It happened suddenly. She went to Wilno to get some warm clothing. She met her father, who said, "You have to take two ladies from here, from the Altberg house". She took them, just as the Germans were rounding up the Wilno Jews to be placed into the ghetto.
“I didn’t feel I was in any danger”, she says.
She asked the cart driver, who took her to Wilno if he would take “her mom’s guests”, too. Of course, he would. He had worked it out. “Their eyes are so dark”, he told her.
“We were driving for three days, because the horse could only cover some 40 kilometers per day, and Rohaczowszczyzna was 120 km from Wilno. Quite often the cart driver and I would walk alongside the cart, with only the two old 50-something ladies sitting in the cart.
"The carter was great! His name was Adolf Danilewicz, he was a lessee of ours. When we were halfway, in Ejszyszki, he walked up to me and said, ‘Miss, them folks are sayin’ them’s makin’ a ghetto in Ejszyszki. What do you want we should do?’ I said, ‘Adolek, maybe we should go around through the forest’. And that is what we did”.
Rohaczowszczyzna was a small village, never visited by people from outside the family. But food was scarce. They bought a cow and a pig, and the lessees gave them potatoes and grain for bread. And later they would make moonshine for sale. Once, the Germans caught her for it.
"I was beaten many times for it - the prisoner in the next cell counted how many. My backside was beaten to a pulp.
"I survived because my family bribed me out. The Germans didn't know that we had Jewish women at home."
After the War, Emma Altberg became a piano and harpsichord professor at the Łódź Academy of Music. Maria Arnold obtained her doctorate and worked at the General Chemistry Institute Library in Warsaw.