The Covenant

Klimintov, Poland

Due to the danger level increasing, the Ropelewskas decided to send their carriage driver, Pan Jan, to take Marion as far away from Opatów as possible. Pan Jan eventually arrived in a town called Klimintov, a devote Catholic center. Pan placed Marion in a ditch next to the girl’s convent at night and sprinted off. He came back and knocked on the door of the Order of Sisters in the Name of Jesus covenant. Pan told the sisters that he noticed a girl, Marion, was in a ditch crying and that he did not know who she belonged to. All Marion was able to tell the sisters was that her name was Marisha. They figured Marion was a poor lost Christian orphan. Pan Jan suggested they call her Marisha Ropelewska because he found her with his employers horse and buggy. That nuns took her in, and Marion stayed there till 1945. Marian spent the next three years of her childhood growing up in the Catholic convent. She had always felt different from all the other girls at the convent. Marion was constantly lonely, anxious, and remained petrified throughout the three and a half years she lived there. Marion had no one come for her , no one to love her and was always famished. This was the first time she did not have enough food to eat. Marion soon learned to look after herself and trust no one except herself as she put her brain into survival mode. Marion was a devoted Catholic at a young age. During this time, Catholics were very anti-Semitic due to events in their religious history. The nuns would teach the students that Jews were bad people and that they killed Christ. They were taught that Jews were the devil. Due to this, Marion became a rabid Jew hater which was a part of her “education” and she began to imagine a Jew as a bloodsucking, horned, and devilish creature.


In early 1945, Germany began to lose the war, but the Wehrmacht passed through Klimintov. As their tanks were passing through the convent, they started dropping bombs at their location. It is still widely unknown how Germany decided where to bomb specific locations however the Germans start to evacuate the location due to the fact that they were losing the war and that barracks of where Marion was living that took a direct hits from bombs which caused the convent to lit up into flames. The sisters had the children go to the Virgin Mary statue and pray to her on her knees rather than running for their lives. As they were praying fires are spreading all round all around them and Marion instead jumped up and started running for own life while some other girls did the same. it was chaos and everyone was running chaotic Lee in different directions. Marion was alone and terrified while blindly tripping over bodies at the convent in the dark while fire was all around her. By the time she left the covenant she kept running through the streets of Klimintov. Eventually Marion became overwhelmed with exhaustion and sat down in a gutter next to a sewer and fell asleep. The next day, she woke up and found some other children, but they had no place to go and they had to scourge for food. she turned off the constant hunger that made Marion lethargic and weak. Eventually the nuns found them, but they could not go back to the covenant due to the fact that it was destroyed by the bombings. Some kids went back to their parents if they had homes, but the others that had no place to go were eventually transferred to a convent in Loniow, near Krakow. Marion was only four and a half at this time and all she could think about was food. Meyer, Marion’s father, had been a laborer in Monowitz, in the Buna Works. He slaved away in chemical factories making synthetic rubber and oil from 1942 to 1945. All of Marion's family had had died at the concentration camps except for her father Meyer, her aunts, and uncle. In May 1945, after being liberated by the allies Meyer went to go look for the rest of his family. After a short amount of time Meyer discovered that his wife, two of his sisters, brothers and parents were all murdered in Treblinka, a extermination camp. Accepting this painful new reality, he set out to find Marion. Meyer traveled to Ropelewska’s home to get Marion. However, Mr. and Mrs. Ropelewska explained to Meyer how their neighbors betrayed them and how the German came to see if Marion was a Jew. They told Meyer how they were afraid of being killed, so they had Pan Jan take her somewhere else. They said Klimintov was where Pan Jan left her, so Meyer hitchhiked to Klimintov to find his daughter. When he arrived at the convent the nuns were looked at him like he was crazy due to the fact that Meyer appeared to be extremely emaciated and since the covenant never harbored Jewish children. Meyer persisted that Marion was there and the nuns explained that their convent was bombed during the war, so they moved the kids to Loniow. Loniow is where Meyer went off too. Meyer hitchhiked to Loniow and knocked on the door. When he asked for his daughter, the nuns insisted that they did not harbor Jewish children. Meyer, being persistent, did not accept what the nuns were telling him, and the nuns eventually agreed only if he was able to pick out his daughter by only looking at the backs of the girls. It had been three years since Meyer saw 5 year old Marion. All that Meyer had to go off of was a birthmark on Marion’s leg. The nuns were shocked as Meyer was able to find Marion. The nun still refused to give up Marion and charged him 5000 zlotys for his daughter Which would add up to 5000 American dollars. The nuns were convinced that this would be the last they would ever see Meyer as they figured that the emaciated man had escaped from the North and had nothing. Meyer went back to Opatów and went from agency to agency begging for 5000 zloyts. The allies had established agencies that would help the Jewish people with money. After a few days the agency granted Meyer 5000 zloyts and he immediately went back to Loniow. The nuns were shocked that he upheld his end of the deal and gave Meyer his daughter back. Marion was not happy to be away with a stranger who was her father as she grew up at the convent with the mentality that Jews were all evil. She was petrified but went off with him to their new life with their original name, Mania Sztajman. Meyer and Marion went back to Opatów where, through the help of the relief agencies, Meyer was able to find two of his four sisters. His sisters survived being slave laborers in Zal Skarzykso from July of 1942 to August 1944 and then transferred to Czenstocheu Zucht until January 1945. They were in Leipzig until they were liberated by the allies. Meyer, his sisters and their husbands, and Marion occupied a flat. Every night the family was sit around the table and would discuss the horrors that they had experienced. Marion didn't understand at all due to never learning Yiddish. Marian would go in the corner of the flat and pray to Jesus every night. This did not go well with her family because they had lost all of their family due to being Jewish. Marion continued to be a good Christian, but she hid it from everyone.