Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Helena Manaster - December 9, 1983

Life in Kraków

We survived all this and we came to Kraków, now we are somebody else, our name was Browolski. We didn't have any money. We didn't have nowhere to go, what to do. But my husband studied all the years in Kraków mathematics and the medicine and he had some friends. So, we just figured we try. What would be worse than death? What was there to lose? So we went to one doctor, he was a bachelor, I don't remember his number but I can see the street and I don't know the name in Kraków. And we stayed with him for three days, because he knew, you know, hiding a Jew was death penalty. People really risked their lives to help us. We were there three days. In the meantime, he got us in connection with underground. So that's how it started with life in a different scheme. Almost life in the street, as I said, walking with the death on your side. 'Cause any minute anybody would be suspicious or anybody who will say, or knows that uh, I am Jewish, that was it. And I was pregnant. And that was the best part of it. The worse they say, later may be the best. I didn't know uh, what to do in the beginning. My husband had a friend who started together with him in medicine. She wasn't in Kraków, she was there in another part and she married an Austrian. And uh, she was on the east side. She was an engineer. They, them lived in Vienna. I just got a letter from them. Their name is Samrod, but her mother whose name was Maria Stupka, she helped us. We lived there with my oldest son, Arthur who was born during the weeks and we survived, a great deal with her help. We spent days there, because it was very dangerous to be in the street, how can you walk all the days? The money we got from the underground we used to for uh, to buy places--I wouldn't call it hotel, just a place to sleep for the night. And the days we spent on the streets in the parks, on the banks of the river, in the churches, ??? mainly in the churches and a great deal in the house of that Maria Stupka. At least we could take a bath there and get a meal.

Nobody suspected Maria Stupka?

Uh, um, no. We tried not to embarrass her too much, we just came once in a few days, not, not too often. And uh, spend there a few hours, which was very important. And she got in touch with a doctor--a gynecologist--and told her who I was. I thought I would get a abortion and she didn't want to do it. She said, "It will be much easier for you to survive being pregnant, because nobody would suspect that a Jewish person's pregnant. We just leave it," she said "to God, but then it will happen if people survived, so it will the child otherwise, what do you lose? So it'll die later. Why should we do it now?" But I still didn't have a, a place where to stay. Still walking the streets, meeting in the churches, because we couldn't really even walk together, because it also makes suspicion. Once I had an arrangement with a family where I was suppose to stay overnight; they didn't know who I was. I was the--I was a wife of a Polish officer fought in the underground, someplace in Hungary. So the Poles uh, felt obliged--it was a patriotic deed to help such a person. So I am supposed to stay overnight with the family, but the night before, I didn't have anywhere to go. So I thought to myself, what would be the difference. I have to go back tomorrow. I don't have nowhere to go tonight. I would just go in the last minute before curfew they cannot throw me out.


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