All the time I used to live in hiding. When anyone came I hid in a wardrobe
Grandmother Antonina lived with her daughter Natalia Kosko, a childless widow, who later became my mother. At first Natalia was against hiding a Jewish child, but her mother had her way. They both counted on my parents reappearing to take me away, but weeks passed and my parents did not appear.
Natalie was very afraid, she knew that she was risking her life — there was a foreign baby in the house, with no documents. Her mother persuaded her that the best solution would be for her to baptize me as her own child. She asked a priest for assistance.
Thanks to him on the 18th of December 1942, after dusk, I was baptized. I became the daughter of Natalia Kosko, widow, aged 43 (the priest rejuvenated her by seven years, to make it more plausible that I was her child). I now had legal papers, but mother was still afraid that somebody may denounce us to the Germans and she kept me hidden at home. Out of fear she kept drinking moonshine. It was then that she began to drink.
Grandmother Antonina used to care for me as for her own grandchild. She died in 1944. After liberation mother did not want to stay in Bełżyce. She decided to leave when two Jews who had survived the Holocaust and returned to the town were murdered. She was afraid that someone may recognise me and do us harm.
We left for the recovered territories, to Słupsk. Mother sewed caps, which I used to finish, and she sold them on the market. We barely had enough to live on. I had one dress, which I wore for the whole year. Mother took care that I studied. That was for her of utmost importance. In spite of a difficult situation she made me finish my studies. She was not effusive, she did not display much emotion, did not kiss me or cuddle. But she became very attached to me, she used to say that for me she leap into fire for me. She was very keen on me taking communion, but I failed to pass the exam and had to take it at a later date. Although I did well at school, I could not memorise the prayers. It was for this that for the first time in my life she gave me a beating.
When I was 12 I began to suspect that Natalia was not my birth mother. I felt it in her behaviour, her coolness, in the way she treated me. I asked her point-blank and then she told me the truth.