Testimony of Karolina Sapeta

When the Jews were concentrated in the ghetto, we separated. Every day I would go to the ghetto and bring what I could, because I missed the children very much. I felt like they were mine. When the situation in the ghetto got worse, the children would come to my place and stay with me until the situation stabilized. They felt at home with me.

In March 1943 the ghetto was liquidated. That day it happened that the youngest boy was with me. I went to the ghetto gate, which was surrounded, by SS and Ukrainians. People were running around like mad. Mothers with children stood near the gate helplessly. Suddenly I saw the mother with Sara and Ize. She saw me and whispered to the little girl 'go to Karolina'. Sara slipped between the Ukrainians like a little mouse and it was a miracle that they didn't see her. With her hands extended she ran to me. I was frozen with fear and went with my aunt and Sara to my village, Witanowice, near Wadowice. The mother and Ize were deported and were never seen again.

Life was hard and it was a miracle that the children were saved. At first the children would go out of the house, but when the situation got tense, I had to hide them inside. But it was useless. The locals knew that I was hiding Jewish children, and we received threats that the children should be delivered to the Gestapo, that the village would be burned down in reprisal, etc. The village head sided with me and this often gave me reassurance. I would pacify people who were more aggressive or pay them off.

However this did not last long. The SS kept searching and the villagers began to protest and one day came and told me that the children had to be removed. They intended to take the children to a barn and after they would fall asleep, cut their heads off with an ax.

I was crazy with worry. My old father was completely terrorized. What should I do? The poor children were aware of everything, and before going to sleep they begged: 'Karolina, don't kill us yet. Not today'. I felt numb and decided that I would not surrender the children whatever the price. I had a great idea. I put them on a cart and told everybody that I would take them and drown them. I went around the entire village and everybody believed me. When night came, I returned home with them….