Olsztyn & Erika

Posted on Updated on

Today we had to make a tough decision – go with the people from Israel and the interns to the local Baptist church, where a couple of them would speak, or accept an invitation to travel with George to a church in a nearby town where Ben was asked to share a bit of his testimony.  We asked Andrzej and April (the camp directors) what they thought we should do and they thought that the church in Olsztyn might benefit from some visitors.  So this was our choice and we are glad that we went.  Ben was able to share a few words (audio file below), we enjoyed wonderful fellowship and were invited to the pastor’s house for lunch afterwards.

Obiad at the home of Marcin & Basia Zwolińska with their son Benjamin

We greatly enjoyed the amazing food his wife prepared and our conversation with them.  We also discovered some of the dreams he has for the church to become more involved in the community that we think we might be able to help them turn into reality.

Before we left the camp this morning, we were able to read Erika’s story.  She is the woman who had told me that her eyes caused her great pain and she has no peace in her heart.  We found out that she desires for others to hear her story – to let the world know and not forget what happened.  So, I will close by passing it on to you.  Keep in mind as you read it that the “Christian” orphanage  would have been Catholic, so although Erika believes in God she has a great many questions and confusions about faith.

Erika was born in Bratislava.  When the war broke out, her father placed both her and her mother in a Christian orphanage to try to keep them safe.  Among the orphans there were 13 Jewish children in hiding.  Erika’s father was caught by the Nazi soldiers and was tortured to make him reveal the hiding place of his family.  He didn’t tell them where they were, and had to pay a high price for this, as he was sent to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen.  After a while the hiding place of the Jewish children became known to the Nazis anyway.  They came and took all of the children to a checkpoint for Jews being held to be transferred to concentration camps.  This happened when Erika’s mother was out for evening prayer.  When she came back and was told what had happened, she went to the checkpoint herself.  She did not want to be separated from her daughter even if it meant she would also be sent to a concentration camp.  Together they were sent to Therensienstadt.  They survived the war, and were reunited with Erika’s father in Bratislava, but lost all other family.  Erika tells that the memories of these years, the beatings, degrading words and treatment of the Nazi soldiers, have never left her.  For her entire life she has been living in the shadow of these memories.

5 thoughts on “Olsztyn & Erika

    Jan Frame said:
    June 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    These stories just touch me….I cry. I will be praying for Erika…..the heartache of her story has such powerful emotion, it’s overwhelming. Ben’s testimony was inspiring…..what a Godly husband you have. I am still praying for you as you journey forward this week, I pray you are feeling God’s work and his peace.


    Souza said:
    June 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    God is changing generation. I’m in Olsztyn, Can you pass me the address from the church?


      Rachel said:
      June 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      I’m afraid I do not have the address of the church, but you could find Marcin Zwolińska on Facebook. He is the pastor there and I’m sure he’d love to be in contact with you.


    Eventful Day | The Journey Back said:
    June 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    […] to his displeasure!)  I recognized several faces as returnees from last year, including my friend Erika.  I’m not sure she remembers me, but I hope to talk to her […]


    Conversations | The Journey Back said:
    June 9, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    […]  Erika spent time at the concentration camp at Therensienstadt.  You can read her story here.  She said that she has had many conversations that have lead her to believe that another […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s