Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Monczyk-Laczkowska Ferber - December 7, 1999


You once told me that um, and I don't know which, which part of the Jewish education it was, but that P...when you were being tutored it reminded you a lot of Catholicism.

Yeah, it did. Well, yeah.

You resented that. So, I'm not sure which part of, maybe it was with the Hirsch's or...

Well, I resented that the fact that they uh, they were cursing the--Jesus and, you know. Like, Rabbi Kreiswirth, he explained it to me, he was a rabbi. Jesus was a rabbi, he told me. He was a rabbi and we would have honored him if he wouldn't have [laughs] baptized himself. But the moment he baptized himself, this, this young teacher in the Jordan River baptized Jesus, he was [laughs] no more Jew. He was like uh, you know, he was a momzer, he was a. But Rabbi Kreiswirth, the way he explained, it was different and, you know. It was a wonderful explanation of, of you know. And I still think of Jesus as a smart man and as a religious man, as a rabbi. Although he caused the ??? a lot of tsuris, but, you know, but I can't. What I'm trying to tell you that Rabbi Kreiswirth was objective. He's very religious, but he's more objective. He would--you know that in front of a Gentile person you're not supposed to open Jewish wine because it becomes traif, ok. That's the law. Rabbi Kreiswirth didn't care. First of all he had my mother sitting next to him at the Shabbat dinner on Friday night. She was the Righteous Gentile. And when he spoke--one day I'll show you the video from my wedding. Of course it's uh, we didn't have a sound. When he spoke, he didn't call her a goy. A goy, a goy, always. I resented the, the goy, the. I know it's nothing wrong. It's like you call a Tsadík or a Tsadéket. I don't like the goy, you understand. He called her a Righteous Gentile. Righteous woman, righteous, uh. You know, something righteous. He gave her all the respect and he didn't care if the wine was opened in front of her or not. Because there were certain rules and regulations and what she has done for me, he could never repay. And he would never, he couldn't comprehend that she is not. And he only spoke very highly of her.


He never asked the question, did he get any money for you, did she. Because no money could repay eh, repay this, this, this heroic act that, that she has done.

You knew that she saved your life.

Of course.

You knew exactly what would have happened.

Of course, of course.

Ok and of course, he knew.

Right. So uh, so now we are in Belgium with these girls, so now they're trying to protect themselves. They already brought the, the kids out of Poland, in the name of God. So they're sending Sida to, to Montreal. Uh, this uh, other girl to England. Now Sława, myself and Marek is left in, in Antwerp. And they're deciding that it takes too long for, for my visa. Something is wrong. You know, they apply to the American Consulate for an exchange student for a visa and I'm not getting the visa. So, they don't know what to do with me and, you know, I'm being bored. I, how, how long can I take Berlitz, you know. I'm going to Berlitz, Berlitz, Berl...but I would like to take some, you know, other studies. And I'm learning with the Rabbi and so on. Now Sława is giving him problems and Marek is giving them problems. Marek is being shipped also some place. With Sława, they like her very much, but they know that they're not going to have naches from her, especially if they send her to America, like me, you know. So they sending her to Israel, because they think at least [laughs] she'll marry a Jew. Otherwise she would have love with a schwartze in America,


you know. So now Sława and I. Sometimes I have to tell you that no matter how much I love Jewish religion, I had identity crisis. Especially, there was a church in Antwerp, on the corner of uh, Shalot Elayim and I used to go to the church sometimes with Sława. And one day we went there, we had uh, very difficulties with our identity and we would kneel, we'd start praying, we got, we got fed up with the Jews because they were um, not nice to us, you know, especially the religious ones and, and they were telling us all kinds of things. And, eh, but anyway Sława gets the word that she's going to Israel. She's going to Israel, poor girl, she says to me, "You know, let's take a picture, you and I, at least we have a picture of each other." So this is the picture [laughs] that I sent to my mother that had the stamp on...

