The Children Accuse - The Testimony of Łazarz Krakowski [Excerpt]
In recent years, testimonies, diaries and memoirs of Holocaust victims have gained belated recognition as essential (not auxiliary) data for historical reconstruction. In spite of the sketchy nature of postwar children's testimonies, a critical analysis of this invaluable documentation provides a deeper understanding of the process of survival among Jewish children.
This early postwar testimony of Łazarz Krakowski, born on March 23, 1935, in Katowice, Silesia, sheds insight on the complex nature of survival during the Holocaust. It reveals anxieties, frustrations, and fears characteristic of a child who lived "under the surface" and "above the surface." A main challenge of living "under the surface" was the loss of childhood, of the freedom to play freely. For the children who lived "above the surface," the key daily challenge was to convincingly pass as Christian Polish children, to become "Aryan Jewish children" who perfected the act of mimicry. Łazarz's testimony reveals how dangerous and challenging it was to pass as a Christian child in an environment in which some Christian Polish neighbors fired off uncomfortable questions at the hidden Jewish children and their dedicated Christian Polish rescuers.
Hochberg-Mariańska, Maria and Noe Grüss, eds. The Children Accuse. Translated by Bill Johnston. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1996, 125–6.
Primary Source Text
6. ŁAZARZ KRAKOWSKI
Born 23 March 1935 in Katowice; son of Chil and Necha Blumstein
(Statement taken by Professor Chaimówna, Bedzin)
. . . When my mother was sent away to do forced labour, the next day my father handed me over to Włada as she had brought me up. After I left the ghetto, on 23 June 1943, until 10 November 1944, I stayed in the flat the whole time, mostly under the bed. When there were no visitors there I would walk around the room, but quietly so that no one would hear. During the day there was no one at home as they went out to work. Mr Liwer stayed hidden at the home. He was an elderly man. We read newspapers and books together, mostly religious ones because there were not any others there. I had enough to eat; father had left some money so there was enough for me. I did not work, except that from time to time I peeled the potatoes and stoked the stove. The days were terrible, sitting the whole time without moving in that stuffy room; the worst time was when I fell ill and needed a doctor. We went to Sosnowiec to see the doctor; I was terrified, and prayed that no one would recognize me. At the doctor's I pretended to be the lady's son. The doctor said I had worms, and wrote a prescription for me. Two weeks later we had another trip like that to the doctor's; that time too everything went smoothly. On 10 November 1944 I went to live with the uncle of a lady I knew in the village of Bonowice. The uprising in Warsaw had just finished and they could take me in as a child whose parents had died during the uprising. There I came back to life. I was free. I could go wherever I wanted , and I simply gulped the air. One day a lady came to uncle's who suspected that I was Jewish. She fired off lots of questions at me, which I was able to answer because, as I said, I knew my religion well; so she decided that I was not Jewish. Here I was liberated by the Russians. I stayed in the country till 1 May 1945. I went to school; I was popular there, and I was very happy.
(Archive of the CJHC, statement no. 629)
How to Cite This Source
"The Children Accuse - The Testimony of Łazarz Krakowski [Excerpt]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #114, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/114 (accessed April 29, 2016). Annotated by Joanna B. Michlic