orphanages: one in Lviv and one in Univ. We could not hide the Jewish boys. We had to call them "our priests".


Interviewer - So you had a few boys then? Jews?


LK - Yes, we did. In Galicia, every parish used to have a pastor. And later under the Metropolitan [Sheptytskyj], there were a few pastors who had up to three parishes. The monks, under the Bolsheviks did this. So we had our priests-studies in every parish. We divided up the Jews. They would graze the cows. We hid them as best we could. As soon as somebody suspected something, we would take them somewhere else. We even moved one, Levin, all the way to Pidlyutyj.


Interviewer - Levin was his name?


LK - Levin. He is in New York now.


Interviewer - Yes? Do you still keep contact with him?


LK - Yes, he was the rabbi's son. His father was the head rabbi in Lviv. I still know one more, named Midas, who was a specialist in a hospital in America, I forget the name.


Now back to Levin. We hid both of his sons; he only had two sons. The younger one we named Bohdan, and the older one - Roman - Mytka he signed himself. We baptized them. Our priests-studies had a mission in Pidlyasha - 6. By that time, the Bolsheviks had kicked us out, but we had birth certificates and we had stamps. So that we wouldn't have to look far into Galicia, we wrote the birth certificates and stamped our 6.


Interviewer - So you baptized them, yes?


LK - Yes.


Interviewer - And gave them birth certificates?


LK - Yes, gave them birth certificates. One was 8 years old I think, and the other one already 16.


Interviewer - Where was this? In Lviv?


LK - In Lviv. Later, because we could not keep them in the orphanage, we sent one to father Pliatana, to his parish, and the other to Pidlyutyj, on Luzhky. We were very close to the Transcarpathian-Hungarian border. There, on that border, were Germans. They came to us for milk. We were scared to keep him longer because he spoke German with a  Jewish accent. So the Abbot said to move him to Lviv. We made him a certificate from our Ukrainian Committee with a photograph, and brother Josyp sent him to Lviv. Rabbi Kahane worked in Lviv, in the library.


Interviewer - How did he work? As a Jew?


LK - A Jew. In the Library. But he worked so that no one would know.


Interviewer - Didn't they know that he was a Jew?


LK - He lived upstairs. We built him this house, made an oven and attached a pipe to the chimney. They brought him food, and he lived there. One time, you know...


Interviewer - So you say that he worked in the library?


LK - He worked there, where there were no people. Somewhere in the archives.


Interviewer - Who was in charge of the library? Was it your library?


LK - It is a well known library. They were the Metropolitan's best books. He worked there.


Interviewer - And what was his name?


LK - Kahane. He is still living in Palestine.


Interviewer - Did he write anything about this, do you know? About how Ukrainians saved him? Kahane.


LK - Kahane. He remains our friend until today. Later, we were scared to keep the boy we had brought, this Roman to Lviv, he was already taking care of Kahane. He brought him food, and this was until the Bolsheviks came for the second time. You know, when the Bolsheviks came for the second time, a Jewish committee was formed. You know, the Metropolitan saved over 200 children. History doesn't know this. 


Interviewer - Jewish children?


LK - Yes.


Interviewer - Where were they?


LK - In Lviv and the surrounding area. They survived the horror.


Interviewer - Were they being hidden by different people?


LK - Yes. It wasn't only the monks involved. There were also a lot of regular people because we could not handle it all on our own. Those families, there were 3 families living with the shoemaker. They lived there the entire time.


Interviewer - The families that you left?


LK - Yes, the ones I left. They survived the horror.


Interviewer - Where are they now, do you know?


LK - When the Bolsheviks came, then came the committee. Metropolitan called the committee to him and said this...I am repeating the words I heard from Levin.


Interviewer - The one who is in New York now?


LK - Whenever I travel to America, I always visit him. He even visited us a few times.


Interviewer - Here?


LK - Here. What was I going to say?


Interviewer - You were going to say the words he said that the Metropolitan said.


LK - He said that the committee came and the Metropolitan told them to give him their word, that everyone - this list of children, these people - because they are all Christians now, will not be persecuted. Just to let them be as they wish. This is what Levin told me, that the Metropolitan said. He told the monks to sew adequate clothing, shoes, for those that do not have it. The studites were of all kinds. Everyone had to have some kind of skill. Tailors, shoemakers, carpenters - we had them all. Then he gave them over to the Jewish committee. 


Interviewer - The children?


LK - The children.




CROSS REFERENCES:


• Винницька, Іроїда. «Жива історія українських політичних емігрантів в Канаді»: Інтерв'ю з братом Лаврентієм Кузиком. Україна Модерна. Число 4-5/2000.

excerpt from the Interview with BROTHER LAWRENTIJ KUZYK
UKRAINIANS ASSISTING JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST

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