Katarzyna Meloch was born in Łódź on 7 May 1932.
Her father came from Radom and was a historian, student of Professor Tokarz. He specialised in uprisings; shortly before the war he published a doctoral thesis titled “Peasant Interests in the November Uprising”. After being transferred to Białystok, he was the director of archives but was later removed from his post for communist views. He was conscripted into the Soviet army after the German troops made an incursion into Białystok.
Her mother, Wanda, was a classical philologist. She worked as a teacher at lower secondary schools in Łódź, but lost her teaching qualification due to her political views and switched to office work. She was arrested in 1941 by Germans or Ukrainians.
Before the war, Katarzyna Meloch started attending a private Jewish school. No Jewish holidays were celebrated at her family home (at 49 Królewska Street in Warsaw; the building burned down during the bombings in 1939), her parents identified primarily as Poles. In 1939, the fled from Warsaw to Białystok, where they were found by Germans in the summer of 1941.
After her father was conscripted and her mother was arrested, Katarzyna Meloch was sent to a Jewish orphanage at Częstochowska Street within the Białystok Ghetto, where she spent roughly half a year. As a result of the efforts of her uncle Jacek Goldman, she was transported to his home at 12 Elektoralna Street within the Warsaw Ghetto. In August 1942, she was brought out of the ghetto by a nurse (the operation was organised by her uncle) and reunited with her maternal grandmother, Michalina, who had escaped from the ghetto before. She stayed at Father Boduen Children’s Home, where she was given the false identity of Irena Dąbrowska. After that, until the end of the war she stayed at an orphanage managed by Sisters Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Turkowice.
After the war, she moved in with the wife of her uncle Jacek Goldman in Saska Kępa. She attended Maria Curie-Skłodowska State Secondary School No. 12. She ran from her uncle’s wife to her paternal grandmother, who had returned from Siberia together with her daughter. She studied Polish philology; initially, she worked as a researcher, but later she decided to go into journalism. She has a daughter, as well as a grandson and granddaughter.
Recording circumstances description
The interview was recorded at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
- The interviewee’s childhood, education at a Jewish school; atmosphere at her family home; 00:01:48
- The interviewee’s religious and national identity; 00:04:03
- Flight from Warsaw to Białystok; the family found by the Germans; 00:06:04
- Plan to rescue the interviewee created by her mother; the mother’s arrest; 00:07:19
- Placement in a Jewish orphanage within the Białystok Ghetto; 00:10:50
- Fortunes of the Jews from Białystok resettled to Częstochowa; 00:12:25
- Description and history of the family home in Warsaw; 00:13:25
- Childhood and family situation; the interviewee’s parents’ sense of national identity; 00:15:36
- Scientific work of the interviewee’s father; 00:17:22
- Education and employment of the interviewee’s mother; 00:20:07
- Political views of the interviewee’s father; the mother’s dedication to the father’s scientific career; 00:21:48
- Memories of the childhood with her uncle; 00:23:36
- Arrival from the orphanage in Białystok to the uncle’s home in the Warsaw Ghetto; 00:28:00
- Stay at the orphanage in Białystok; hunger in the Białystok Ghetto; resolution to survive; 00:32:54
- Loss of a toy during the bombings in 1939; 00:37:23
- Stay at the orphanage in Turkowice; 00:40:30
- Jadwiga Deneka; 00:44:58
- Escape from the ghetto; meeting with Jadwiga Deneka and the interviewee’s grandmother Michalina; 00:46:28
- Description of the interviewee’s arrest by the Jewish police in the ghetto and rescue on part of her grandmother; 00:50:49
- Life with her grandmother after leaving the ghetto; 00:54:00
- Hiding of the interviewee in the ghetto after apprehension by the police and the uncle’s decision that she needed to be led out of the ghetto; 00:55:20
- Rescue of Jewish children by Jews and Poles; 00:56:27
- Meeting with her grandmother at the Children’s Home; the grandmother’s later life; 00:58:36
- Reflection on the interviewee’s close relatives leaving without a goodbye; 01:03:45
- Jadwiga Deneka’s concern for the interviewee’s safety, her arrest and death; 01:06:15
- Unknown circumstances of Jacek Goldman’s death; 01:09:46
- A longing for dolls; 01:14:28
- Receipt of a false identity; 01:18:53
- Efforts of the nuns from Turkowice and their cooperation with inspector Jarmulski and Jan Dobraczyński; 01:20:43
- Efforts aimed at ensuring that the nuns and Jan Dobraczyński are recognised as Righteous Among the Nations; 01:25:13
- Story told by Jan Dobraczyński about rescuing a group of Jewish children in cooperation with a German doctor; 01:27:35
- Transfer to Turkowice and the living conditions at the local orphanage; Sister Irena; 01:35:50
- Relations with her peers in Turkowice; singing together; other Jewish children in the orphanage; 01:41:35
- The interviewee’s family photos at an exhibition organised by Gołda Tencer; a letter from a man who remembered Jacek Goldman from the ghetto; 01:50:35
- Fortunes of the family of a male friend from Turkowice met during higher education (Michał Głowiński) and a female friend from Konin; 01:53:11
- Lack of awareness of the end of the war; 01:58:24
- Living with the uncle’s wife after the war; school education, catching up; 02:03:17
- Employment and birth of a child; 02:06:50
- Escape from her uncle’s wife to her paternal grandmother; adult life after the grandmother’s death; 02:08:02
- Impact of war experiences on the interviewee’s present life; 02:12:06
- Views on Jewish traditions and the sense of Jewish identity; reflection on the interviewee’s generation; 02:20:20
- The interviewee’s mother running away from the father before the daughter’s birth; a search for otherness; 02:34:15
- A sense of ties with Jewish traditions and the Jewish community in terms of culture, not religion; 02:39:45