Dealing with the Past
“Otwock was a very important stop, one that restored us to a more or less normal sense of life.”
(From the testimony of Janek Młotek)
In Otwock the children began the long and difficult process of healing and rehabilitation. Concerted efforts were made by the staff of the home to encourage the children to begin to confront their experiences. “All of the teachers in essence did the work of psychologists. Firstly, each child had to tell his story, meaning they tried to cull from the child what they had experienced. They recorded these memories; the children themselves wrote them down.” (From the testimony of Wiktoria Blum) As many of the children related years later, the recounting of their experiences to the staff in Otwock served as a way for them to confront what they had gone through and begin the long process of healing.
The staff tried to integrate the children into an well-ordered lifestyle and a daily schedule filled with normal, everyday activities. The recreational and creative activities helped to establish a sense of order and joy within many of the children’s lives, aspects of their childhood from which they had been deprived during the Holocaust. Many of the children from Otwock later reflected upon the atmosphere of activity and work in the home, and described how much it helped them to begin to deal with their painful pasts. The involvement with the children also helped the staff of the home deal with their own experiences and losses during the Holocaust.