When the ghetto was finally closed [off], there was fear and terror and death on the streets. I didn’t want to be a Jew. I was trying to escape all that happened, since I had entered the ghetto and in my later years. That’s because being a Jew meant only misfortune for me. Being a Jew was a misfortune - said Agata Bołdok in conversation with Magda Łucyan, a reporter from "Fakty" TVN and the author the series of conversations with Warsaw Ghetto survivors: "The Ghetto".
Agata Bołdok was taken to to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940 when she was seven years old, together with her parents and sister. She spent 2.5 years in the Jewish Residential District in Warsaw. Her father and sister died in the ghetto.
"When the ghetto was finally closed [off], there was fear and terror and death on the streets. I didn’t want to be a Jew. I was trying to escape all that happened, since I had entered the ghetto and in my later years. That’s because being a Jew meant only misfortune for me. Being a Jew was a misfortune. I wanted to get away from as far as possible," Agata Bołdok shared in a conversation with Magda Łucyan.
The first memory that comes up in Agata Bołdok’s mind when she think about the ghetto is "a poster with a caricature of a Jew with a huge nose and captions saying 'Jew equals typhus and lice'". "I was only 7 when I learned that I was Jewish and that we must move to the ghetto and that’s why I didn’t want to associate myself with that poster and I was very much opposed to all that was happening," she recollects.
"I completely didn’t understand why we had to move out. We lived on Marszałkowska street and all of the sudden we had to relocate. I was asking my mother why I had to move out as I was just like any other kid. This poster has been haunting me ever since. I just can’t get rid of it," she stressed.
"Every month it got worse and worse," said Ms Bołdok when asked about the living conditions in the closed-off district. "I don’t remember much of everyday life as I was very strongly protected by my parents, they kept me home. Mostly, I sat in the window and stared down," she said. One of the most shocking images she remembered was a dead horse "on which people pounced to grab the meat".
"We were very hungry. Very hungry," she told Magda Łucyan, not hiding tears. She also shared that her seven-years-older sister, one simply didn’t return home. "I still have no idea what happened to her and to my father. They simply disappeared. My sister was in the prime of her life, as they say, because she was 16 years old. Later on, my mother put me through a hole in the wall into the other side,” Ms Bołdok recalled. She also remembers herself screaming that she didn’t want to go through the wall. „Someone pushed me from the inside, someone pulled me from the outside,” she explained.
"Then my mother did something that I find hard to believe even today. My mother took me and boarded a train going east as she had relatives in Podlasie. She entered a German car and asked, as she spoke very good German, if we could join in. We came there straight from the ghetto," she highlighted.
"Today, I see it as either my mother’s heroism or something beyond comprehension. We sat there for a while but the train conductor kicked us out," she added.
The first time it was Agata’s mother who saved her life. "The second time, I survived the transport to Treblinka," she said. "As it happened, I found myself in another ghetto. We were all put in a sort of a convoy and they took us the railway station. I’m not sure if was aware where we were being taken. I only remember my uncle warning us that it all might have ended up not so well. After they loaded us on the train, my uncle called me, people were swallowing something, they were simply committing suicide," she recalled.
"The crowd pushed me towards the door where a railroad worker saw me. He looked at me in wonder and said 'Child, you have blue eyes just like my daughter'. We were in the last car. He said to me: "On my signal, you will run and hide in a toilet out there and wait for me". He literally pulled me out of that crowd and told me to run. A moment after, the train departed," Ms Bołdok said.
"I don’t remember at all if he came to me or not," she admitted. "I do remember, however, that it was the beginning of one big wandering for me. I had no place to sleep, nothing to eat. All of the sudden I found myself in front of a church where I spent the night and was picked up my military police. Then I found myself in a home for the elderly where I slept underneath the bed," she said.
"One day I went outside. Some woman saw me on the street and started to scream: 'Look! There’s one Jew left! Police!'". This time, her life was saved by other women, who pulled her back into a basement.
"I think I had my emotions hidden very deeply and I was focused only on survival," Ms Bołdok said. "I didn’t cry when I was separated from my mom, I didn’t cry in front of that church at night. I think I didn’t have any emotions at the time. Emotions surfaced only later," she explained.
The ghetto survivor was asked about the message she would like to pass on to younger generations. "May they not get covered by this wave of hate, the wave of resurgent nazism. May they understand how it was to be a Jew or a Gypsy or any other person who suffered so much. After all, we are all equal and it’s pointless to hate each other so much," said Agata Bołdok.