Helen Sendyk (born Helcia Stapler) is the daughter of Symche and Sara Miriam (nee Laufer) Stapler. She was born on April 1, 1928 in Chrzanow Poland where her father, a devout Belzer Chassid, owned a grocery store and a candy and toy store. She had four older brothers Shlamek, Heshek, Vrumek and Sholek and three older sisters, Nachcia, Blimcia (who was married to Jacob Rauchwerger) and Goldzia. Helcia attended both a public school and a Beit Yaakov afternoon religious school. At the start of the war Helcia, her father Symche, Heshek, Vrumek, Blimcia, Jacob and Nachcia fled on foot to Krakow to stay at the home of Jacob's sister. Shlamek was serving as an officer in the Polish army, and Sara Miriam remained at home with Goldzia, who having been crippled with childhood polio, could not travel. After the Germans entered Krakow, most of the family returned home, except for Heshek and Vrumek who decided to flee east to Lvov. During the next few weeks, Symche was forced to shave his beard and the family had to vacate their spacious apartment and move in with Blimcia. Furthermore, Shlamek was killed in action. Afterwards conditions continued to deteriorate with the creation of a ghetto in Chrzanow, even as the family celebrated the birth of Blimcia's son on March 17, 1940. Sholek and Nachcia were temporarily sent away to perform forced labor in Katowice and Gabersdorf. Since other schooling was prohibited, Helcia became an apprentice milliner. This later qualified her to work in special workshops and factories in the ghetto even though she was only thirteen years old. Meanwhile, the family learned that Soviet police had rounded up Heshek and Vrumek in Lvov for deportation to Siberia. Vrumek, unwilling to submit, jumped from the train and made his way home to Chrzanow. Heshek stayed on the train and was taken to a labor camp near Omsk. By coincidence he met his former girlfriend there. They married in the labor camp, but Heshek tragically succumbed to illness shortly thereafter on June 2, 1942. During the summer of 1942, the Germans conducted an Aktion in Chrzanow. Helcia, Blimcia, Jacob and Vrumek were temporarily spared, but Goldzia and their parents were deported and later killed. On February 18, 1943 the Germans conducted a final deportation Aktion in Chrzanow. Helcia and the rest of the remaining family were rounded-up, except for Vrumek and Sholek who evaded capture. Sholek was later discovered and shot at close range Vrumek, together with another Jew from Chrzanow, managed to escape; he fled to Czechoslovakia and from there to Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Lebanon and eventually reached Palestine. During the February 1943 deportation, Nachcia and Helcia were sent to a transit camp in Sosnowiec. The two sisters remained together during two years of incarceration in the Faulbruck, Reichenbach, Niederschlasien, and Langenbielau concentration camps. They were liberated on May 8, 1945 by the Russian army. Helcia was 17 years old. After the war, they returned to Chrzanow and found their brother-in-law Jacob. Jacob survived Gross Rosen and a death march to Buchenwald but became totally despondent after learning of the deaths of Blimcia and his infant son. He died a few weeks after liberation, having refused all medication and food. Helcia and Nachcia remained in Poland for a few months before making their way to Italy by way of Czechoslovakia and Austria. In January 1946 they arrived in Grottaferatta at the Villa Cavaletti. They were among the 1014 Jewish DPs who participated in a hunger strike in the La Spezia harbor protesting British immigration policy to Palestine after the British tried to block the departure of their ship. The British eventually gave in, and in May 1946, Helcia and Nachcia were allowed to board the Dov Hos and come to Palestine. After they arrived in Palestine, they reunited with their one surviving brother Vrumek. Helcia settled in the Ayanot agricultural school for girls in Nes Tziona. She married Abraham Sendyk from Alexandrow, Poland in 1954.