Katarzyna Filipek, born 1897 in Tokarnia
In 1939, Katarzyna Filipek lost her husband and was left alone with seven children. In the spring of 1943, a Jewish family of 6, including 2 young children, appeared on the doorstep of her modest farm. The Steinbergs were fleeing the horrors of Holocaust. The town’s mayor directed them to the Filipek’s household in the hope that the widow’s house on the sidelines of the village would be a safe hideout. Little Rózia Steinberg begged for help. Katarzyna hesitated at first, as she was fully aware of the consequences one faced for helping out Jews, but allowed the Steinbergs into her barn where they would hide in the attic.
In January 1944, the Germans arrived at Katarzyna’s house. The Jewish family was outright shot at the scene. In February, the Germans came back and took Katarzyna and the wife of the mayor, Maria Barglik, into undisclosed location. Katarzyna’s eldest daughter, Maria Filipek, took care of her siblings and would not find out what had happened to their mother until 1985. After their arrest, the women were imprisoned at the Gestapo headquarters in Zakopane, and later shot and buried in the forest near Nowy Targ.
Dehumanization not only helps in the crime, but also facilitates the blurring of traces and remembrance of victims.
“It must become clear to everyone in Germany that Polishness is synonymous with subhumanity. [. . . ] This must be done until every German citizen has coded in his subconscious that every Pole, whether a worker or an intellectual, should be treated like vermin. ” Directive No 1306 of the Ministry of Propaganda of the Reich of 24. 10. 1933.