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Oral history interview with Helena Merenholc

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1280.6 | RG Number: RG-50.225.0006

Helene Merenholc, born on March 15, 1911 and a lifelong resident of Warsaw, Poland, discusses her life in a well-educated, Jewish family; her parents’ occupations and attending school; her five gifted siblings, who pursued higher education and excelled either in music or science; most of her family dying during the war; studying and completing a psychology degree before the World War II; working as a counselor with the special needs children; problems related to the closing of centers for children with special needs due to the outbreak of the war; Centos, which was an organization that provided care for these children in the ghetto; being employed as a social worker in the ghetto; various forms of aid, such as soup kitchens and learning centers or theatre clubs, which were provided to the orphaned, handicapped, or mentally challenged children; the JOINT providing financial support to these endeavors; her acquaintance with the internationally renowned doctor, Janusz Korczak (Henryk Goldszmit), who later established orphanages in the ghetto and was then deported with his pupils to Treblinka; Adam Czerniaków, the Judenrat leader, who in her opinion was a brave and tragic figure; life in the ghetto, including the sickness, hunger, and the living conditions; finding employment in the ghetto brush shop (“szop szczotkarzy”); being passed over during random selections for deportations; her acquaintance with communist sympathizers, Mordechaj Anielewicz, Marek Edelman, and the historian Emanuel Ringeblum; Jews considering escape from the ghetto a betrayal of their own people and heritage; leaving the ghetto to engage in underground activity on the Aryan side; her work for Żegota (the Council to Aid Jews) alongside Antek (real name: Icchak Cukierman); her underground work related to saving the ghetto survivors and her encounters with “szmalcownicy” (mercenary collaborators); the Polish reaction to the ghetto uprising; her deportation to the camp in Pruszków; her work in Poland after the war; how because of her haunting wartime memories, she devoted herself to work in the Centralny Komitet Żydowski (a Polish organization involved in providing aid to the Holocaust survivors); and working later for the radio and the theatre.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Helena Merenholc
interview:  1994 July
4 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:48:46
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