The Zalech family found themselves
in deadly danger
The sudden appearance of a child worried the neighbours. One of them, an Ukrainian, reported to the gestapo. The Zalechas were saved by the intervention of a local priest and a Polish female translator working for the Germans. Thanks to her my current parents received from the Germans a document stating that I am a lost child from a Polish transport. Now they could officially take care of me. In that way I was saved a second time.
The Ukrainian neighbours did not give up easily, my father was afraid that they would in the end discover the truth, and that would mean death for all of us. He thus decided that we must immediately leave Rożyszcze. We the went to live in the village Irena, at my father’s stepmother, in a modest two-room cottage.
After liberation my parents moved to Janów near Łódź. It was there that in 1946 we learned that someone is looking for me. My adoptive parents had become attached to me and they did not want to give to anybody. My mother inculcated in me fear of strangers, recounting gruesome tales. I was afraid and often
I woke in the night shouting. My parents were afraid that I can be kidnapped. When a Łódź law firm employee came to Janów and started questioning about my whereabouts, my father decided to move to the Recovered Territories, to Łeba. After many years I learned that it was my grandfather who was searching for me, my mother’s father. He searched for me for the remainder of his life. Only I from his entire family was left in the whole world.
In Łeba I found out that I did not belong to the family in which I had lived from childhood. I was 11 years old. After a family dinner, a besotted with alcohol uncle called me to him, hugged me and mumbled: — “You don’t belong to our family... but we all love you”. I was as if thunderstruck. I cried all night. I did not have anyone to confide to, nor anywhere to go.
Whom am I? Where did I come from? I did not have anyone to ask. I was enclosed in a conspiracy of silence. Then I began to understand, why mother did not like me, mocked me, ridiculed me. Probably she wanted a lovely child, whereas I was skinny, awkward, sad and always frightened. All the time I tried, even in the smallest way, to earn her praise. In vain.