My name is Naomi Kalsky.
I was 10 years old when the war started. I had a small family. I was the eldest daughter. I had a sister two years younger, and a baby brother who was born during the Russian occupation. Everyone was happy we had a son who'd say Kaddish. He was the apple of our eye. I loved my brother Emanuel, I chose this name for him. I used to take him out and I treasured him. My father had a bakery and during the war the Russians confiscated it but we kept some flour sack s for a rainy day.
Then everything changed. Strange decrees appeared on walls and billboards. And again after a few days: "Each family must contribute a worker to the war effort." My father went to work and didn't come back at night. He returned after two weeks but he was no the same person any more. So my mother decided she would go because the family had to show someone was working. My sister and I, carrying the baby, went in the afternoon to see the columns of workers who had left in the morning for work. We saw mother's flower kerchief coming near, because we were small and couldn't see the faces but it was another woman. So we stared again until no more people returned to the quarter but mother didn't come. We started crying. It was getting dark, but we waited. The last people told us:
"Kids, don't stand here, it's dangerous!"
"We are waiting for mama."
"Never mind, go home, your mother will find her way."
We went home. Father did not even ask what happened. We went to bed, our first night without mama. My father was really ill, he never talks to us. The night he died he kept shouting: "Bread!" The neighbor told us: "You are now orphans. But orphans are strong people. Stay alive because this war will come to an end one day."
The next day we brought Emanuel to the hospital. The following day we came to visit him with some soup we got at a soup kitchen, and all the beds were empty there was no one we could ask what happened to the sick children. Would put on the only good dress in had left and go to work in a large apartment which used to belong to Jews. After work I'd get a bowl of soup and a slice of bread for my sister. One day, when I came back wit the bread and soup that my sister waited all day long for she didn't come out to meet me as usual. I went into the house through the window because we had lost our key and didn't find her home. I went to ask the neighbors whether they had seen Rouja, Vered (Rose) in Hebrew, and they told me there had been an Action and all the quarter's children were taken away.
I couldn't work anymore because high wooden fences walled the quarter in. And they named it Ghetto. Every day, Jews started coming in from the city's rich quarters, with all their belongings in one cart only. To my apartment came the Weinberg family. He used to be a rich merchant, with his wife and adolescent son and a 20-year-old daughter. I was happy not to be alone in the apartment. As rent they gave me one meal a day, and that was beyond my wildest dreams. One assured meal a day. But one day I wandered away from the house and by the time I returned the Weinbergs had vanished. The last night I spent with the Weinbergs, Eli gave me a Polish birth certificate and said: "Tonight there will be and Action and no child will be left in the Ghetto. Run away." I took the certificate, memorized it, crept under the Ghetto fence, and once outside I was seized by a pair of hands, and a voice said: "Jew, give us money or we'll turn you in." I knew they'd turn me in even if I paid them because Jews were worth 2 kgs. of sugar per capita so on a wild impulse I bit savagely on hand, and the other hand too, and left me with a scream, and I broke into a run toward the railway rampart opposite the Ghetto. There was a hooting train as close as this studio wall but I crossed the rails and ran like mad into an avenue with hedges until that ended, too, and I was sure, they would follow me, but they didn't.