Claire Subar

From  the  moment  Claire  was  born,  April  18,   1940,  her  parents  tried every  means  to  give  her away.     Hitler was  approaching her  home town   of Nadworna,  Poland,  and  Claire's  parents  believed  they  would  all  have a better chance  of  surviving  if their newborn  infant could be hidden.  Every time they found someone to take the baby, the parents would find her on their  doorstep  the next  morning.  For  2-1/2  years,  they  desperately   tried
to  give  their  child  to  anyone  -  Polish,  Gentile,  whoever  would  take her.

Finally, with nothing else  to  do,  her  father  was  walking with  Claire along a back country road when he came upon a youg woman who seemed to be aimlessly walking.   He begged her to take the baby.   She agreed.  He told her that  if  someone  should come  after the war  to claim her, she was  to give the baby up.  The woman accepted baby Claire.  As it turned out, the woman's  own baby daughter,  also 2-1/2 years old, had died a week   before. Baby Claire went home with the woman to the little cottage she and her husband shared.   It was there Claire spent the next 4 years of her young life. According to Claire, this was a time spent with loving parents.     

She was baptized Vango Klimik and raised as-a Catholic.  Her Polish "mother" registered her name in the Catholic Church and at the same time added Claire's Jewish name to the list of Jewish dead.  This very deed saved Claire's life several years later when the family was accused of hiding a Jewish child. Her  life  with  the  Polish  couple  was  happy  even  though  there  were times  of  sadness  and danger.  She  was  beaten  and ostracized  by  the  village children.   Perched  in  a  tree  she_ _ witnessed  Nazi  soldiers  storm  through  the village  and  ransack,  rape  and  murder  the  villagers  in their  way.  She  even watched  in  horror  as  2  Nazis  ripped  a  baby  apart;  then  threw  the  2  halves of  the  body  on  the  ground  near  its dead  mother.

When at last the war was over, a strange woman appeared at the family's cottage. Claire was not told who it  was.        The woman stayed with the family for a while and after  many secretive discussions, Claire  was told she was going on a 2 week vacation with the woman.  The woman as it turned out was Claire's natural mother, and the vacation was a return  to her previous identity.  After Claire had been with this woman for 2  weeks, she told her that she was ready to go home.  The women then told her that she  was  her natural  mother,  and  Claire  would  never  return  to  the  Polish family again.      

Hitler  may  have been over  but for  Claire  her real hell was just beginning. Claire's mother was mentally abusive to her,  screaming  that  Claire should  have  died  during  the  Holocaust  and  not  her father.  Claire's  growing up years with her mother were ones of agony until she was able to leave the  house  and  get married.

After  marriage the misery did not stop. Her family  and marital life was dysfunctional, and to this day, she lives  in great   turmoil.  It  was only after she attended a conference on the Hidden Children in New York City that she realized she was not alone and that many others had similar experiences and lives  like hers.

Interviewed by Jane Rushesky