In the summer of 1992, in Poland, the Zilberman family went to the country house of the grandparents to make a peaceful holiday, when an event will change everything...

Hello, I am Zygmunt Jakubowicz, born on 17 April 1945 in Wiewiórów, Poland. And I am 76 years old as I speak. I am married to Ewa Dumala Jakubowicz born on 27 August 1948 in Brudzice, not far from the village where I was born. We got married quite young, in 1965 in the church in Krepa, which is located 4km south of Lgota Wielka. We have been united for 65 years before God and man. Ewa has always been my support, a precious help in my everyday life. I have no regrets about marrying her, she is a woman who has put up with my weaknesses, my doubts, raised and educated our children because I worked so hard. We had three children, Marek born in 1968, Piotr born in 1972 and Katarzyna born in 1974 in Lgota Wielka.


I am a pensioner of the Policja (Polish National Police) from the city of Lgota Wielka. I joined the police force at the age of 19 in 1964. I saw many cases pass before my eyes... Some of them were hard, but there was one case that made the biggest impression on me. I will tell you about this investigation...

The Zilberman family, consisting of the father, Mr. Wladyslaw Zilberman, born on 9 December 1941 in Lgota Wielka. He was a Polish Jew who suffered the war as a small child. His older sister and her husband were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, which are two localities about 50 kilometres from Krakow, "Oswiecim and Brzezinka" in Polish, they died there. He was a cheerful man, loving his family and scrupulously observing the Jewish laws, especially with regard to the Sabbath. He later became an important banker.


The mother, Mrs Sarah Schulz Zilberman, was born on 14 April 1946 in Krowodrza, near Krakow. She came from a bourgeois Jewish family and lost more than two thirds of her family during the Shoah. She never knew her grandparents and some of her uncles, aunts, cousins. However, despite some of the shortcomings of her childhood, Sarah always put on a brave face in the face of adversity.


And their three children, the eldest Boleslaw Zilberman born on 31 October 1981 in Krakow. He is a cute little boy, obedient, kind and sometimes absent-minded.

Then there is the eldest, Radek Zilberman, born on 10 March 1983 in Krakow. He is a mischievous little boy, but he is not mean. He likes to imitate his big brother at times.


And the last one, the youngest, Zuzanna Zilberman, born on 30 December 1985 in Krakow. She is a pretty little girl with long curly blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. Her father's favourite child, he spoils her a lot.


On Wednesday, 15 July 1992, the family travels at about 9.30 a.m. to the town of Lgota Wielka, about two hours and forty minutes from Kraków, to the home of Wladyslaw's parents, Dawid and Felicja Zilberman, to spend a two-week holiday there. The grandparents live in a large, secluded country house that provides a great deal of ambient calm for anyone staying there. The whole family went to the local swimming pool to relax a bit. The children are happy to be there, with their parents and grandparents, and they are having a great time. The Zilbermans then go home to eat at the family home. For starters, the family starts with Pierogis polski with cream cheese, potato and fried onions, which is Polish "ravioli". For the main course, Felicja, with the help of her daughter-in-law Sarah, prepared Ryba po grecku (Greek-style fish) with Kluski, which are small steamed dumplings made of flour and mashed potatoes with a little mushroom sauce. After tasting all this, the family was able to enjoy a Kranz, which is the Jewish variant of the traditional Polish Babka, where the candied fruits are replaced by chocolate. Everyone has eaten well, Dawid, takes a nap in the garden while Wladyslaw, Sarah and Felicja discuss the future of their country, after this post-Soviet period while the children play all over the garden. At about 3.45 p.m. Boleslaw, Radek and Zuzanna ask their Babcia (granny), if they can go and play in the big field next to the house. Felicja allows them to go there, tells them not to go too far because the field is big and the grass is high in this month of July. They run in!


