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

Wiktoria Blum

Wiktoria Blum (Aviva Blum Wachs) was born in 1932 in Warsaw. Her father Avraham (Abrasza) was highly active in the Bund* in Warsaw and the surrounding areas. Her mother Luba was a trained nurse and a graduate of the Jewish Nursing School in Warsaw as well as being active in the Bund. With the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto, Wiktoria and her family were incarcerated in the ghetto. In the beginning of 1943 Wiktoria was smuggled by her mother out of the ghetto to the Polish side of the city, where different Polish families hid her.

Wiktoria’s father participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and managed to escape from the ghetto, but he was later caught and murdered by the Germans. After learning of her husband’s murder, Luba dressed like a Polish officer’s widow and took Wiktoria out from hiding. The two traveled to the countryside, where Luba sought work as a nanny. Because of their cover story and their proficiency in the Polish language their Jewish origins were not revealed. In the summer of 1943 Wiktoria even began to study with other children by a teacher in a neighboring village. She would attend church and perform Catholic rituals.

In 1944 their landlord and his wife were murdered, and Aviva and Luba fled back to Warsaw. They went to live in the neighboring town of Radosc, where the Soviet army liberated them in the fall of 1944. After liberation, they were reunited with Alexander, Wiktoria’s brother, who had been hidden by a Polish family. Luba contacted the Central Committee for the Jews of Poland (CKZP) and in the spring of 1945 became the director of the children’s home in Otwock. Wiktoria and Alexander lived in the home.

After a few years in the home Wiktoria began to participate in the underground Zionist movement in the home, without her mother’s knowledge or approval. She also attended the local Polish school, where she encountered antisemitism and hatred.

Wiktoria left the children’s home in 1948 and went to school in Warsaw. In Warsaw she also was a counselor in the Shomer Hatzair Youth Movement.

Wiktoria immigrated to Israel in January 1950.

* Bund - a Jewish Socialist party that was totally opposed to Zionism and to Hebrew culture and language, regarding Yiddish as the national language of the Jews of eastern Europe.

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