I still think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War Two (not to mention those who gave up their lives in doing so, and were thus murdered in action)—Jewish soldiers. As I’ve said before, for example, my great-great-grandmother Julia Fosko Rusnak (of the Foczko Levite family, and z”l) sent two of her sons overseas, and one all the way to a military base in California (and who knew if and when he would be deployed. He wasn’t; still, he could have been at any given moment.). How much more so her sons, who were willing to go over there (especially after what their eldest sibling and their dad—who would later invent a brother of his and lie to the by-then veteran son who filled out his death certificate—did).

The three of them—Andrew (1917-2013, z”l), Carl (later the head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; 1922-1999, z”l), and Joseph (1927-2007, z”l)—knew that they might not come back, and they (because of their sibling) lost cousins (e.g., Vilmosz Rusznak, z”l v’HY”D) in Auschwitz. They knew the risk of sharing a fate similar or equal to Vilmosz’s fate.

By the way, as I’ve stated elsewhere, I know that those letters from their supposed uncle really were from Vilmosz—when I asked further questions about them, I got evasive answers. Besides, I knew that Vilmosz was a relative when I saw his picture on Yad Vashem. As Abraham Lincoln admonished, “You may fool all of the people some of the time, and you may fool some of the people all of the time; but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” In a similar vein, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s George Wilson warned his cheating wife, “You may be able to fool me, but you cannot fool God.”

How much, then, were Vilmosz’s cousins and Julia’s sons really were risking!

Meanwhile, all three brothers of my dad’s paternal granddad went overseas. The youngest brother in particular made the ultimate sacrifice—a soldier in the 111th Infantry Division Medical Corps, Pfc. Bernard “Bernie” Stanley Czarnecki (z”l v’HY”D) received shrapnel in his head, ended up as a stock clerk in the Veteran’s Hospital in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, since the shrapnel-removal surgery failed, and died “instant[ly]” of a “coronary occlusion” and “schizophrenic reaction” (I knew that he died a horrible death, though I did not expect to read what I read on his death certificate.).

By the way, this is why I’ve called him one of the final victims of the Nazis [Y”Sh]: despite that he took almost 18 years to die, he died because he received shrapnel in his head in fighting a war to stop the Holocaust. He also was, I might add, a son of two pogrom survivors who became Crypto Jews in order to survive the pogroms (which, needless to say, got them to be cut off from their family in Lipsk nad Biebrzą, Bosse nad Sejny, etc.) and avoid Anti Semitism in Sugar Notch, Pennsylvania (These are facts that I cannot make up, by the way; and all after my now-late paternal granddad passed on a bubbe meise about how we are related to Stefan Czarniecki, Great-Granddad came over to the U.S. alone, etc.. Incidentally, he did change his story in one of our final conversations—”If we had any Jewish blood, I don’t know about it.” [Sure, Pop-Pop; and this is after you adamantly denied it once I found out that Great-Granddad came over with his parents, had eight siblings born here, etc..])

Let me give one more example: Franciszek Andrulewicz (of the Stakliškės Andrulevič[i]us Family—who were Great-Granddad’s maternal granddad’s family, I might add. On a sidenote, Great-Granddad’s maternal grandparents left Stakliškės for Bosse when Shmuil Morgovich, a Morgiewicz cousin, died of tuberculosis while Great-Great-Grandma was in her mother’s womb and was to be born two months later. Anyway, let me recount Franciszek Andrulewicz’s sacrifice.).

He died in the Russian part of the Shoah. Being a resistance fighter against the Soviets and their lieges, he (along with his sister and a cousin) was murdered in the Augustów Massacre. Being a Crypto Jew (and keep in mind that many of my family members in especially my dad’s family became Anusim during the various times of Anti Semitism in Europe, including Russian Poland and Hungarian Slovakia), he could’ve passed as a Pole or a Lithuanian. He ultimately didn’t, and he died as an Anusi who cared about his Jewish heritage and his Diasporan homeland of Poland (By the way, another Andrulewicz cousin wrote a hilarious account of his own hiding during the Shoah. One can definitely tell that he liked neither the Germans nor the “storm” that was “the Russians”, and he made a point in distinguishing himself from “the Poles”.).

In cousin, let me reiterate what I wrote in the beginning: “I still think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War Two (not to mention those who gave up their lives in doing so, and were thus murdered in action)—Jewish soldiers.” Andrew, Carl, and Joseph Rusnak; and especially Bernard Czarnecki and Franciszek Andrulewicz are examples of Jewish soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War Two.