Mother and Me: Escape from Warsaw 1939

Mother and Me: Escape from Warsaw 1939

Julian Padowicz

Language: English

Pages: 411

ISBN: 0897335708

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"In 1939," Julian Padowicz says, "I was a Polish Jew-hater. Under different circumstances my story might have been one of denouncing Jews to the Gestapo. As it happened, I was a Jew myself, and I was seven years old."
     Julian's mother was a Warsaw socialite who had no interest in child-rearing. She turned her son over completely to his governess, a good Catholic, named Kiki, whom he loved with all his heart. Kiki was deeply worried about Julian's immortal soul, explaining that he could go to Heaven only if he became a Catholic.
     When bombs began to fall on Warsaw, Julian's world crumbled. His beloved Kiki returned to her family in Lodz; Julian's stepfather joined the Polish army, and the grief-stricken boy was left with the mother whom he hardly knew.
     Resourceful and determinded, his mother did whatever was necessary to provide for herself and her son: she brazenly cut into food lines and befriended Russian officers to get extra rations of food and fuel. But brought up by Kiki to distrust all things Jewish, Julian considered his mother's behavior un-Christian.
     In the winter of 1940, as conditions worsened, Julian and his mother made a dramatic escape to Hungary on foot through the Carpathian mountains and Julian came to believe that even Jews could go to Heaven.


















door shut quickly. Mother laughed. I noticed that Mr. Koppleman had made no effort to speak like a peasant. “You have to be firm with them,” Mr. Koppleman said, very seriously. I wondered whom he meant by them, since the other man didn’t look like a Russian. Mr. Koppleman was now pacing back and forth in the little space of our compartment. “The first thing I’m going to do,” he said, “is have a long hot bath in the privacy of my own bathroom, then I’ll find the best English tailor in Budapest

to move at around midday, two Russian soldiers joined our group. They sat down across from us, their rifles between their knees. “What part of the Soviet Union are you from, Comrades?” Mother asked as soon as the train was moving. I held Meesh up so he could look out of the window at the passing panorama. In our silent language, I explained that the fields and houses weren’t really moving, but just seemed to be, because we were. Meesh wanted to know where we were going, and I told him without

prepare to enter another reality. I gripped Mother’s hand as I had Kiki’s. I knew that her other hand was holding Mr. Koppleman’s arm. I looked in both directions along the street for the sleigh that would take us to our hotel. “Let’s go—I’m freezing,” Mother said. I could hear a bit of her little-girl whine coming into Mother’s tone. “I’ll go with you till you’re inside,” Mr. Koppleman said, as we stepped down into the street. The idea of entering one of these houses made me apprehensive. I

the lamb stew and would have filled up on the delicious bread and cheese, but Mother made me eat some. “Who knows when we’ll have meat again,” Auntie Paula said. Miss Bronia tried to coax some stew into Fredek, but he made a terrible face after his first sip. “It is pretty bad,” Miss Bronia said to Auntie Paula, and they agreed to let him abstain. “The people are saying that the farmers are all selling their meat on the black market,” Auntie Paula said. Putting two and two together, I reasoned

rinse it, filled it with tea. In the meanwhile, I placed the sugar cube between my teeth as I had seen others do and picked my glass up off the floor with both hands. I brought the glass carefully up to my lips, but it grew too hot, and I had to put it down again. Seeing my problem, the lieutenant handed me a cloth to wrap around the glass. I noticed that he had no trouble holding his glass in one hand. With the help of a cloth, I got the glass up to my lips, but the sugar cube was in the way.

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