Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Monczyk-Laczkowska Ferber - December 7, 1999

Return to Polish Mother, Continued

Matura, yeah.

I finish it, I uh, I go to Krakow and I pass the exams to a theater school, which was extremely hard to get. Because on 250 candidates, there was only fifty places or 60 places. Why did I get in? Because I had a protectia, which means that I had someone that spoke for me and it was Sara Rothbaum, which was a very known artist, like Ida Kaminska, you know, in Warsaw, Sara Rothbaum was from Krakow uh, from Wroclaw, excuse me.

From Wroclaw?


How did she know you?

She knew me, she didn't know me, but she knew someone in Katowice. He was Danuta Harubna, which was also Jewish, who befriended me and she spoke to Sara Rothbaum. Sara Rothbaum called, called the theater school in, in, eh, Krakow and she says, "The, the girl is [laughs] Jewish. I want you to put" [smacks her hands], you know. She had something to say, you know. She spoke for me and I got in. And it was very unfair that I got in because I was leaving. I was leaving Poland at that point and I uh, um, I took the place of someone who could have, you know, really. And Sara Rothbaum was extremely, extremely upset with me when she found out that I was leaving and here she made all the effort and so on.

Do you remember if you thought about something like a network of Jews now? All of a sudden you were part of another community?

Yeah, I guess so. I, I, I guess so, yes. But now. Le...let's go back to the, to the, you know, on my birthday. On my birthday, this very handsome man, very handsome, about also twenty-five years old, comes in to my door with translator, because he comes straight from America. Handsome man, with a translator. He knocks on my door, he--my, my mother lets him in--and he says to me, to my mother, that he brings the gifts from my uncles from America. And he would like to give me the opportunity to uh, to come to America. He didn't say Israel [laughs] he said America. Well, you know, America was like another planet in 1960. It was impossible to get to America. But he says to me that, you know, "First we will get you to Belgium, and in Belgium, we will send an invitation from Stern College, New York, so you will get a exchange student visa. And that's how we will get you to, to America."

What was the college?


Stern, oh sure.

So [pause] at this point he resides in Belgium. What did I find out later on, of course, I will give you the preview. Rabbi Schneerson--may he rest in peace...

The Lubavitcher Rebbe?

Yes. In 1960 went on national television or radio, you know and he said like that, I'm sending my colleagues into Poland to look for Jewish children.

Fishing expedition?

Whoever has any information--you see, I talk about it I get shivers because I feel like crying--and um, I want you to come forward and I want you to give me the address because my colleagues are going to go all over the world, all over Europe, to fetch Jewish children. So my uncle takes the opportunity. The only piece of paper that he took and he brought it to Rabbi Schneerson.

He had the same piece of paper.

And Rabbi--no, not the same. I don't think he's got the same. Yeah, uh.

So he kept the address?

Rabbi Schneerson gives it to, to Rabbi Hirsch. And Rabbi Hirsch shaved off his payes, shaves off his beard, puts a beautiful suit on. Uh, shake hands--which he never did in his life--with a woman. Because when he got to Poland, that's the twenty-four year old man who knocked on my door.

Rabbi Hirsch.

Yes. He kisses my mother's hand, because that's...

That's the--yeah.

He wants to--it's a very dangerous, 1960, communist country. He could be jailed. The dolmatser the translator that he takes from Wroclaw They take the chance, he takes the chance and he goes and looks. But with me he has no problem, because he has the address. So the only thing that he does, he knocks on the door. And here I am. And he tells my mother what he's planning to do. It's May, and, eh, I will be finishing, I will be finishing my high school. And, he will uh, you know, he'll wait. But during the vacation, during July and August I will come to Belgium. They will, they will invite me to Belgium. That's the plan. And he leaves. And as fascinated as my mother is with all the plans, in the middle of the night she gets up and she says, "I'm not allowing you to go. I don't know where he's going to take you. Look at, he's a handsome young man, who knows. Maybe, you know, they take pretty girls and they put them in whore houses. You're not going anywhere with this man, unless I go with you."

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