That had the Antwerp on the back. [laughs]

Yeah and take a beautiful picture. I'll show you that picture. Sława and I have a picture. She goes to Israel and we have a goodbye party for her. I am the only one left in Belgium.

What happened?

Marek is gone.

What happened to Sława?

She goes to Israel. Now she goes to Israel and um, I don't hear from her, I don't hear from her. Oh, she already met some guy and she's already in love, you know. Four weeks after she left, I get a telephone call from Rabbi Kreiswirth, he says, "Miriam," it's five o'clock in the morning--he says, "Miriam, you've got to come to my consolaria, you know, to my office, because your father is here. Your father is here. You have, you found, we found your father." I put a babushka on my head because in front of rabbi you have to always be covered, even if you are single, you know. Um, I go there and I see this man and he looked like you, actually. He had grey hair, very nice face, very nice eyes. He was sitting with another man and he, he opened his arms to me and, and in Polish he says "mōj córka ??? I found you and my, my wonderful daughter, I found you and I, I want to bring you to Israel." I look at him and I said to him. I mean, I was a grown man uh, woman, I was not a child. I said, "Excuse me, but um, what's your name?" "Oh, my name is Monczyk and I am from Benjamin and I had a daughter your age and..." And I said, "What age was that? What year was she born?" He says, "Oh, she was born in 1939." I said, "But that's wrong already because I was born 1942." And, and he says, "But you're my daughter because I told everybody in Israel that I'm going to get my daughter and you, you have to be my daughter."


And I hugged him and I kissed him and I said, "I'm sorry, but I have uncles in New York." "Oh, so let's call, these are my brothers, let's call them." So we keep calling and my uncles answer. At that point I was in contact already on the phone...


and by mail with my uncles. And my uncles ask him questions and, and he's a totally different man. His name is Monczyk, but he, he has a different name. He's not one of the brothers and they're trying to explain to him that...They look at me, he looks at me and I look at him and I said, "I'm so sorry, but, but I, I cannot be your daughter. I'm not your daughter." And he says to me, "But please be my daughter. I told everybody in Israel already that I'm bringing my daughter home. And, and please be my daughter." And, of course, we sent him home without uh, you know, he was heartbroken. But at that point I, I couldn't become his daughter


because I had blood relatives in, in New York and I was uh, you know, waiting for a visa to America. But in the meantime, the rabbis after uh, Sława left for Israel--so, I, oh, I said to him, "How do you know me? How do you know that I was in Belgium?" He said, "Oh, there was a picture of you in the, in the Israeli paper." So what happened. Sława, when she came to Israel


She met right away a reporter, she told him my story and her story. And uh, he printed in the paper and that's how this man found out where I was and he flew to Belgium to, to get me. Of course, he went home with nothing. And n...now I--we were back to square one. The only problem was that I was supposed to go to Israel now because I was getting bored in Belgium. And I was supposed to wait for a visa to America in Israel, but at that point, they were afraid to, to send me to Israel because they were afraid that I will stay there now since this man wanted me to be his daughter. Uh, they thought I will stay there, I will start liking the life over there. And I will have a problem leaving Israel going to America and they did promise my uncles that they will get me to America to, to reunite them with me. So, I stayed in Bel...Belgium. So Rab...Mr. eh, Mr. Gross, Sherman Gross was also getting fed up with the Con...Consul and he didn't understand why I wasn't getting visa. It's been already, I arrived in Belgium '61 July, it was, it was August, September, October, November, December. It was January 1962, and I wasn't getting visa. So he had, he had a great idea. He made this wonderful banquet. He found out that the Consul was Jewish and it was a woman. So he invited c...the Consul and her husband to his home for dinner and uh, you know. And he invited Rabbi Kreiswirth and other people and the poor woman [laughs] when she got to, to Gross's home, she didn't know what was waiting for her, the Consul, you know. They fardrayt her the Kop so much, they talked to her with their psychology that they get from Talmud, they are so sharp, you know, in their minds, that she went home [laughs]. Two days later I got a visa to America as an exchange student. So February 18, 1962, I left for America.

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