b. Yanova Dolina, Ukraine, 1942
When the Germans invaded the Ukraine in 1941, my father fled to Russia, but my mother, who was pregnant, stayed behind. She gave birth to me and went into hiding. When I was six months old my mother gave me to a Polish family, Pulit, for hiding, since she could not care for me under the conditions she lived in. It is with this family, a mother, a father, two sisters, and grandparents that I spent the war years and after. With them I moved from Poland to Holland and then Germany, where they were slave laborers. After the war the family returned to Poland, to a village near Opole in Silesia.
In May 1947, my mother's sister Leah, accompanied by a Polish Jewish officer, came to take me away from this family. It was only after a long search and many inquiries that my aunt had been able to trace me.
Although she presented herself as my mother, the family refused to give me back. But after being promised a monetary compensation, the family agreed to give me to my aunt.
My aunt and I went out to a field and, sitting on the green grass, she held me and hugged me and recited a children's poem to me. At night I was allowed to sleep with her.
But a few nights after my aunt arrived, my surrogate mother, Marianna Pulit, came in and snatched me out of my aunt's bed. This was the first time that I experienced a conflict between people. I felt anguished, that I was the cause for a disagreement and a fight. The family was not ready to give me away after all.
Finally, my aunt was able to persuade the Pulits to give me up, arguing that I was a Jewish child—and why should they have an interest in keeping me, after all? At the end of a week, my aunt and I left. I was told that I was going to visit relatives in town. I was given some clothes and big red round beads that I kept for many years.
My aunt and I lived in the city of Lodz, in a commune, preparing to go to Palestine. One night in bed, my aunt told me a story about a woman hiding in a cave who was killed. Later she told me that this woman was my mother. She had been spotted outside of her hiding place just a few months before the war ended and was shot to death. I felt a great letdown, a great sadness.
At the end of the summer my aunt and I crossed the border from Poland to Czechoslovakia and from there to Austria, to a Displaced Persons camp. There