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Shoshana Golan was just 6 when she left the Dudziak home in liberated Poland in 1945 with a group of children orphaned by the Holocaust.
Nearly seven decades later, Golan waited anxiously last week at John F. Kennedy International Airport for her “sister,” Wladyslawa Dudziak to arrive.
“It’s something hard to describe,” she said moments before Dudziak walked into the room and the two shared a long embrace.
“I’ve never been this happy,” the white-haired Dudziak said through a translator. “I was given one more chance in life to hug her.”
Dudziak’s older sister and aunt worked in the home of Sara and Joseph Bieman in Lublin, Poland, taking care of their only daughter, Golan, when the Nazis invaded in 1939.
Three years later, the Biemans asked Dudziak’s aunt to look after their daughter when they traveled to Krakow in order to obtain false documents so they could pass as Christians.
They were successful in securing documents for Sara, but on a second trip Joseph was stopped and taken into custody by the Germans. Sara returned home to get money to try to bribe the Germans, but she left and never returned. It is believed Golan’s parents were killed at the Majdanek concentration camp.
Dudziak’s aunt was fearful Golan would be discovered by the German post across from her home, so she asked Dudziak’s mother, a widow who lived with her four daughters, if she could look after the little girl.
Dudziak was the youngest of the four daughters and the closest to Golan in age, and the two formed a strong bond in the two years they spent together, when Golan was taught Catholic prayers and went to church every Sunday.
After the Russians liberated Poland, Golan traveled with a group of orphans to Israel to start a new life.
She joined the army, married and had four children of her own, but never forgot the years she spent living in the Dudziak house as a Christian in order to hide from the Nazis.
“I never forgot I am a Jewish child. It didn’t help me. It wasn’t easy, but it was fact,” she said.
Dudziak, in the meantime, had been receiving financial support from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, a New York City-basedgroup founded to provide financial assistance to non-Jews who helped Jews during the Holocaust. The group paid for Gloan, Dudziak and their families to spend the weekend at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
“Every year we do one rescuer and one survivor,” Stanlee Stahl, the foundation’s executive vice president, said of the yearly reunion. “It’s getting harder and harder each year.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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