Friday, October 17, 2008

John Baran's Story

From Roma's father's Wiedergutmachung (German government holocaust reparations) affidavit.

I, Jan Thomas Baran, previously Cytryn, resident of Montreal, declare under oath after being informed of the significance of declarations under oath:

When the war broke out I was living in Warsaw, Wspolna 54A with my first wife, Anna Cytryn née Katz, who was from Przemysl. My parents lived in Warsaw, Leszno St. no. 56, and remained there. This street was later added to the ghetto. My parents had to wear the star of David, and also do forced labor. Later my parents fled the ghetto and lived in hiding. I did not hear anything more from them, and so must assume that they died.

In September of 1939 I was conscripted into the army and in early October of 1939 I left the army and came to Przemysl. I lived there with my first wife (née Katz) and her parents in Kopernika St. 5 until the start of the German-Russian war in 1941. As required I wore a star of David then and had to work in a SS forced labor camp.

In early 1942 my first wife left the Przemysl Ghetto and went to Krakow where she hid and later died.

My current wife, Maria Rose Klueger-Karas, lived in the village of Mogila near Krakow and worked in a tobacco shop there. Like myself, she was pretending to be a Pole. We were in regular contact and met several times; this was possible because we were both pretending to be Poles, but despite that we didn’t want to live together in order not to attract attention even in this manner.

After the death of my first wife in March of 1943, Maria very much wanted me to come to Mogila, but many of my acquaintances were killed and I thought my chances were better in Tarnawa because it was near the Hungarian border; in September of 1943 after the Jewish forced labor camp was liquidated I left Przemysl and went to Tarnawa.

I then went to Sokoliki, where I lived hidden in a tiny room in the attic of one Jan Maslowski for one month (September 1943). During this time my friends visited me: Jan Krzysztof from Przemysl, my previous boss, who brought me money, and also Maria, my current wife.

In March of 1944, Maria had the opportunity to come to Lemberg by truck for a few days. I came from Tarnawa to Lemberg then as well. We were both in very low spirits and desperate, and we married on 14 March 1944 in order to belong to each other at least in this way. Right afterwards, Maria returned to Mogila and I to Tarnawa Wyzna.

Because the attic was very cold, I had to leave this place and I went to Tarnawa, where I hid in a pig stall owned by one Gorski, with counterfeit documents. I had to leave this place for a few days at great risk in order to get money from Lemberg, and returned immediately to Tarnawa. My files include a copy of the registration under my cover name – Baran – with the police in Tarnawa Wyzna.

The Ukrainian national organization UPA had a very strong presence in this area at the time. The leader of this organization was Stefan Bandera, and its goal was to fight against the Russians and the Poles. Many Polish families were attacked by these bandits and horribly murdered; those that survived felt compelled to seek assistance and protection from the German authorities. As the Russian front approached, the UPA became even more violent and the local German commander issued special permits for Polish families to travel from the Sokoliki Gorskie train station to Uzhorod with German supply troops.

The local German commander in Sokoliki Gorskie – Tarnawa was a quiet and educated man who loved chess. I think he came from Cologne, but I no longer know his name. I also think that he had the rank of Hauptmann. It would be very easy to determine this via German military reports. The garrison in Sokoliki Gorskie – Tarnawa had a special butcher’s department, and made sausages and other meat products for the Wehrmacht.

In September of 1944 my old friend Michael Kampel visited me, bringing news and money from my current wife who was hiding at the time in Mogila.

Because this town was endangered by bands of Ukrainian partisans, I decided to leave Tarnawa to reach Hungary by walking through the woods at night. I arrived in Uzhorod in mid-October. Uzhorod was completely cleansed of Jews [judenrein]; all the Jews had already been relocated [umgesiedelt] when I arrived. I lived in a building that had belonged to a Jewish family, near the bridge, in the same complex [Block] as the Gestapo office.

I was liberated in Uzhorod by the Russians on 27 October 1944.
Supporting documentation from an old friend:

Affidavit of Michael Kampel

I, Michael Kampel, New York, resident of New York, 1530 Plimpton Avenue, merchant, do declare the following under oath in connection with the restitution [application] of Mr. Jan Thomas Baran, earlier Cytryn:

I was born in Rostaka on 17 December 1909 and was living in Premzsyl at the start of the war. I applied for restitution and have already received full payment; I lived at Targoviza no. 10 in Premzsyl when the war started, and came to the Stalovawola camp in 1939 where I stayed until 1941. In 1941 I returned to Premzsyl and lived in the ghetto there until September of 1942, at which time I was caught again and sent to the Plaschow concentration camp near Krakow, where I stayed until 1944. In 1944 I was sent to another camp, namely Skajjisko Kamena, where I remained until August of 1944. In August of 1944 I escaped and then lived in different places in the woods near Krakow until liberation. When I was in the Premzsyl Ghetto in 1942, I saw the applicant, Mr. Jan Thomas Baran and his current wife, Marie Rose Klieger. At that time they were not yet married. We were old acquaintances and that is why I remember this meeting. Later – after I fled the camp – I met the applicant Baran in September in Tarnowa, where he was hiding in a pig stall owned by the farmer Gurski. I knew this because it was told to me by a third party, namely my brother-in-law, who also coincidentally was named Gurski but is not related to the farmer. I visited him in the night and subsequently also visited his current wife Baran, who was hiding in the cellar of the farmer Savitzki in Mogila near Krakow, and passed on greeting from her then friend and/or finance Mr. Baran and/or Cytryn. I then did not see the applicant or his wife from this time until liberation, because visits of that type, while very pleasant, were mortally dangerous, and therefore I could not repeat them after I had hidden in the forests.

Read to, approved, signed and sworn: 2 July 1959

Roma wants to thank her friend Marlene Schoofs in Berlin for the translations and for wringing these files out of the German bureaucracy.

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