Hi Kasia. Did you get the photos? Nice, aren't they?
The pendant? Yes. You're right. This is an oriental pendant.
Where did I get it? It's from my aunt from Israel.
What? That you didn't know I'm Jewish? Because I'm not!
My mom? My mother is also a native Pole! Father too!
is also Polish.
And Grandpa, who died in the Uprising, was also a native Pole!
The aunt from Israel? Yes. She is 100% Jewish!
What? That it doesn't
Because it is a very confusing story which my aunt!
Mom told it to me once.
You know that after
the fall of the Uprising, my grandmother was left alone with two children.
Uncle Tolek was five, and my mother was two years old.
It was very hard for Grandma, but somehow, they survived until liberation.
Uncle Tolek was always acting like an adult.
He looked after my mom and the house when grandma went to work.
Even when he started school, he stayed home, helping more time Grandma than running around with his pals. Even in college, he would find some extra work to help Grandma. It got a little easier when my mom grew up old enough to take over some household chores.
Uncle Tolek met a
girl in college. He became totally crazy about her.
At home, he kept telling my grandmother and mother how fabulous Mila was.
They have the same taste, mental associations, and reactions to everything, and sometimes he has an impression that despite the age difference, they are identical twins!
He finally brought
this miraculous wonder home.
And she conquered both my grandma and my mother at once!
She began to visit them often.
Grandma invited her for dinner because Mila lived alone.
Her parents lived in Silesia. Mila was the only child, but she mentioned that her mother had a son, who was killed as a little baby during the occupation.
Tolek and Mila were
an inseparable couple.
And they really were much alike, including even their facial features.
Only she had much darker hair.
Then they started talking about marriage.
Those were the old days, and common law cohabitation was not yet in vogue.
My grandma asked Mila
about her family.
It was known that Mila was Jewish, but neither she nor Tolek practiced a religion.
Grandma was a bit religious, so uncle Tolek and my mother were baptized and went to communion.
Grandma had nothing against a civil marriage.
One time Mila brought
some pictures. In one of the pictures was her mother.
Grandma asked Mila where her mother came from and what her mother's maiden name was. Mila did not know but promised to ask about it.
Grandma asked if she could also ask her mother under what circumstances her first son died. This surprised Mila a little.
Since she was about to travel to see her parents, she promised to ask about it.
When Mila returned,
she came to us that same evening.
And she said that thanks to my grandmother, she found out what happened to her older brother.
Mila's mother first husband died during the defense of Warsaw in 1939.
Her mother landed in the ghetto with Natan, her son, who was born a month before the Germans attacked Poland.
At the beginning of 1941, she escaped with the child from the ghetto and hid for several months.
One day, when she went shopping at the market, she was accosted by two blackmailers ("szmalcownicy") who demanded money.
She had no money and tried to run away.
They caught up with her a few blocks from her apartment and were so angry that they took her straight to the police station.
She was taken to a camp, where she survived until the end of the war.
It was also there she met her current husband.
Immediately after the liberation, Mila's mother went to Warsaw.
The house she was hiding in was no more, and no one could tell her anything.
All the time this
story was told, Grandma was acting very weird.
As if she couldn't catch her breath or wanted to say something and couldn't.
Then she asked Mila what her mother's surname was at that time.
Mila replied that the surname of her mother's first husband was Birnbaum, but while hiding, she used her maiden name, which sounded more Polish.
It was Bodek in her documents, but her mom did not have them with her when she was caught, and at the police, there was no chance of mentioning it.
And here Grandma surprised everyone because she asked, "Bodek? Not Brodek?".
Mila said it was possible. She wasn't paying attention because she was more concerned about what happened with her brother.
It seemed that this nearly two-year-old child was left alone in the apartment.
And it probably died of hunger because Mila's mother did not say a word to the police about the apartment and the child.
When Mila was gone,
her grandmother locked herself in the room with Uncle Tolek.
After a short time, Uncle Tolek flew out of the room as if fired from a slingshot and left, slamming the entrance door.
My mom came into the room and asked my grandma why Uncle Tolek flew out in such anger.
Grandma said, "Because he can't marry Mila".
She did not want to say more that evening.
Uncle Tolek was not
home for two days.
Finally, Grandma contacted Mila and asked her to persuade Uncle Tolek to come back and listen to what she had to say.
Mila was also angry with my grandmother because Uncle Tolek told her what my grandma said.
But eventually, she agreed that they both would come to see my grandmother in the evening.
The atmosphere of the meeting was grave.
Grandma said she understood them perfectly, but they should listen to what she had to say, and then they could decide what to do.
Well. Before the war,
my grandmother got a job in Warsaw and had a small apartment close to her
When Germans occupied Warsaw, they established a ghetto.
The Jews who lived in grandma's street were ordered to move to the ghetto and left plenty of empty apartments.
Some of the apartments were taken over by the Poles, who had to move out from the ghetto area.
The other ones - by those who used the opportunity to improve their living conditions.
My grandmother noticed someone had moved into the empty apartment next door because she heard noises from there.
After some time, she saw that it was a woman who rarely left this apartment.
And she heard from that apartment crying of a little child.
One day, returning
from work, she noticed the tumult in the street.
She asked someone what was going on.
She found out that they had caught a Jewish woman.
The next day she heard through the wall a baby crying but did not hear the woman.
The same happened the next day.
She did not see or hear anything, but she was working, so she was not at home from morning until late afternoon.
One more day passed, and the child's voice seemed to sound a lot weaker.
She decided to check what was going on behind the wall.
The front door was locked but could be unlocked with a simple key. In the apartment, she found a little boy.
Naked as God had created him and laying in his vomit and feces.
The baby didn't even react when she approached him, but she could see that he was still breathing.
She washed the boy, changed him, and gave him some liquid.
She didn't know what to do, so she put him back into the cleaned-up crib and went to her place.
The next day, before leaving for work, she knocked on the door and, not expecting an answer, went inside.
She gave the baby some milk and went to work.
In the evening, she came with milk and a slice of bread smeared with lard, which was accepted voraciously.
After a few days, the child recognized her and began to reach out to her with a happy smile.
After a week, she decided to move the baby to her flat.
Before that, she had searched the entire apartment.
All she found was an identity document in the name of Felicja Brodek.
For the next month, she watched if anyone would come for the baby, but no one showed up.
She doesn't even remember when she started treating him like her own.
Her motherly love developed so naturally that she never thought about it.
Just as it was natural for her to tell my grandfather, whom she met at the end of the same year, that her son's name was Anatol.
When they married, they issued Anatol papers with my grandfather's name as his father.
And it remained that way after the war.
Anatol had always been her beloved son, and it never occurred to her to tell him that he had another mother.
But now, the situation demands that the truth must be revealed.
Wait. I have to wipe my nose because it made me cry!
But let's continue.
After the story was told, everyone cried.
Uncle Tolek embraced my grandmother and said that she gave him life and that he had never imagined another mother than her.
He met his biological mother.
He told my mother, the pure reason dictated, that his natural mother had no influence on what had happened. But subconsciously, he held a grudge toward her anyway.
She must have felt it because, at first, she was euphoric, then turned somewhat sad.
Because Uncle Tolek, despite very cordial relations with his regained family, considered my grandmother as his only mother.
Of course, nothing
came out of the marriage with Mila, who turned out to be his half-sister.
Uncle Tolek and Aunt Mila still loved each other, but only like brother and sister.
Aunt Mila moved to Israel after March 68, and Uncle Tolek stayed in Poland until today.
And this is how I got a Jewish aunt!