The children are playing and without realizing it they go into the field. Radek wants to go home and lets his big brother know, Boleslaw decides that the siblings should go home. It is about 5.20 pm. Radek walks ahead, while Zuzanna gives Boleslaw her hand. After a few minutes of walking across the field, Boleslaw realises that his shoelace is untied, Zuzanna stays by his side, but Radek having gone ahead did not see that his brother and sister had stopped. The elder and the younger one don't see their brother at all, they think that Radek must have arrived already, they don't worry more than that. When they reached the roadside, they saw a black van driving away quickly.


Zuzanna and Boleslaw arrive at their grandparents' house. Wladyslaw asks the children where Radek is since all three of them left, the children thought their brother had arrived before them. The father of the family understands that something has happened, he calls the police, describes the situation. Sarah Zilberman is crying while her husband talks to officer Ludwik Lewandowski, after this call the officer tells me about the situation, it is getting dark, we can only start the search tomorrow morning.


The next day, at daybreak, about 50 officers are sent to the field to find the 9 year old Radek who disappeared yesterday. My colleagues and some volunteers are searching the area around the house of grandparents Zilberman and the nearby field... Journalists from TVP1, interviewed Wladyslaw and Sarah Zilberman, who are crying in front of their cameras, explaining what happened to them. The disappearance becomes a national affair thanks to this report. I was about to leave to help in the field when officer Pawel Smolarek tells me that a woman and her son have something to tell me, a certain Mrs Piskorski... We start talking and she introduces me to her son, Jacek, who was 8 years old. The child tells me that four days before Radek's disappearance, he was followed by a man and that he was able to escape from him by entering the hall of the building but that unfortunately he did not see the face of the individual. I thank Mrs. Piskorski and little Jacek for their help, as soon as they left the room I contacted my superiors.


We are searching the homes of thirty-three sex offenders around the area of Lgota Wielka, about one hundred kilometres away. My colleagues and I are looking for any clues that might help us to make progress in the investigation. More than a thousand Policja officers have been dispatched for this operation. Colleagues from the town of Gdansk, which is about four hundred kilometres north of Lgota Wielka and in the very north of Poland, called us, as the child was reportedly seen with a man in their town by witnesses who immediately called their department. A sketch was made of the individual accompanying the child. The man was found by the Gda?sk police and was taken into custody. We hope that this is Radek, we wait a few hours but our colleagues call us back after the individual is in custody and he is innocent and the child is not the one we are looking for despite a slight resemblance...


I go to the Zilberman grandparents' house, the child's parents stay there as originally planned. In view of Sarah Zilberman's condition, I prefer to talk to Wladyslaw Zilberman alone about the possibility of not finding their son, Radek, alive, unfortunately... The father of the family, admits to me that he has thought about it but has not talked about it with his wife who is currently too weakened by the situation. We continue to investigate, to search and to question in order to find little Radek.


It was July 30, 1992, a fortnight after the disappearance of the younger Zilberman. A couple walking near the field near the Zilberman grandparents' country house, see what they think is an animal in the distance. The couple approached and found a small, naked body of a decomposing child... We were called by the couple, who were shocked by the sight of the lifeless body... After some DNA analysis, we discovered that it was the body of little Radek Zilberman, aged 9... A shoe was found about three metres from the body. I went in person to the family of this little boy, and had to tell them that their son had been found dead not far from the house. The eldest child, Boleslaw Zilberman, remembers a detail, and explains to me that when he and Zuzanna arrived at the roadside, they saw a black van speeding away!

Thanks to Boleslaw's testimony, we set up roadblocks to find the criminals. Almost five days later we still have no leads... I was beginning to despair, I was desperate to solve the case so that the Zilbermans could mourn their son. On 4 August, on the outskirts of the city to the east, between Lgota Wielka and Wozniki, a man tried to break through a roadblock with a motorbike, a chase was started between the man and the police. After ten kilometres, the man lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. My colleagues arrested the offender, who luckily only had superficial injuries. The man's name is Bogdan Nowak and he was taken into custody for theft and hit-and-run, the motorbike did not belong to him. After some research about this person, we discover that he has a black van and that he is a registered sex offender. A blond hair was found in the van, while Bogdan has brown hair...

Submitted: May 23, 2021

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