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Yad Vashem "A Time to Heal" (Ecclesiastes 3:3) - The Story of the Children's Home in Otwock, Poland
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The Children’s Home in Otwock, Poland

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Immediately after liberation in January 1945, Holocaust survivor Franciszka Oliwa arrived in Otwock to search for relatives. Though her search proved to be unsuccessful, she did happen upon a group of starving children wearing rags accompanied by a Soviet soldier. The soldier told her that these were abandoned Jewish children and asked her to take care of them. When she responded that she didn’t even have a home for herself, the soldier led her to an abandoned apartment at 11 Bolesława Prusa Street, whose windows were blown out and which didn’t have furniture, heating, or running water. She was given responsibility for more than ten Jewish orphans. Oliwa turned to Colonel Dr. Ovochovski, a commander of a nearby Soviet field hospital, for help. He was moved by the children’s situation and agreed to help, providing paper mattresses and blankets from the field hospital’s supplies. He helped fix the windows of the apartment and offered aprons from the hospital as clothing for the children.

In March the Central Committee of Jews in Poland (CKZP) officially took control of the children’s home in Otwock, converting the home to a unit within the framework of the committee and beginning to support the home and improve its living conditions. The Central Committee appointed Luba Bielicka Blum as director of the children’s home.

By June 1945 approximately 130 child survivors were living in the home. Most of the educators and staff were also Holocaust survivors, who saw in their work a sense of mission and destiny, an answer to the loss they had experienced in the Holocaust.

The Joint Distribution Committee financially supported the children’s home. After 1947 their financial support was reduced. At the end of 1949 there were only 52 children remaining in the home and it was officially closed.