I learned that
I was Jewish
when I was eighteen
I do not remember the ghetto, remember nothing and nobody from that period. My life started on the 2nd of May 1943, in Wilcza street, at my Polish parents — Anastasia and Walerian Sobolewski. I was then nearly four years old. With them I safely lived through the war. I shared the good and bad times with my parents. In the winter of 1943 my father was imprisoned, as a hostage, in Pawiak prison. We went every day with mother to check whether his name appeared on the lists of those shot. Fortunately, after several months he reappeared at home. After the war father, as an “economic saboteur”, spent six years in a Stalinist prison. My mother, a Russian whose Polish was poor, had to work hard physically in spite of a sick heart and hypertension in order to keep us. She died in 1958 at 59.
My father’s continuing absence created a distance between us. He was an older man, and I was a teenager, with funny ideas in my head. After mother’s death our relations grew even more difficult. One day, in anger, my father told me that I was not their daughter. That was a terrible moment for both of us. At first we were silent for a long while, then he told me all he knew about my past.
Thus, when I was eighteen, I came to know that I was a Jewish child saved from the ghetto. I experienced a great shock. I felt as if in one moment my world had ceased to exist. All that I knew about myself turned to be untrue. I started searching for vestiges of that “other world”. I found, in Israel and the United Kingdom, relatives who survived the Genocide, I talked to people who knew my relatives, I penetrated archives. For many years now I have been interested in victims of the Holocaust, and in the survivors. That has become most important to me.
I was born under a lucky star. I have received much more good than bad in life. On my path from the beginning I have met friendly people. First someone saved my life, then took care of me, then I received everything that a child may receive from parents: love, care, family warmth. I was lucky in every aspect.