Story of rescue

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"The Expression on the Face of One Particular Child Drew Attention" - the Story of the Kamiński Family

Anna entered the convent of the Ursuline sisters in Kraków. It was full of sick and undernourished children. "The expression on the face of one particular child drew attention - especially the sad eyes. She took her by the hand, and she hugged her tightly. I was that child", says Monika Goldwasser.

Anna and Maksymilian Kamiński lived in Skarżysko-Kamienna and were married during World War II. For Anna, it was her second marriage. With her first husband, she ran a pharmacy. Her second husband worked in a factory. Anna and Maksymilian had no children, even though they really wanted them.

In the autumn of 1942, Maksymilian went to the Ursuline convent at 9 Starowiślna Street in Kraków in search of a nun, a friend of his workmate. Many Polish, Jewish and Hungarian orphans lived in the convent - girls to the age of three. During the visit, the Mother Superior Sister Jadwiga Glemówna asked Kamiński to care for, at least, one child. Shortly after, he came back to the convent with his wife. They returned home with a little girl, Monika.

Monika had ended up in the Ursuline convent in 1942. She was only a few months old and very sick. The Kamiński couple knew that she was a Jewish child. She had with her a card bearing her parents' names. She was given a new name - Łucja.

Anna went into hiding with the child until the end of the war. She stayed in various hiding places, among them being a small basement with another Jewish woman. She also stayed in the home of a friend outside of Kraków.

"'You've grown into such a pretty girl' I heard from that friend many years later. She pointed to where my bed had stood. She recalled how my Polish mother had cared for me so well. She had obtained medicines and would bring the doctor at night. It was all so that I would survive".

After the War, the Kamiński couple moved to the "Reclaimed Terroitories" of Poland, where they began a new life. The provided a happy childhood for their adopted daughter, but kept the past a secret from her.

"Once, when I got into mischief, I heard mum say 'You bad Goldwasser!'. I said, 'Why are you calling me some sort of German?'", Monika recalls. "This was not accidental. She was preparing me to learn the truth".

When she found that card which she has with her in the convent, she began having doubts that she was actually the Kaminskis' child. That was the only clue to her Jewish identity. Just prior to her death, Anna decided to tell the truth. She had earlier asked close relatives for advice on what she should do.

"I was twenty two years old. She called me to her and said, 'Sit down, child. I have something to say.' She spoke and cried, I listened. I decided, then, that that would be my secret”.

Shortly after, Maksymilian also died and Łucja was alone again. For many years, she did not search for any information about her biological parents. She told no one about her secret, not even when she established her own family. The change happened in 1990. On television, she saw a woman who was looking for Monika Goldwasser, the daughter of Dr Adam and Salomea. "I thought, oh God, she's looking for me!”.

After meeting the sister of her biological mother, Monika began finding documents and reaching out to witnesses to this story. She first went to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

"For the first time, at the age of fifty, I saw a photograph of my biological mother. 'Look how similar you are to your mother, look!' When I heard that, I ran out into the corridor, It was very emotional".

Monika's biological parents were Adam and Salomea Goldwasser. Their only daughter came into the world in 1941 in Myślenice. Prior to the deportation of Jews to the ghetto in Skawina, the Goldwassers gave their daugher into the hands of a Polish family in a village outside the town. During the deportation, instead of her daughter, Salomea carried a doll. Together with her husband, she perished shortly afterwards in Skawina. A few months later, Monika ended up with the Ursuline sisters in Kraków.

"The past spoke to me", admits Monika.

In 2016, Anna and Maksymilian Kamiński were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. This honour was presented through the efforts of their adopted daughter Monika Goldwasser, whom they had saved from the Holocaust.

Bibliography

  • Szczepaniak Mateusz, 11.08.2016