“My closest friends date from this period, and they are my closest friends to this very day.”
(From the testimony of Antek Lemberg)
In Otwock, the child survivors encountered, many for the first time, children who had endured experiences similar to theirs. For some of the children who had been in hiding, these were the first children they met with whom they could interact, play and become friends. Others, who had survived the war living under an assumed identity, could finally open up and relate to others without having to worry about revealing their true identity. These children, who had grown so accustomed to remaining silent and detached in company, had to learn how to interact with others and how to open themselves up to their surroundings.
“We were very glad to live in the children’s home together with all of the other kids. They were in essence our first friends. The whole war we practically had no friends, or we weren’t able to play freely. And even if we were playing with some children, we were always fearfully aware that we have to hide something, that we cannot be open and forthcoming. Here, for the first time, were children with whom we could be friends.” (From the testimony of Wiktoria Blum)
The children were able to overcome the inherent difficulties and create lasting friendships that survived the tests of time and distance. For many of the children, the bonds of friendship formed in the home have lasted for more than half a century.
The warm and friendly atmosphere created within the children’s home was also thanks to the efforts of the educators and staff. The staff members, were truly dedicated to their task and developed lasting bonds with the children. A testament to the strong bonds forged between the staff and the children are the numerous letters and photographs that the children continued to send to the staff of the home throughout their lives. Considering the staff as family, the children would often send photographs of major events in their lives, informing them of weddings, births and the like. The friendships created within the home, between both the children and the staff and amongst the children themselves, remained long after the children had left the home and begun the next phase of their lives.