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Date of birth – 7 December, 1909 

Place of birth – Pryashiv, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Slovakia)

Place of interview – Warren, Michigan

Date of interview - 17 May, 1989

Audio interview

Language -  Ukrainian


SS - A doctor came to me and said "baptize me." He had a wife. He was a doctor already, and could have been over 50 years of age. His wife was also about 50 and they had no children. He came to me one evening white as paper. "Baptize me. I want to live." Doctor Gottlieb was his name. Write it down. Doctor Gottlieb.

Interviewer - Did this save them? Did the Germans accept that they were baptized and did not take them?

SS - This was baptism before 1912. If you were baptised before that year, then it saved you.

Interviewer - So you had to write that date then?

SS - And that is what I did.

Interviewer - Wrote down an earlier date.

SS - I told that Jew, I don't remember his first name, but Gottlieb. He was a very well-known, very outspoken doctor here in Mezhylabirtsi, Carpathia. It was about 6 kilometres away from the border of Poland, from Lemkivschyna. So I told the doctor, "I do not believe that you will become a true, honest Christian. I do not want to ruin the sacrament because it is law. And the law prohibits me from doing this. My conscience will not let me. I will issue you a baptismal certificate." And that is what saved him.

Interviewer - The baptismal certificate.

SS - The baptismal certificate.

Interviewer - Without a baptism.

SS - Without a baptism. Father Huchko also issued baptismal certificates without baptism because we could not falsify the sacrament. Our conscience would not let us.

Interview - What advice did Bishop Goydech offer you?

SS - He told me to save them any way I can. Jews would come to our parish in the East, in Slovakia, and a lot of priests would even baptise them. But as I said, my conscience would not let me. They would offer money. No. I would not take a cent. Even though they offered thousands of Slovak crowns. No. So I did not baptize him. But we wrote him in the book. I went through all of the baptismal certificates from 100, 150 years ago, where you could no longer see the names. In any case, I asked him to write his [Dr. Gottlieb's] and his wife's name into the book. From 1906, 1907, or 1908. In those years. He was older than me. About half a year or maybe a year later, a police man came to me and said "there was a Dr. Gottlieb baptized here this-and-this year, and  I would like to review the book". He was this new police man...

Interviewer - Who was he, a German?

SS - Slovak. There we had Slovak police. We were not occupied by the Germans, but the Slovak police had to do such work for the Germans. The police man comes to me. I had to show him the book so I did and I opened to the page where Dr. Gottlieb's name was written. He was reading it, he put his hand on the text, felt around, you know, and saw that something was erased from there and new name written on top. He put his hand there, and I put my hand on his. I told him "Listen, I am not asking what faith you belong to. If you are a Catholic, or Protestant, or Lutheran. But I am telling you, if your brother came to you and asked you to save his life because he wants to live..." And the police man said "Father, do not be afraid. I did not see anything. I only saw that the name was recorded, but nothing else." So the Jew and his wife were saved.

Interviewer - Were there a lot of cases like that? How many baptismal certificates did you issue?

SS - I issued around 20, 25, maybe 30. Father Huchko issued maybe a little less. Secondly, there was this one Jewish lady that came to me. A strong lady, with her daughter. Her daughter had polio on her left leg because she was low on iron. She came to me maybe 10 times

Interviewer - What were their names? Do you remember?

SS - Schonfeld. The daughter's name was Miriam. The other daughter - Teresa. Miriam with her poor leg would come with her mother. The mother would always bring her material for dresses, for men's clothing, for women's clothing. That was the business her husband had, and her brothers. She said "please, hide [my material]. If they take us, hide it. Maybe we'll return, and you can return it to us. If we don't - give it to the poor. " And this Jewish lady had 2 brothers who had a shop close to our church. In their house they still had an old grandfather, who sat like a righteous saint, like a prophet of God behind the table as we talked. Later, I told Miriam's uncles once when I was at their shop that at the train station, there were 10, 15, maybe 20 boys, Slovaks, not Catholics, students, working over the summer. To make some money. Mostly students. They were loading wood for burning onto the train for factories in Switzerland. And not even knowing what was to come, I told the two brothers this. About a month or two later, I get a postcard from Switzerland, "heartfelt greetings, from my vacation". Signed, Miriam. Not Schonfeld, just Miriam. I was so happy, I went to that shop, and those uncles were laughing because they received the same postcard from Switzerland.  So what happened was the two uncles contacted that group of Slovak students and they hid the girl in a big wooden box. They gave her enough food and water for 3 weeks. They also arranged for her to be able to take care of her 'humanly needs' because she wasn't an angel right? Someone in New York asked me once "wait, you said she spent 3 weeks there? How did she go to the toilet." I told him that it was none of my business. Her uncles took care of that. She made it to Switzerland and then another 2 or 3 weeks later I get a postcard from Tel Aviv. She had made it to Israel.

Interviwer - And after the war when you were already in America, did anybody try contacting you or looking for you to express their gratitude?

SS - No. I actually had a very unpleasant experience with Dr. Gottlieb. Our priest, father Huchko, that lived in Mezhylabrtsi, was arrested in Prague for helping UPA, the 'upisty' passed through him. And his helper, the janitor of the church, drove them to the border. The janitor was captured with the 'upisty' and father Huchko was arrested. I asked Dr. Gottlieb to write to write him a letter. I asked for Dr. Gottlieb to write a personal letter confirming that he knew that father Huchko helped and saved Jews in Mezhylabirtsi. He responded saying how dangerous it would be for him intercede, for him to confirm that this person had helped Jews. He said it would be harmful to him. I told him that we've been helping his people and his response was "this is your duty, but I cannot do the same."

I received this kind of ingratitude. 


Juríčková, Valéria, Biographical article on father Sebastian Sabol in Slovak

excerpt from the Interview with FATHER SEBASTIAN SABOL

The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org