Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Helena Manaster - December 9, 1983


Moses is still moving.

But they say--you know that saying, why it took 40 years because the generation who left Egypt uh, should die out. No memories from the old country, should be brought in. I think maybe this also inspired me to come back to my name. I rea...I told you I changed my name.

Yes, you did.

I took back my father's name. I think--yeah, uh...


Uh, I'm the only one who has his name. Because, you see, usually the sons carry the father's name. My brothers who survived, they, for security reasons, they changed their name from Manaster--they added the Polish ending -ski, Manasterski. I have three nephews. They live in Brazil, but their names are Manasterski, so it's not Manaster. The first one Manaster is Alexis, because he took my maiden name as middle name and he makes it Alexis Manaster Ramer but he's still Ramer. So, I think I'm the only Manaster.

To preserve your father's name?

My father's name. I think it's really just uh, in his honor.

Yeah, well. You loved him?

I wish he'd lived 'til now. I mean we--as children we were quite afraid. There was still old fashioned upbringing. It was called respect.


Yes, he was a patriarchal figure. He was an unbelievable smart man. My cousins who still remember him from the old country--everybody tells stories and uh, remembers him. He was an unbelievable smart businessman. He had a friend who was a lawyer and he always has uh, a private lawyer, because he had so much businesses. And he said once to him, "You know," his name was Fink, he said to him, "Your education, your diploma and my brain would make one good lawyer." [laughs] That famous saying, we all remembered it for years. Yes, he was really very smart.

It sounds like he was a strong man, too.

Very much so.

The way he kept on going.

Yeah, 'till he perished in the gas chamber. I don't know anything else to add to it. 'Cause I finished in that paper, if the atomic bomb will not finish us, so maybe we will go on.

Maybe we will go on...

I said Arthur has now a son; he's five-years-old. So, if not the atomic bomb, we will go on.

There's more life.

It's so funny, what life is all about. Uh, let's see. You have any other questions?

I have just uh, a couple of questions. Do you remember when the war ended [sneezes] excuse me--why you decided that you wanted to leave Poland? Did you feel that you just did not belong in Poland?

Oh, not only--first of all, the family, whoever left and uh, still remember the attachment. And my husband used to say, "If you're going to be at sea or the ocean, you would probably walk there." Yes, I wanted very much.

It was no longer home?

No, everything was, was strange--was again it was just survival I think. And even uh, economically, it was uh, very hard for us in Poland. My husband wasn't a practical man at all; he was a scientist. We never earned enough money.

So it was difficult?

So, it was quite difficult, yes. Especially, I was, I was born and raised in a rich home. It was quite hard.

You were used to something different?

Hard, yes. I used to go--I worked very hard, oh, doing dirty work, by myself, washing clothes and carrying coal. Yes, it was hard.

When did you see your husband again after the war?

Oh, ??? we saw it all the time. We were not separated for long because we were in the same place, in Kraków.

And you went on for another twenty-three years really in Poland?

Uh, since through '45 to '68, twenty-three years. Yeah, I never counted. Yes, but now its fifteen years we have been separated and we don't have any contact any more.

Are there other things that you care to recall, that you remember or find valuable to, to share?

I really don't know. Unless you could help me, with questions. It's so hard, so hard to recall such things. I think forty years is uh, quite a lifetime.

Yes, it is.

I think that's, I think that's enough.

Fine, thank you.

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