I was taught that currently my name is Marysia Butkiewicz. I knew how to cross myself and say a prayer
In 1943 the Wilno ghetto was liquidated. Nanny, persuaded that my whole family had perished, baptised me as her own child. She was hiding with me in Wilno at her brother’s, but soon the neighbours started being interested in me and she moved in with her cousin, who lived in a small secluded house in Niemenczyn. There, in a dugout in the forest we hid till the end of the war. Nanny used to go to the village to weave, and then I would be taken to the house and played in a corner. During surprise visits I was hidden in the cellar. Once I was thrown there in a hurry. I bruised myself a lot then, but I knew that I must not utter a sound. Another time, when the home was visited by a policeman, I was hidden under
a feather quilt in a rush. I went through a shock — I fainted and lost speech for a couple of days. I was scared all the time, I knew that I must not tell the truth. Asked whether I am a Jew, I was supposed to deny, kneel down and say a prayer and the Loreto litany.
After the war we left with Nanny for Poland, and ended up in Węgorzewo in the Olsztyn voivodeship. For several days we were fed by the Repatriation Office, then we had to fend for ourselves. Nanny sold my mother’s fur and two pieces of sewing material, and with the money bought a cow, thin and neglected. We fed, cared for it and it gave 30 litres of milk per day. We sold the milk and lived on that income. For many years she was our provider.
In 1947 men came searching for Jewish children. Nanny told them that she will not give me away. I was very attached to her, I did not remember my parents, I could not imagine that I could part with her. She was to me the nearest person in the world,
I could not function without her.
I gave up schooling, though I was the best student in my class. I started work and began earning money for our upkeep. With my first wages I bought Nanny a piece of cretonne for a dress. She showed it with pride to all her neighbours.
I never called her “mother”. When I was older, I wanted to, but I could not overcome myself. I was very shy and timid. I did not know then that nanny waited for it — she never told me herself. When I married and had a son, Nanny became a grandmother and we all called her that. She was with me until her death, she helped me raise my children. Her grandchildren adored her.