“Seven-year-old Helena (Stefania Podgorska’s sister) had grown quite adept at passing slips of paper through the barbed-wire fence unnoticed, but this time she was unlucky. A gang of teenage boys saw Helena take a note from inside the ghetto, and began to chase her.
Frightened, Helena started to run away. Although she could not read or write, Stefania had told her never to let anyone see the little pieces of paper she took from the ghetto. As she ran, she tore up her message and ate the pieces. When the boys caught up to her and found nothing in her hand or pockets, they beat and kicked her so badly she could barely make it home.
For four years after the war was over, Helena was mute. Now in her fifties, she still stutters. The need for secrecy had been impressed on her so deeply, and the trauma of discovery had been so shocking, she could not escape from her habit of silence.”