Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Monczyk-Laczkowska Ferber - December 7, 1999



[laughs] He's got payes.

[laughs] It's a year later now.

Yes, he's got a big hat, doesn't shake hand. I'm not allowed to even get close to him. And uh, you know, Mrs. Hirsch is there and they're taking us to, to their apartment, Belgela 93 Antwerp, Antwerpia. And we live with them. And now it becomes a real Jewish home. They're strictly, strictly kosher--which were, they were always kosher because in Poland he didn't eat. I couldn't understand why he never took me to a restaurant, you know. Now I understood why. When he was in Poland. They never, we never ate anywhere, you know. We always met in my mother's house or when we went, we met, met on a, in a park someplace on a bench. But they never ate in front of me. And I couldn't imagine, I said, what these people. They probably had their own food. But now we are in a strictly Orthodox environment. Not Orthodox, Hasidic. We are among Hasidim, ok.

Strictly kosher home.

Strictly kosher home.

Did you have any idea about that?

Shocked. No. And that's where the shock begins, because all of a sudden, like [claps hands] Shabbos comes, no questions asked. You don't do this, you don't do this, you don't do this. We are, like, in shock. My mother uses the elevator during Shabbos because she's a--but I walk stairs with them. And they were on the ninth floor or whatever. But they're giving my mother a very good time and me. They-- we're traveling to Holland, we're traveling all over um, Belgium. Uh, we uh, we talk to other Jewish people. Some of the Jewish people, men don't look at me. They talk like this, [puts head down] you know, with the kapotas and the white stockings. They belong to the...

Oh my.

to this shul of the, the rabbitsical Very, you know. And my mother starts feeling this ill feeling. One day--you know, on Shabbat they don't open any letters, or anything--one day as we were walking dow...up the stairs after synagogue, my mother took the elevator. But before she went to the elevator, the mailbox was open. And there was a letter in the mailbox that somebody opened before Shabbos so they could read it. You know, a goy or whatever, maybe the mailman. And it was written in Polish. It was a letter from the translator from Wroclaw. And he told Mr. Hirsch, Rabbi Hirsch, that he owes him that much money for this, for, for Mirosłava Łączkowska, that much money for Sława from Wroclaw, that much for this--that much money. Look, he was, he was a translator. He was a poor Jewish man. He, I mean, somebody needed to pay him for his time. My mother read this. They sending you, they, they take money for you. She was so much against them, so much against them that you cannot even imagine. Sh...she was giving me, it was like living hell. I lived with her in the same room. They gave us room. She didn't sleep at night. She was giving me problems. "You're not going anywhere. I don't want you to go." Some--at one point she had, her heart was uh, accepting it, but her mind, when she started to think with her mind, she didn't want any part of it. "You're going back with me. There is no way that you're going to stay here." And, and she was. I was crying and she was crying. We didn't sleep for nights.

Did you tell Hirsch's?

They heard it.

They heard it.

I mean, it was an apartment. It's not a house like that, it was an apartment with, with three bedrooms. They heard it, they see me crying, they see me, you know, my eyes were uh, circles under my eyes and, and...

What did you think about that? I mean, she was right in a way.

She was right. I, I had mixed feelings. And at one point uh, I was sitting with my mother and playing cards. And the, the name of the card is thousand, you know and she won a thousand from me. And [laughs] it just so happened the rabbi came in, into the door. And she says, he says, "You know what? Uh, we got a visa for, for Mira to go to America to the Stern College and here is thousand dollars he says. I want you to stay in Belgium a little bit," because my mother had a friend also on, on the suburbs of uh, of Antwerp. She had a Polish friend. "I want you to take the thousand dollars and just," it was a lot of money at that time, "just to have for your stay, you know, in Belgium. And we will, Mira's going to go to, to Stern College in New York. Um, I don't want you to worry about her because she'll be well taken care of. Except, you know, she's already nineteen years old and she knows what she's doing. She can make a decision and so." My mother said, "What, what visa? How visa? What do you mean? When did you get?" She was not a stupid woman, you know. She was not educated, but she was street wise. What did they do? They send us to beauty shop one day. In the meantime they searched her room and they found the passports under the mattress. You know, how, how Polish people...

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