Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Monczyk-Laczkowska Ferber - December 7, 1999

Returns to Poland

You didn't have that problem.

I had a problem with recognizing--trying to be accepted, trying to make everybody accept my family, my Polish family. They didn't want to accept. But I'll tell you some other time, because you know what? I think it's getting too long. No? We...


should, how much more. Ok, let me just finish this. I resented, I tell you, it's not nice to talk--my mother-in-law is dead, and. I did not have such a good response. And even my husband, he was, he made a lot of mistakes himself. You know, when I brought my family from Poland in 1966, eh, the narrow-minded Jews who went to the concentration camp uh, did not talk nice to them. Did not--you know, now it's in style to go to Poland to find your roots and to. I mean, they were recognized by Sheirit Haplai-ta and they were honored and so on and so on. But because I was such a child, I wanted so much for them to be accepted among our Jewish crowd and they were not. And that's what hurt me so much. But I never gave up on them. Sidney, I went to Poland when nobody went to Poland. I went to Poland in 1967. I got my citizenship in November 1967, and sixty...January '66, in January '67 I was in Poland already. Poland did not have an airport. They had a little, little house with a rail...railing around. That was the whole airport when I landed in January in Warsaw. Nobody went to Warsaw. It was an iron curtain. Two people or three people arrived in Warsaw on that plane when I came in.

Did you go with Fred?

No, I went by myself.

You went alone.

I always went to Poland by myself. It was the fear. Once I went with Fred, in 1969. I was always going myself, I had the fear of somebody's going to kill me over there. Only because I was under the influence of, of our Jewish people. "Where are you going, they're going to kill you, they're going to..." In 1985, I went there with my children and I remember standing over a grave of my mother.

You found your mother's grave? Oh, your Polish mother.

My Polish mother, yeah, I'm talking about. You know, it's a different. Right now I'm with Poland. And we were standing there and uh, I was afraid somebody's going to come and shoot us. I always had the fear. I never wanted to have children with me, you know, in Poland. So, but once we went--oh, and my mother, my Polish mother lived "til the age of 83. And she had a stroke and she became uh, she became a vegetable. Actually, she did not, she walked, but she, she was out of her mind. So I was that year in Poland few times, but she was out of it. And when she died, it was very sad because when she died and I went to Poland for the funeral, I didn't want Fred to come with me. The whole city came to, to the, to the funeral to, to see if I'm going to kneel. If I'm going to take communion, if I am, I am a Jew or a Catholic. And believe me, while I was in that church, she had a very fancy funeral because that's very important to the Polish people. She-- whatever money I sent her she didn't use, she, she built a beautiful, made out of granite...


monument for herself. I was very much against it. I felt very uncomfortable. She had it done many, many years ago. And every time I went to the grave was her husband, ashes of her husband. Not ashes, but some of the dirt from Mauthausen we buried over there. And she had her mother and her father buried there. But she had a place for herself. Um, I was very uncomfortable because it was one of the most beautiful monuments of in the cemetery and I did not approve of it. And I knew that she wanted a fancy funeral, so I did give her a fancy funeral. I had the, the bishop come and I had the priest, few priests. It was during Martial Law she died in 1983. And I had to make a decision. It was one point, it was the communion. So you know what I did, I went to communion. I actually..

You took communion.

Yeah. I took the communion. But I didn't go [laughs] to the confessional. That's against the law.


In the split of a moment. My brother also never went to communion. He's against the church also very much. And because I went, [laughs] he followed me. Because I thought that I would give her the honor.


It was my way. The priest almost had a heart attack because he knew I was Jewish. But he couldn't, you know. You, you kneel and you open your mouth and they put the wafer. I opened my mouth, he looked at me and he couldn't take it away because--so he gave it to me, but he had almost heart attack because I was not allowed to take communion. First you go to confession and then go to a communion, so. In a part, I--but he couldn't even say it out loud that she--he only said one thing. He said, "Pani Łączkowska had a lot of secrets and she died with those secrets." He couldn't say it out loud that she saved a Jewish child and the child is here today, you know, with us or so on. It was beneath--it was not S'passt Nisht. You know, in Yiddish you say, it just didn't fit. I, I resented it because--but my brother explained it to me that, you know, as long as the Polacks did not hear straight from the priest's mouth about what, what the, what the family did for Jews, maybe it's better because this was there will be so much anti-Semitic, uh. In fact, the plaque that my, my uh, brother got when he was here during uh, 1967, when they came to the, to Randy's bar mitzvah. No, '77, I'm sorry.

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