Holland’s Hidden Hero of the Sewers

Hidden, which is being shot in Poland and Germany, will shine a light on a little known and unlikely hero of the Second World War. Leopold Socha was a petty thief and black marketeer at large in pre-war Lwów (Lviv). His occasional employment as a workman got him well acquainted with the city’s sewers, which he also used as a place to stash stolen goods. Yet with the coming of war, the network of tunnels took on a new role as a hiding place for the hunted.

In May 1943, a chance encounter with a group of Jews that had fled the Nazi Ghetto proved a turning point in Socha’s life. At first, his motives for helping seemed financial. But as time passed, he grew increasingly protective, seeing that besides food, the stragglers were supplied with a prayer book and clean clothes. A group of 10 emerged from the darkness after a year of horrors on 28 July, 1944.

“Everything around me was red,” recalled Krystyna Chiger, one of the survivors, on the shock of daylight. “Red orange. The faces were red, the buildings were red, the sky was red.”

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