21- Stefan's House


On a desktop or laptop computer, click the image to expand and download a hi-resolution version

(From Tapestry): “October 15, 1942. My sister and I arrived in the village of Dombrowa and went to the house of Stefan, our father’s friend. We begged him to help us. He embraced us and promised to help. But after two days, he sent us out into the rain, with no place to go but the forest.”

Embroidery and fabric collage, 1993.
55-15/16″W x 39-11/16″H.

Narration by Esther's daughter, Bernice Steinhardt

00:00 / 01:44

Transcript of Narration

Notice now that this is the fourth picture that describes the events of October 15, 1942. This picture begins on the day and continues over several more days, with four different time periods shown. The first is when the two girls arrive at Stefan’s house and fling themselves into his arms as he embraces them. Crying desperately, they told him that they were Hersh’s daughters, and they begged for him to help them. He tried to calm them down and promised to look after them. He hid them in his attic, where they spent the next few days stringing tobacco leaves. But one morning when they came down for breakfast they saw their baskets standing and some food packed, and Stefan told them they had to leave. “All of Mniszek knows you’re here,” he said. “And if the Germans come, they’ll kill you,” he said. “They’ll kill me and my family and they’ll burn down my farm. You have to leave.”

So the two girls left his house in the rain, and they headed for the forest where they waited for the rain to stop. It was here that my mother realized that they could no longer survive as Hersh’s daughters. They would have to go where no one knew them and where they could pass as Polish Catholics. So Esther created a new identity for them. She would become Josephina (or Yuzha as a nickname) Grochowiezka, and Mania would become Maria (or Marisha) Grochowiezka. They would say that they came from the village of Czyzow, a village that Esther had heard her Father talk about, and that they had become separated from their family and that they were looking for work.

​Transcript prepared by the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science Docent Association.