Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2020 – The Story of Krystyna Linden

Krystyna Linden was born on September 9, 1942, in the Warsaw ghetto. Her parents smuggled her out of the closed ghetto when she was a baby, and later attempted an escape but were murdered by the Gestapo. Her family members were sent to extermination camps and most of them perished. This is a summary of her testimony:

“In July 1942, about two months before I was born, on the eve of Tisha B’Av, the Germans began the Great Deportation (Grossaktion) from the Warsaw ghetto. Many times the Nazis would take their actions on Jewish holidays, both to surprise the Jews, who were caught unprepared, and to interrupt and degrade Jewish holidays. During the deportation action, three days before I was born, on September 6, 1942, ghetto prisoners were forced to gather at the Zamenhof Square and Ganesha Street. During the selection, my mother Ruth held a raincoat on her pregnant belly and managed to mask her pregnancy. My mother hid her pregnancy because of the brutality of the Nazis, had they identified her pregnancy, I would not be here today.

My parents Leon and Ruth, nicknamed Lutek and Ruthke, had a small room in the Schultze workshop complex. On September 9, 1942, I was born in the same room. My mother gave me the name Krystyna Krishia. Jews in the workshop bribed the German guards to allow my parents to keep me. As a baby, I was wrapped in newspapers, and a close Polish friend, Mary Gasinska, smuggled me inside a wicker basket to the Arian side. I was taken to Zolwin, a village near Warsaw. A Polish woman, Mrs. Michalina Janiszewska, agreed to take me in. Mrs. Janiszewska received money to take care of me and did so for almost 5 years.

My parents were murdered by the Nazis, and the rest of my family were gassed to death. My father’s sister Sarah and her husband Bernard survived, and after the war they came to visit me at Mrs. Janiszewska. For two years they unsuccessfully searched for their son. Eventually they came back for me and started an adoption process. I stayed with the Polish family until 1947 when I was five years old. According to Mrs. Janiszewska’s testimony given after the war, my mother gave me my name. All my life I felt that I shouldn’t change the name Krystyna even though it had a foreign sound. As I read Mrs. Janiszewska’s testimony, I realized that my intuition was true. In her testimony, she also said that my parents wanted to save me because they feared they would not survive the war. That my mother was crying and it was hard for her to hand me over. That my mother asked her to keep me safe and she promised to do so. And as she rode the train with me, she kept hearing my mother’s crying in her ears.

Sarah and Bernard adopted me, but didn’t tell me I was adopted or that they had a son. They did not talk about the Holocaust, nor did they mention the extinction and humiliation of the Jews. It was only when I was 12, in 1954, that I happened to be exposed to various family papers and discovered that I was adopted. In 1962 I made Aliyah to Israel. My adoptive parents joined afterwards. I got married in Israel and gave birth to two daughters, Ruth and Yael.”

Smuggled out of Warsaw Ghetto, child spent five years with Catholic ‘mom’