July 16, 2024
Polish/Jewish Relations

The Paulinow massacre: A Jew working for the Gestapo contributed to the death of 11 Poles who had been helping other Jews

Paulinów is a small village located in the eastern part of the Masovia Province. During the war, when
these areas were under German occupation, the inhabitants of Paulinów tried to help Jews who
managed to escape from the nearby ghetto in Sterdynia. The inhabitants of that little village provided
food and hiding places for the fugitive Jews. Unfortunately, they paid with their lives for the goodness.
The report of a Gestapo agent (a Jew from Warsaw) prompted a German penal expedition, which shot
11 Poles who were helping the Jews.

In a small town of Sterdyn, In the ghetto founded by the Germans, there were about 1,000 Jews. In
September 1942, the Germans decided to liquidate the ghetto. More than 350 Jews were murdered
there. The rest were taken to the nearby Treblinka extermination camp. Some Jews, however, managed
to escape and find a hiding place in the neighboring town of Paulinow.

Many inhabitants of Paulinow provided food and shelter for the fugitive Jews. They spent the nights in
the farm buildings, where Franciszek Kierylak, the farm laborer, let them in. Among the Jews hiding in
the vicinity of Paulinów were two brothers Szlojme and Szymel Roskielenke. After some time, a man
who claimed to be a French Jew who had escaped from transport to the Treblinka extermination camp
joined them. In fact, he was a Gestapo agent, a Jew from Warsaw whose main task was to identify the
Poles from Paulinow who were hiding the fugitives from the Sterdynia ghetto.

There was no need to wait long for the effects of the Gestapo agent’s activity. During the night of
February 23, the Germans sent a punitive expedition to Paulinow. A large group of German soldiers
surrounded Paulinow and other neighboring villages. The soldiers had a list of people who were helping
the Jews. In addition, the Jew working for the Gestapo, aided the Germans in the identification of the

According to the findings of the Institute of National Remembrance, on February 24, 1943, 11 Poles,
including three women, were murdered in Paulinow for helping the Jews. The three fugitive Jews were
also murdered.

These events show German Nazis methods of operation. The Jew who worked for the Gestapo and gave
away the Poles aiding the Jews, probably heard promises of survival in exchange for cooperation. It is
doubtful that the Germans kept their promises. It needs to be made clear that the main responsibility
for the war crimes and the dehumanization falls on the Germans, not their victims, the Poles or the
Jews, who often acted under the threat of the loss of life.


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