Aleksandra Kaniuka née Rozengarten, born in 1937
Almost nobody knows about my experiences
I was born in Warsaw. We lived at 4 Nowogrodzka Street. My father, Stanisław Rozengarten, worked as the chief accountant in an insurance company. My mother, Irena, operated with her father, Henryk, a shop on Leszno Street manufacturing tapes and ribbons.
Upon the outbreak of the war in September 1939, Father was called up to the army. (From that time on, we knew nothing about him until the fall of 1944 when we learned that he had been in the territories of the USSR in various camps and had miraculously survived.)
Mother and I, on the other hand, remained in Warsaw. When the German authorities issued an order to create a ghetto and declared that all Jews should live in it, we moved there, to Leszno Street. My grandfather, Ludwik Rozengarten, who later died of typhus, lived together with us. Almost the entire family of my mother also found themselves in the ghetto. After managing to leave the ghetto for the Aryan side (we were smuggled out), we lived in various locations in Warsaw in the homes of various people. I remember that we frequently changed the location where we stayed. Indeed, several times we had to flee from the apartment we occupied. This is what happened in the case of our stay at 15 Targowa Street in Wawer and in the Michalin district.
For a while, I was hidden in the country in Radziwiłłów with Mr. and Mrs. Słomek. I was there with Mrs. Jadwiga Plaskota, who was paid to take care of me. From that period, I remember how my guardian used to kick me out of the house into the forest, ordering me to wait until she came for me because friends were coming to see her. Very frequently, for any reason whatsoever, she would beat me, shouting at me that I was a Jew and that she would go away and leave me.
Mother visited me once a week. Because of this guardian, mother had to take me back. I remember the moment when we were driving in an open horse-drawn wagon with wet laundry through the woods to Studzieniec in the Mariański Primeval Forest. It was a chilly November (I don’t remember the year).
Next, I was placed in an orphanage in Śródborów. This orphanage was operated by nuns. I remember my stay in Śródborów as being very sad. After leaving the orphanage, I was from then on with my mother. We continued to hide. Among other places, we lived at 42 Grójecka Street and on Stępińska Street with Mrs. Helena Wojdowa.
We survived the Warsaw Uprising in Miedzeszyn. There, too, my mother quite frequently had to hide me in the basement, fearing people. Unfortunately, my looks did not indicate Slavic descent.
From this period, I recall visits of Soviet soldiers. After they left, my mother’s watch, wedding band, and ring disappeared. I also remember kind gestures by the Soviet soldiers. It was they who cured me of scabies.
This meager amount of details from this nightmarish era is the result of the fact that as a child, little remained in my memory, and my mother never wanted to revisit it.
I do not watch films on the subject of the Nazi occupation, films about the ghetto, or about the Holocaust of the Jewish people. In general, I avoid anything that bears the characteristic of brutality and violence.
Almost nobody knows about my experiences as a Jewish child. I avoid conversations on this subject, and I do not admit to it. I do not suppose that details of my life story are so interesting that they should be published, or am I perhaps wrong?