Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Helena Manaster - December 9, 1983

Life in Monastery

I just don't know how I got that courage. And that's how I did. And I came there, they were very surprised and it wasn't according to their plan. It was a party or something. I said, "I will just sit in the hallway and wait 'til the thing end and then I will go wherever I am supposed to sleep. I was sitting--it was midnight--in that hallway--it was a joint apartment with somebody else. Turned out later it was a professor of Polish literature and he was a known anti-Semite.

What was his name?

Uh, I really don't remember exactly. Dironowski or something like that. His daughter, who she wasn't married, was uh, by education a nurse. And she was involved in uh, a Polish organization who helped uh, such people like me and say Polish people, or Polish orphans. Uh, they use to bring from other places where the Germans killed off the parents. She saw me sitting and got suspicious and ask who I was. I told her that my husband was an officer and he is hiding in the underground. I don't have a place where to go. And she arranged for me in a monastery. It was in Kraków, the order of them was Capuchin order. They had several buildings and they gave away one building for refugees or for sick people and she was in charge of that building. So, that was a blessing. She put me in that uh, monastery and I said, "Oh, what really what a miracle and here I will survive then end of--'til the end of the war." It was the summer of '43. It was just the middle of the war. Who could believe it, I would survive so many years like this? Which I lived in that monastery expecting a baby. In mean time I tried to help them a little bit in the kitchen or something, because I wasn't so sick I couldn't do anything. And when my time came, I went for the delivery to a hospital, which I arranged for myself. Of course, everywhere I was Browolski name and I was treated as a Polish--it wasn't a good time for Polish people either because they sabotaged and the reprisal for that was horrible. There was several places in ??? Kraków, Warsaw, just down the street people--whatever they did, this was their way of doing--catching people in the street and executing, so innocent people who never were involved in politics or underground lost their lives. So, I uh, went to that hospital and it was October already, 'cause Arthur was born October the sixth and that manager of that home for the sick people, his name was Tadeusz ??? and he was very sympathetic. It turned out later that he suspected--he knew who I was, that I was Jewish. He was by education a lawyer. Uh, he was a religious man. He was involved in the church and helped him as a minister. He took me to the hospital and on the way to the hospital, he ask me how I will name the child. And I said, "If it will be a son, it will be your name." [laughs] ??? he called Arthur Tadeusz ??? for many, many years he left it go--just couldn't change it.

What was his response?



Oh, he was very pleased, was very moved. Um, so after the delivery a few days later, I went back to that monastery. But Arthur was a very sickly child and several times I went into the hospital and people who--there, there in that monastery, they said, "Oh, the child is so sick, it will die and you have to baptize it." I, I to uh, explain I want to wait 'til my husband will come back, after the war, but I couldn't put it off any longer so I baptized him and he has uh, certificate...

Of baptism...

...of baptism. [laughs] Yeah. It didn't hurt him. But it was very strange for me coming from such a religious background to baptize this child...


...and when I thought of them--my mother and father--it really hurt. But, he survived. Thank God he didn't die. [laughs]

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