I had a festering wound on my leg. I was considering whether I should continue working in the camp, fall down out of exhaustion and let them finish me off, or whether I should go to hospital, possibly a place of no return. I chose the hospital. The room attendant who was admitting me turned out to be Polish. – And you, where are you from? – He asks me. – From Warsaw. – And more precisely? – From Praga. – Do you know the intersection of Ząbkowska and Targowa? – I do. – There used to be a cake shop there. – I know. My parents would send me there to buy pastries. – It used to be my parent’s cake shop – he rejoiced.
Thanks to him I got a separate bunk close to the furnace and some clothes. He told the doctors to take care of me. The wound was healing slowly, but it was so painful that I couldn’t sleep at night. The room attendant would sit at night by the furnace, a few feet away from my bunk. He had a pickaxe handle and when he saw a prisoner creeping towards the restrooms, he would approach him and hit him in the head. He perfected the blow to such an extent that the prisoner would drop dead on the spot. The body was removed by his helpmates, and if the stunned was still alive, they would hang him by a belt on a doorknob. I saw everything, but I would pretend I was asleep; I would even snore. I don’t know what he would have done with me if he had known I was watching him. As soon as the wound began to scar up, I told him I wanted to leave the hospital. He was surprised. „You don’t like it here?! You have food and clothes, nothing threatens you here!” But I wanted to leave that place. I came up with some legitimate excuse and they let me out.
In 1946, in Praga, right by the National Stadium and the harbor’s inlet, there used to be a recreation center. There was no sports equipment so people would bring their own – a discus, a bow, arrows, a ball, a net, someone even brought boxing gloves. I liked volleyball and one day I joined other people playing. The ball belonged to everyone and once one group finished playing, another would step in. I assume my position and then I see him, the room attendant, on the other side of the pitch. I was speechless. I stared at him for a few minutes, our eyes met. I didn’t know what to do! I stepped aside. I was in two minds about what to do: „Should I denounce him because he committed acts of genocide or should I be grateful because he saved my life? Maybe it wasn’t him? Let me go back and take another look.” When I returned to the pitch, he was no longer there. I was looking for him for many months, but I couldn’t find him. But the dilemma remained until today – what should I have done? I asked this question during a meeting with young people at Auschwitz and no one could give me an answer; the older audience couldn’t either. And I ask you now, what should I have done?
- But you did do something.
- It is a deceptive and insufficient response.
- You didn’t do anything in particular, but it still means doing something.
- But what should I have done?! What exactly? Let the authorities know that I had met a murderer? Should I have thanked him for saving my life?
- Are you still convinced it was him?
- Yes, I am. Though I wish I weren’t, that way I wouldn’t have to make a decision. This dilemma is still inside me, it keeps bothering me. I am unable to decide by myself and that’s why I keep asking others, but no one seems to have an answer. And I still don’t know.