Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Monczyk-Laczkowska Ferber - December 7, 1999


You were told.

My mother told me I had uncles in, in America. Uh, she didn't know about my aunt, but she knew that I had two broth...eh, two brothers of my father in America. But they never thought of us. They never kept, kept in contact. Oh, I have to tell you that I had a problem. Oh, I didn't tell you the very important story. In 1946, nineteen--we have to go back to 1946. We were very poor, I told you, we are so poor. And my mother needed to work and she had no place to leave me. And all of a sudden, like, a wonderful woman came to the door, Jewish woman. And she said to her, "You know what, we have a orphanage in Bytom, and I think you should give her to us and visit her on weekends and this way you will be able to work and it's only few minutes from Sosnowiec and it will be great," you know. And my mother took the opportunity. She, she gave, she didn't know it was an orphanage, she just thought it was a home, a Jewish home and I went there. I went there but I was so unhappy, because they were Orthodox Jews saving Jewish children. What they had in my mind, it was not what my mother had in mind.

Not a day care center.

And I will tell you later what happened. But I was giving then such a tsuris because at that point I was a devoted Catholic. I was eh, crossing myself every single day and kneeling and uh, reciting the, the prayers. And, and they were in awe, you know, the rabbis. I remember the principal. He had a big beard and payes. And I used to play with him all the time and, and he was. I had Jesus hanging over my bed because I didn't want anything else. And they, they [laughs] took all my meshigas just to keep me there. But my mother had a bad feeling about the fact that she gave me there. So she kept coming more often, more often, more often. And then she realized that she made a mistake. And she came one day with my brother--I never forget--she sat at the table and she says, "You know what, I want to take her home. I will manage, I want to take her home." So they used a psychology, as Jewish people do, they said, "Of course, Pani Łączkowska, we will give her to you, but not today, next weekend. We will prepare her, we wash her clothes and everything. We'll pack her up, you come next Friday morning and you take her." When she came next Friday morning, I was gone. Where was I gone? In the name of God, they uh, tried to smuggle me out of the country. So, they forged my passport and they gave me to a strange man.

You were five, now...


at this point?

1947, yeah. Five. Uh, they give me to this strange man and they put me on a train. Here I already get used to the principal of the, of the orphanage and they give me to a strange man and they just run away from me. And I remember the train. The train is moving, moving and I cried so hard. I don't see anybody, just a strange man. And I cried. And then we stop in Zdzieszowice, which is on the border of Czechoslovakia. And we're being checked. And we stay there overnight. And I remember, I, I fall asleep. I cry myself to sleep. And I wake up in the morning with, like five o'clock in the morning and I see the most horrible, horrible sight. Now I understand what it was, but, a six-year-old child couldn't. I see a man with something strange on his forehead and with, with something even stranger on his, you know, a shawl. The morning prayer in tefillin and tallit. And I start screaming, crying. I get scared. I never seen. It's not a pretty sight for someone that never seen it. It's not, eh, it's like you see a ghost. It's somebody, you know. To us it's a beautiful sight because now, we know what it is. And at that point, a young man comes up to me, a Polack and he says, "Why are you crying, what are you crying about?" Eh, "I want my mommy, I want my mommy." "Who is your mommy?" "My mommy's, eh, Pani Łączkowska." "Where do you live?" "In Sosnowiec," and I, I didn't know the address. I only knew that I live in a large building and on one side is a, a patisserie shop and on the other side is a meat shop. And, and there is a big house and I live in Sosnowiec. "Who are you here with?" "This man." And I showed the man. At that point the man is being checked. Also, you know, they were checking people whether they bring dollars. And they find in his shoe thirty dollars. And they take it away from him. And the poor Jew starts crying. He says, "Not only that they gave me a child that I don't know who the child is, you took my thirty-five dollars." And he keeps crying. So this young man, this Polack says, "What do you mean, they gave you a child?" And he looks at the passport and he finds out that the, the stamp that is on the photograph does not match with the, you know, passport. So, now [laughs] we are being interrogated, both of us.

By who?

The guy is from U.B.E which is like KBG.

In Poland.

Handsome man, you know. And I always. It's funny that I married a short guy because I didn't want to shake hand with--when I was a child, with, with short people, short men. I only wanted tall men. And uh, they checked me and they, they take me away from the man. And this young man takes me to his home. He's newly married. And I sleep with him and his wife, you know, in bed, between the two of them. But he, he has bad feelings. He feels that he should not keep the child. He should find the mother. And he sends his--he was a big shot--so he's got all these people working for him.

This is sort of like the secret service, CIA, secret service.

Like our FBI, our FBI, IRS, you know.


Ok. And he sends this guy to Sosnowiec, which is not a big city. At that time maybe was--I don't know, it was 250 people, maybe 300,000. But before it was--I don't know, 80,000 people, maybe 100,000. And the guy goes and for a week he looks for my mother, cannot find her. This man is, something is wrong. He--Jewish woman--Jewish child and he's...I keep talking about my mother, my mother wears a cross. I keep telling him I, that my mother, my mother has a cross. So he knows something's not kosher. And he keeps sending these people, he says, "Don't come to me until you find her mother." Well, that man, that man is alive today and, and he's part of my life too. He's about seventy-seven years old.

They found her.

Mr. Grit. Yeah. He, he was also like my guardian angel. Um, and he found my mo...they found my mother. And he said to me later on, when I was older, he says, he will never, ever forget when my mother came to his house. How she kneeled in front of me and I kneeled too and we were hugging each other for half an hour and crying. And, and uh, just saying hello to each other and, eh, of course.

Your mother must have been out of her mind.

So my mother was extremely conscious, now right, right now she was scared of the Jewish people. Because every few minutes, you know, and that, that time she went to court, we went to court, because they were suing her. They wanted me back. And the judge said, "Listen, until she's eighteen years old she stays with this mother." And I remember holding to my mother's skirt. In, in that, eh, you know, eh, we went to the courthouse. And the judge kept saying, "I don't want to hear about it. This girl will make a decision when she's eighteen years old."

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