Maryla i Marek

We were employing four shop assistants. The father engaged only Poles, as he didn’t want his business to be associated with the Jewish owner. And for that reason, he called his company Mel-Poz – coming from Melamedzon Poznan. But once, it was probably in 1928, at dinner time, some representatives of Jewish community came to my father and they asked him to employ one more worker. They know, to be frank, he has already enough shop assistants – they said – but the business is prospering and there is one Jewish family that found itself in a tragic situation. His name is Marek Lewkowicz, he came from Kalisz to look for a job, but he can’t find any for a few months.They barely make a living. Moreover, his young wife, who is only 18, is just giving birth in the Municipal Hospital. However, she is too narrowly-built, so she is suffering and can’t give birth. The mother and her baby are in danger of death. Mr Lewkowicz came to the community for help, and after consideration they decided to speak to Mr Melamedzon.

Then, they were laughing at Tatulinski*, as he furtively wiped away the tears while listening to this story, pretending to get something in his eye.- So, what does he look like?-he asked. – Unfortunately, he has a Semitic look-they admitted. They assumed that he might not want to employ him, but Tatulinski said: – Well, I want to see him. So,they called Lewkowicz, who was waiting on the staircase. Daddy looked at him, took a 100 zl note  out of his wallet and he says: I’m engaging you and I’m giving you an advance payment. You will be payed the same as shop assistants are. The salary was not high, equal to an average clerk’s wages, but shop-assistants got extra percentage of a number of sold clothes. Lewkowicz took the money and rushed to the hospital. He stormed into the maternity ward, where his wife Maryla was lying ,and waving with the note he called: – I’ve got a job!, I’ve got a job! Then, she cried: – Oh! She cried so loudly and with such a relief, probably, with  hope for a normal life, that all her tension eased, her strength got back and she started giving birth. In effect she gave birth to a healthy baby- boy, Natan,  little Niutek. They gave him such a name, as Natan means gift. Everybody called him the child of our business.


An extract from the book: Fira. Poznańacy Żydzi. Opowieść o życiu”.


*Tatulinski – the diminutive of the Polish word “tata” (father) created by young Fira Melamedzon and used for her beloved dad.