Pole to be honoured for sheltering
Jews from Gestapo
The Gazette, August 5, 2003
CREDIT: COURTESY OF KREPEC FAMILY
A 1994 photo of Tadeusz Krepec in Montreal.
As a teenager in Nazi-occupied
Poland, Tadeusz Krepec would sneak out at night to steal
guns and grenades from a German Panzer division stationed
nearby, then bury them for use by the Polish Underground.
By day, he had another hazardous
mission - pitching in on the family farm, where his
parents sheltered dozens of Jews for the last years
of the Second World War.
Tomorrow, four years after his death, the former Concordia
University engineering professor will be honoured for
his role harbouring Jewish refugees on the run from
Like his parents and two sisters
before him, Krepec joins the ranks of Oskar Schindler,
Raoul Wallenberg and thousands of lesser known heroes
of the Holocaust, righteous gentiles who risked their
lives to do the right thing.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs'
and Heroes Remembrance Authority, based in Jerusalem,
will bestow Krepec with the title of Righteous Among
the Nations during a ceremony at the Israeli consulate
"My father never sought
recognition or compensation for what he did," said
Krepec's oldest son, André, who will attend with his
widowed mother, Halina, his three brothers and sister
and their families. "For him, it was just a question
of human values, a basic thing of our civilization -
what we have to do if our society is going to survive."
Indeed, Krepec insisted his family
had many silent partners, neighbours who turned a blind
eye to the succession of improbable farmhands, often
city people who spoke Polish with an accent.
The Krepecs had moved to the
rented farm near Warsaw after German soldiers forced
them from their home. "In 1942, some strangers
started coming to our house," Tadeusz Krepec said
when his 88-year-old mother and late father were honoured
in 1994. "We were told some of them were Jews and
we should not tell anybody about their presence."
Visitors - after the Warsaw uprising,
more than 20 refugees found sanctuary on the farm -
were put to work, tilling the fields and milking cows.
Children attended classes at an underground school that
moved from house to house. If word spread the Gestapo
was coming, the Jews would be taken to a nearby farmhouse
to wait until the coast was clear. If there was no advance
warning, they stayed in the fields and prayed no one
After the war, the Krepecs kept
in touch with some of the people who had stayed with
them during the war. There were shipments of oranges
from Israel, an offer of help to immigrate to the United
Tadeusz Krepec studied at the
Warsaw Polytechnic and came to Montreal in 1973, where
he worked as a project engineer at Bendix and Pratt
& Whitney. He joined the engineering faculty at
Concordia in 1973, where he helped students convert
cars and trucks to run on methanol, natural gas and
Krepec applied to Yad Vashem
on his parents' behalf in 1993. The file was approved
immediately: News of their good deeds had preceded them.
Yesterday, an official at the
Montreal consulate said Yad Vashem initially honoured
only the Krepec parents for the sake of expediency.
However, survivors had pleaded on behalf of all the
family members. Tadeusz Krepec was recognized on the
strength of testimony from witnesses and his sisters,
who cited the risky role he played in transporting Jews
between the farm and various hiding places.
Copyright : Montreal Gazette