My Jewish parents, my Polish parents
I am a child carried out of the Warsaw ghetto in a suitcase in 1942. I was then about two years old
I was carried out by my true father, through a tunnel dug out by the Jewish fighting organisation. The tunnel led from the Muranowski square in the ghetto to the repair channel of the Sierakowska 7 street tram depot. Today that is where Stawki Street is and where the Intraco building stands. My father conveyed me to the wife of one of the workers in the depot — a Mrs Kazimiera Ciarkowska. I was asleep, with lips glued together. He asked her to keep the baby just for one night. He said that the Germans were taking everybody out of the ghetto and that he had to return for his 7 year old son, Saul. He promised to return the day after. He was in a hurry, had time only to say that my name was Pola. The next day he did not come. The days went by and nobody came to claim me.
My adoptive mother often repeated: “I did not get a penny for you, they planted you with me”
Mr and Mrs Ciarkowski and the Janus couple living with them were afraid to look after a Jewish child. Mr.Janus even wanted to leave me under the ghetto wall. Many families hid me in turn, but none of them wanted to keep me for good. I was constantly being moved, in the end I ended up with Mrs Ciarkowska. When the uprising in the ghetto finally erupted, it became clear that nobody would come for me. On the 7th of May 1943 the Salesian priests from the basilica in the Praga district furnished me with a birth certificate with the name Teresa Ciarkowska dated 23rd of December 1939. Thus I remained without an identity, without a true birth date and without a true name. After the end of the Warsaw Uprising I and my ‘mother’ were sent to a camp in Pruszków; her husband was then already dead. From there we were deported to a forced labour camp in Offenbach, not far from Frankfurt. After liberation we returned to Warsaw. In 1946 we were visited by a stranger, I heard mother discussing my aunt with him. Mother said he was a Jew looking for Jewish children. Several years later, when I already knew my past, she told me that she would only consent to giving me away to my family. She was not a tender mother, she did not play with me, did not caress me — but I had a roof over my head, clothes and food. She took care of me in her own peculiar way. She sent me to a sewing school, so that I would have a profession and be independent. The skill of sewing came in very handy — I made clothes for myself and my friends, I could earn some extra money when I was a teacher. As years progressed I wanted to learn more about my biological family. I believed, and I still believe now, that someone from them survived. After years of searching I found no trace. In childhood I did not experience parental love, that reflected itself in my own family and my relations with my daughter. I never knew how to show her feelings and be a good mother.
Teresa Wieczorek
She finished the History Faculty at the Silesia University, worked as a history teacher in high school for 30 years. She is a member of the Association of “Children of the Holocaust” in Poland. She has a daughter and a granddaughter.
Parents
Kazimiera
Ciarkowska
(1902–1970)
She had no education, nor a profession. In order to cover our expenses, she worked as a cleaner in a building enterprise.