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Leopold Socha was a Polish, catholic man who was born in and lived in a poor neighborhood of Lvov in Poland with his wife Magdalena and his young daughter. Leopold Socha worked as a laborer for the municipal sanitation department in maintaining the sewage system. This man was also a convicted felon, he was even called a “professional thief” but claimed to be a changed man and to be a man of god.
Leopold Socha began aiding Jews from the ghetto almost immediately after Germans occupied the city and established the ghetto. He was horrified at the German hatred of Jews and immediately wanted to help out, later on co-opted Stefan Wroblewski into his plans. Socha came across a bunch of Jewish people hiding in the sewer under the city while he worked in the sewage canals. The horrified Jewish people were hesitant in whether to trust this man but eventually Leopold Socha managed to convince them that he meant no harm. He kept them from leaving the sewage canals to stay hidden from the SS and Gestapo agents that were taking over the city. The 21 Jewish people they discovered would live out the war in the sewage canals with not only the help of Socha and his wife but also Wroblewski and his wife. Living in the city’s sewage dumps did not provide any source of income but for a small period of time the Jewish people paid Socha and Wroblewski for the assistance they provided but eventually the money had run out, this made no difference to the men and their wives as they continued to provide for the Jews and aiding in all of their needs with the money from their own pockets .The families didn’t only provided for all the needs but also did specific shopping for them, provided for their religious traditions by offering prayer books, and in a particularly difficult task they buried the Jews that died while living under these awful conditions. Among the Jews a woman named Weinberg was in the last month of the pregnancy. When the conditions of the hideout caused the death of her baby and elderly grandmother, the rescuers went out of their way to bury them. Socha did all he could but the living conditions in the sewage canals took many lives of the 21 living in there. In July 1944 the German army surrendered at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union and the city of Lvov was also freed from German occupation. After this overwhelming relief the Jewish survivors of the Lvov sewers celebrated their survival with the families who saved their lives. After thirteen months of a horrible living life style only 10 people survived from the original 21 and even then that was a miracle with the conditions they had to endure. Some of the survivors included Halina Zipora Wind, the Chirowski family, and the Margulies family. For providing support to the Jews hiding in the sewers under Lvov and providing for all of their needs to stay alive, Leopold and Magdalena Socha and Stefan Wroblewski and his wife were recognized by
as being Righteous among nations
If the men and their families were caught helping the Jewish people survive during this period of time they would have faced harsh consequences. They would either be killed or sent to concentration camps to also face certain death.
The families who helped in saving the lives of many Jews were never caught. Just months after liberation Socha and his daughter were riding their bicycles when a truck came steering towards his daughter, here Leopold steered his bicycle in her direction to knock her out of the way, again saving another life. Unfortunately Socha lost his life but saving the life of his daughters. A movie about the story of these men, women and their rescuers called “In Darkness”
Leopold Socha and Mudek Marguilies, another of the ten survivors of the Lvov sewers.
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