Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Helena Manaster - December 9, 1983


Helena, if you could tell us something about your experiences um, before the war began, a little bit perhaps of um, your childhood, your parents um, your brothers and sisters and the kind of life that you had before war broke out in 1939.

Yes, this has been quite a long time. It's been--I'm sixty-six now and it's been forty-four years since the beginning of the--World War II. Uh, it's really my childhood that was quite sheltered. I came from a very wealthy family. My father was uh, his name was Joseph Manaster. Uh, he was a very rich man. I was the eighth out of ten children. So, I had uh, three brothers and six sisters and uh, we were very close. We lived in different places uh, because we went--my father has an estate where we came together for vacation, but during the year uh, we spent it in different places and different schools. But the vacations were wonderful and um, our brothers were so close. It was a religious home. My father had a beard and mother wore a sheitel--at least the ???. I myself uh, attended a religious school they called it beit yaakov and uh, I myself was very religious in those days. I remember when uh, I started high school and I had to attend it on Saturday too. I just was sitting and listening. I wouldn't touch a pencil to write so I think that this explains my background. One, one of my sisters was married to a rabbinical family which my brother-in-law was supposed to become a rabbi eventually. And, so this was only though '39. Such a sheltered life, even it was a tragic event we lost our mother in '35. But, as they say life goes on and we survived it with great sorrow. But the big tragedy came after the war broke out and there was so many places and so many faces and so many events, it's even hard to describe and hard to put this in chronological order. Uh, say the war started the first of September '39 and the state was in such a place that Poland was divided between the Germans and the Russians, because uh, the Germans came from the West and the Russians came from the East and it was a long time in Polish history Poland was again divided and we were just on the border when the Russians came and a month later it was October and they nationalized. So naturally they threw us out and, uh...

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