Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Stefa (Sarah) Sprecher Kupfer - July 24, 1987

Thoughts on Mrs. Olefska

What do you think would have happened to Mrs. Orlewska if you had been discovered?

I don't think I know. Both Mrs. Orlewska and her brother would have the same fate as us they would be shot on the spot, together with us, or hung, or both or whatever they chose to do. Or maybe some torture before, maybe we know of other people, usually people know of other people. Maybe they would torture us to tell about other people.

Did she know that?

Of course. She knew. She knew, but she felt that this is what she wanted to do.

Why do you think she did it?

Well, she did it for the second reason. The first reason, let me tell you. She wasn't that young anymore when she got married. She was married to a convert. And she was a wealthy lady, and her husband used her. She bought him clothing, she bought him a house, I don't know what else she bought him, and then he left her. And I don't know how long they were married, but he left her, and she was quite heartbroken. It would stand to reason that she would not like Jews, to put it mildly being wronged by a Jew like this. And Momma asked her this, and she said well, when I was a little girl, and I was coming home from school and we were crossing a frozen lake, children were crossing by foot, and apparently, the ice was thin and she fell in, the ice broke and she fell in and she was drowning. At that point a man in a carriage, in a sled, was passing through and he saw her and both he and the driver jumped in the water and pulled her out. And this was a Jewish man. So she was convinced that the Jewish man saved her life so she could save Jewish lives later. And this was her belief. She um, got no payment from us. She uh, sold some jewelry, some clothing, whatever and if Momma offered her a little payment for her troubles, she would say, I can't take money from you, I'm not doing this for money. If Momma would say, so give it to a poor person, Momma really wanted to give her something to show a little appreciation, what could we do, she would say, there are no poorer people than you. No light, no sun, no freedom, no food, who is poorer? She would go to Mass every morning, she would pray for us. Yet, after the war, after the Russians, after we were liberated, we came back to Krosno, and Momma went to see her, on her own, she left us with somebody, and she wanted to really be in touch, she begged her, please, please, please, don't come here anymore, don't write to me, let's not be in touch, I am afraid for my life. My Polish friends and neighbors will point a finger at me and say that I saved Jewish lives, something should happen to me. You see the Polish underground was very anti-Semitic, Polish people were very anti-Semitic, Mrs. Orlewska is one in I don't know how many million. But we never had a chance to even reciprocate, this is a very weak word to use.

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