A Reentry into Life
“For each of us a stay in the Children's Home was like a new beginning – a reentry into life.”
“It is pretty difficult to imagine and convey the feeling the inhabitants of the children's home in Otwock might have had when they were told that they would no longer be homeless and when they saw the clean white building – the home of their dreams. To understand how such a child might have felt at that moment, one would have had to accompany him throughout the years of [Nazi German] occupation. One would have had to experience being treated as an object of abuse (popychadło) by anyone. One would have had to listen to shocking and terrifying words, words spoken out of “charity” by those at whose home a child was hidden. One would have had to listen in silence without disagreement to nasty comments and lies about the most dear and precious things in life, because one was a Jew. One would have had to sleep in open spaces without shelter, to wander around without having any personal possessions, and to rely on strangers’ charity. . . At the time when a Jewish child had to rely on the charity of strangers, his thoughts were somewhere else: the child lived by his/her memories. He constantly thought about his home where he did not have to be ashamed of his/her face [semitic features] and where no one suggested to him/her that he/she was so unlucky because he/she was born Jewish.
Could one expect that these children be “regular good kinds?” Their wartime past worked against this. One would have to work very hard to “recreate” children out of them again. For each of us a stay in the Children' s Home was like a new beginning – a reentry into life.”
Excerpt from “Dom naszych marzeń” (“Home of Our Dreams”), a presentation by Ewa Goldberg at the Congress of Correspondents of the Children’s Gazette (Międzyzakładowa Gazetka) in January 1947, Yad Vashem Archives O.37/378, vol. 5 (scattered materials). The translation is taken from an upcoming article to be published in June in Yad Vashem Studies 37 (1), by Joanna Beata Michlic, titled “'The Raw Memory of War', Early Postwar Testimonies of Children in Dom Dziecka in Otwock".