Pragnelam zyc. Pamietnik (I Wanted to Live. A Diary)

  • Halina
  • Aszkenazy-Engelhard
  • Warszawa
  • 1991
  • personal accounts
  • yes
  • no
  • Polish
  • Brought up by her mother (a widow). Did not have a typical Semitic appearance. In pre-war Warsaw she earned money by taking children for a walk. In the ghetto she and her mother both earned their living thanks to a telephone, which, by accident, was working. What is more, it was a business telephone, so they did not have to pay any bills. Cardsharps used it a lot. After a round-up in Ogrodowa Street Halina and her mother stay in hiding for three months in a German factory, where Halina's uncle worked and where he managed to find them employment. At that time Halina obtains food by selling clothes and pieces of furniture looted from abandoned flats of the ghetto. She almost died while doing that. When the factory becomes the metal department of the brushmakers' shop, Halina nad her mother move into a special house for workers at Franciszkanska Street No. 20. Together with her mother and cousin Celina she works extra hours at night in another company's kitchen so that they would not die of hunger. She survives the Uprising, hides from the Germans. Two weeks after the outbreak of the Uprising she was at the Umschlagplatz with all other residents of the small annexe in Franciszkanska Street. They go to the Majdanek camp in a cattle truck. She escapes from the train through its window with Halina A. and a group of young people. She manages to survive and get to Warsaw - she is the only one among her girlfriends to be so lucky. She gets help from priest Kubacki in Warsaw. One by one her ex-neighbours help her. Then she get help from her acquaintance. She hides in a lodging house for homeless, then in the Szarytki Nuns convent. In the convent she is cold, overloaded with work and unhappy. In hiding in some rich people's house, where priest Stanek directed her and where she works very hard as a maid. When the rich people found out that she was Jewish, the lady of the house badged her with her anti-Antisemitism. Mr. G. wants her to become his lover. When she refuses he starts harassing her as well. After having left the G. family, she easily gets a job as a qualified maid. Since July 1944 she lives with Henia and Tadeusz's family - Henia and Tadeusz were her ex-neighbours. She works there as a housekeeper. On the third day of the Warsaw Uprising she joins a unit of the Home Army. She is a messenger. After the fiasco of the Uprising she is in the camp in Pruszkow, from where she was deported to Germany. She works in the Schwarzkopf factory in Berlin. At first lives in the Wilhelmshagen camp and then in the Schoeneweide camp. In the latter Polish siblings (Krysia and Jurek) recognize her. Her girlfriends protect her. She suffers from a deep depression: her life depends on indiscretion of unsympathetic people. However, Halina, Iza and Basia turned out to be good sisters and the siblings do not say anything. Halina finds more and more dear people. Learns Italian from Italian prisoners. At the end of January 1945 together with her girlfriends she gives hiding for two days to a Polish officer. The officer escaped from the Bergen-Belsen camp and was sent by Halszka. In February 1945 she goes on strike: she refuses to work, because she does not have shoes. The wife of Knoess, who was a Gestapo member, gives her her own shoes. After the liberation of the camp on 26 April 1945 Halina goes to Warsaw on foot with her girlfriends. Manages to get there in mid-May 1945. On the third anniversary of her mother's death she finds out about her last days from her girlfriends from the ghetto, whom she met by accident. She undergoes a profound crisis. Meets Stasia, Halszka and Jurek, and thanks to this she moves to Lodz: gets a flat and job. Takes up studies. In Stasia's house she finds her second home. Due to a serious illness she quits her studies. After recovery, she dreams that the state of Israel will be established.