Krystyna Nowak, born in 1931
My mother and I escaped from the ghetto
I, Krystyna Nowak, maiden name Marczak (former name Róża Aleksander), born on August 25, 1931, am the daughter of Saba, née Flaster, and Gabryel Aleksander. My parents were tailors. In 1936, my father died of typhus. In 1939, after the entry of the Nazis into Łódź, when racial discrimination against Jews began, we moved to Krośniewice near Kutno to stay with my mother’s parents, the Flasters, who lived at 10 Wolności Square with Mr. and Mrs. Bratkowski.
In April 1940, my mother, grandmother, and I, together with Aunt Helena Radzicka and her children, were forced to move to the ghetto which was located on the left side of Kutnowska Street, where the synagogue stood. However, my grandfather (my mother’s father) and my uncle (my aunt’s husband), were taken by the Germans and deported. They were never heard from again. In the ghetto, we lived in close quarters at the home of the Trauman family, and we were supported by what my mother earned as a seamstress.
On February 28, 1942, panic broke out in the ghetto. Rumors circulated about the approaching liquidation of the ghetto and the deportation of all Jews to the death camp in Chełmno on the River Ner. (This camp was established December 8, 1941. for the purpose of liquidating all Jews from the so-called Warta Territory. I am in touch with the regional museum in Konin which established a branch in Chełmno-on-Ner.)
Warta Territory – this area of Poland, including Poznań (Posen), Gdańsk (Danzig), and Łódź (Litzmannstadt), was incorporated directly into the Third Reich as a province called Wartheland.
On February 28, 1942, just before the police curfew, Mama and I escaped from the ghetto. After a dramatic search for a place to spend the night, we were taken in by Mrs. Dziwirska, a resident of the Apel house in the Market Square. The next day, on March 1, 1942, the liquidation of the Krośniewice Ghetto began. In the afternoon of the same day, we walked in a roundabout way to Łęczyca (about 14 kilometers). It was freezing cold then, and there was a lot of snow. From Łęczyca, we were taken to Tuszyn, near Łódź, by a woman smuggler. We then illegally crossed the “green border” into the territory of the “General Government“, to the ghetto in Piotrków which was not yet closed off.
In Piotrków, we lived in close quarters at 20 Piłsudski Street. There, Mama met people we knew from Łódź, the Pytowskis. At their home, she met Stanisław Januszewski from Warsaw, who had come for his daughter, Franka Pytowska. He tried to convince my mother to move to Warsaw and settle on the Aryan side. Mama and I did not look Jewish, and we spoke Polish well.
In October 1942, Mama bought a birth certificate in the name of Zofia Marczak, as well as a blank birth certificate for me, issued by the Ejszyszki Parish (Jęcza district, formerly “Jencze,” in the Wilno province), and we escaped to Warsaw. On the train, we met smugglers who helped us find a small corner in which to live in Warsaw, in Marymont, at 13 Warszawska Street at the home of Mrs. Morawska.
We pretended to be Polish women, and it seemed to us that nobody suspected that we were of Jewish descent. However, in May 1943, a blue-uniformed policeman arrived who had received a report about us. I was not home at the time. After a two-hour conversation, the policeman left and never came back. I should remark that my mother did not bribe him because we were too poor. We were supported by the handwork of my mother.
We stayed in this apartment until the Warsaw Uprising. We lived through it first in Marymont and then in the Mickiewicz Forts, in the Żoliborz district, until November 2, 1944. Together with the population of Warsaw, we were marched to Pruszków, to a transit camp. Then, we were transported in cattle cars to a little village called Odrowąż (Końskie district, Kielce province), where we lived with Mr. and Mrs. Woliński until the end of the war. There, we were also supported from the earnings of my mother as a seamstress. My mother is still living. She is eighty-seven years old. She lives together with me in Wrocław.