When lockdown began in March 2020, I decided to take mum to her little hut in the forest. She calls the hut her ‘majątek’ or ‘treasure.’
Mum will be 96 this year. Or maybe 97 according to the Lodz ghetto records. During the war mum suffered greatly and lost her own mother at Auschwitz. At this terrible time she used to dream of escaping to a little hut in the forest. This is why she calls this hut her treasure.
Mum is very happy here and lacks nothing. She spends her day collecting twigs for the fire and doing her big project - sewing the words to her favourite song, 'Que Sera Sera, What Will Be Will Be' on her blanket.
My son Gil used to come up every weekend to bring supplies and help out outside. Around that time my friends, Julie and Magda, sent me a screenshot of a short film competition they had seen in the paper. They both encouraged me to take the challenge and apply. Because I was in isolation I finally had the time to think about the project and when Gil visited that weekend, we sat down and put this short film together.
A Memory from The War
(in mum’s words)
While in the Ghetto, we were often commanded to line-up for selection to Auschwitz - these selections were called ‘Spera’. During one such Spera, in autumn 1942, everyone tried to hide. The Germans were screaming that everyone should come down and form a queue. It was terrible – my mummy was so afraid that they would take me. My Aunty and her daughters went to hide in Uncle’s fields – not caring about us.
But after a few days my aunty returned and said If you feel like it, come to our little field. It was the first time they offered us kindness and I decided to swallow my pride. My mummy was so frightened, already she looked like a hunchback. I took her by the neck and I went with her to my Uncle’s field.
There was a shack there where he kept his garden tools. My Aunty and my cousins were sitting inside, and me and Uncle stood at both corners of the field watching out for German soldiers. Next to the fields there was a brick walled hospital where they gathered people for deportation. Suddenly we noticed, in great desperation, that the women and children inside the hospital had removed the bricks and made a hole in this wall, and they were running towards the fields. We were all in terrible danger. The Germans were shooting at the women and children while they were running across the field, grabbing potatoes and tomatoes to eat. Soon there was quiet, just bodies everywhere. My Uncle went over to the bodies and grabbed the tomatoes and the potatoes that the poor people had taken.
When it was twilight, we sat all together in the shack. My ‘generous’ uncle gave me two potatoes. Take them! And I prayed, just this time, My God, let us just finish these two potatoes, and let whatever must happen, happen to us. I couldn’t remember the last time when I had eaten a real potato. I couldn’t recall whether I could cook the potatoes or whether I had eaten them raw with my mother.
Till this day I have a great pleasure to eat a potato or a piece of bread, together with the realisation that I can always keep some for later. I especially feel this strongly when I am in my little hut Marysia’s Majantek (Marysia’s treasure hut) in the countryside.