Your father was the first to reach Warsaw and see the burnt building, right?
He saw the burnt building and he saw the terrible rubble. The rubble was terrible. For sure he didn't make it to the Old Town, but he must have crossed the river (by the pontoon bridge), to find out what had happened to "Wedel". When he found out that production had restarted and they dream of him coming back as soon as possible - because he was a very settled in his profession - then he returned to us and had a meeting with mother. Everything without my participation, for the moment I was happy with childhood.
I think that we headed off in March. We lived right next to Ursus and then I reached Ochota with father. First I saw Ochota - I saw this damaged St. Jakub Church, traces which can still be seen; clearly visible, and of course the residence hall was still standing, because the German gendarmerie was there, so they didn't ruin it, but there were tons of ruins. And this burnt building where we lived -we had nowhere to return to.
Some friends of father's got a room on Tarczyńska street - it was a room with a kitchen, so this was a lot - and father arranged for us to stay in this kitchen.
First I saw Ochota - I saw the injured St. Jakub Church, which even today has visible traces of the war, and of course the residence hall, because the German gendarmerie was stationed there, so they didn't strike it; but there were ruins everywhere. And this burnt out home - there was nowhere to return to.
Some friends of father got a room on Tarczyńska Street - and a room with a kitchen, so it was very large - and father took care of things so we could stay there. I slept on a very large table with my sister in this kitchen, while my parents slept under the table and took care for us not to squirm around. But it was warm, because there was a ton of wood around everywhere, you just had to go outside and break it off somewhere and bring it back.
We lived there for a while and father started to ask around and he found out that there is a single empty room in an apartment on Sękocińska 11a, on the second floor. It was a home built right before the war on a tiny parcel, but rather tall for a building at that time, because it had five floors (though similar to six or seven floors now), without a lift. We were to live there in this beautiful twenty-five square meter room, and a family occupied the adjacent room, smaller, - anyway they did the right thing - a mother with three adult sons, all of them worked. They occupied the small room, since they knew that when the owner shows up they would have to give it up. So from there I attended school regularly on Niemcewicza 9 Street, because Ms. Goldman operated this school in her private apartment.
In the middle of 1945 the owners showed up. And my parents assumed that since our home was burnt down, this is no reason for them to be homeless. And they reached an agreement. Those people had some money, because they didn't live through the Rising in Warsaw; they illegally gave some compensation (likely some con schemes always existed) for an attic space, like for students. There were two stairwells in these homes and there were attics, spaces for a kitchen. The room had maybe 19 square meters. By Christmas, 1945 we spent in this space.
Obviously, there was a whole number of other twists and turns, because the entire time we were searching for my brother. I participated in these exhumations, at least four of them - next to the St. Jakub Church, at Narutowicza Square, Zawiszy Square and in areas adjacent to Narutowicza Square on one of the side streets. We were looking for his remains - that was the first matter.
And your father took you to this exhumation?
He did. For the reason that mother was kind of vacant. Throughout her life, though she lived to be 89, she never accepted that news that...
that her son was killed.
He was 19 years old...
However, I saw him last - mother and I, before the Rising. I saw him last and I saw how he was dressed. Father wanted to identify him from stitches left after an operation, because my brother had an hernia operation (groin hernia, all my mother's children had this same problem, me as well). I insisted strongly, but I believe that father proceeded very unwisely, because later I lived terribly - it was like a completely lost childhood, I suddenly became tremendously adult. And this was a horrible experience.
Of course we never found him. And grandmother wasn't around, we didn't know what happened to her. Only later we found out that she ended up in Ravensbrück and was taken to Sweden. I have the documents here. She returned at the end of 1946, because I still have a Swedish card with the date, that in 1946 she is in Sweden; she was in Malmö and Göteborg.
Studies began. The living conditions were terribly crowded. For a long time. Really I only started to stand on my own two feet when I got married, then I received relatively good conditions. Now I can say maybe too good. I'm the only one left, but likely I deserved this, because in such a crowd where I used to live ... At this time I'm alone, surely the place will have to be turned over to one of the heirs, but that's another story.