The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program

Molly Applebaum

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Born
October 27, 1930 Krakow, Poland

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

Immigrated
1948 Toronto

Hidden away underground, in a box, twelve-year-old Molly has only her older cousin and her diary to keep her company. For two years, she writes of her confinement “in a grave”: the cold, dark and stuffiness, the unbearable suffering from insufficient food, and the complicated reliance on the two farmers who are risking their own lives to save her. Buried Words is a stark confession of Molly’s fears, despair and secrets and, above all, her fervent wish to stay alive.

Warning: Memoir contains sexual content.

About Molly

Molly Applebaum was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1930. After the war, she spent three years in displaced persons camps in Europe before immigrating to Canada as a war orphan. Buried Words is the first English translation of the diary Molly wrote in Polish from 1942–1944 while hidden on a farm in Dąbrowa Tarnowska, Poland. Molly Applebaum lives in Toronto.

Photos and Artifacts

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    Molly’s mother, Sara (née Kuntsler) Weissenberg, Molly (née Melania) and her brother, Zygmunt (Zyga). Krakow, circa 1938.

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    Molly, age eight. Krakow, circa 1938.

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    Molly, circa 1939.

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    Molly with friends and family on vacation in Krynica, Poland, 1938. In back, on the far right, is Molly’s mother, Sara. In front, left to right: Zyga, a friend and Molly.

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    Molly with her family. From left to right (in back): Molly’s aunt Karoli; her cousin Olga; her mother, Sara; and Molly. In front, Molly’s cousin Janek (left) and her brother, Zyga (right). Krakow, 1939.

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    Molly (right) with her stepfather, Ignac Keller, and her mother. Krakow, 1939.

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    Molly’s friend Sabina (Bineczka) Goldman (right) with her sister Mania. Dąbrowa Tarnowska, Poland, 1941.

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    Molly (left) with her cousin Ala. Dąbrowa Tarnowska, Poland, 1941.

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    Sabina Goldman, wearing the Star of David armband. Dąbrowa Tarnowska, Poland, 1941.

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    Sabina’s letter to Molly, dated September 11, 1942.

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    Sabina’s letter to Molly, dated September 11, 1942.

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    Sabina’s letter to Molly, dated September 11, 1942.

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    Sabina’s letter to Molly, dated September 11, 1942.

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    The farm where Molly and her cousin Helen were hidden. Victor is second from the left; the other people in the photo are not known. Date unknown.

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    Emilia (third from the left) on her farm. Date unknown.

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    Molly Applebaum, 2016.

The Book

Cover of Buried Words

Buried Words

When I looked at the world with the eyes of a child it appeared so rose-coloured... and now? I am happy when I survive another day and I await the next in fear. When is it going to end? Are we even going to live until the end?

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Buried Words

Dear Diary

Sunday, March 14

I have opened my notebook again after a rather long break. And it is because today we are standing for the whole day in the stable to stretch ourselves out a little. And because it is very uncomfortable for me to write lying down, I brought the notebook upstairs. But the conditions are not favourable here either, because I am chilled to the bone even though it is mid-March and the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining brightly and the earth is fragrant. If only I could walk out of the stable door and sit on the threshold... It is so distant and simply unattainable, that, unfortunately, I should not even whet my appetite and dream about it. I already cannot imagine a life different from the one I am living. Shall it always be like this? Is the evil ever going to end?

Wednesday, April 7

The world is so large, so extremely enormous, that you cannot go around it fast or comprehend its vastness, not even with your mind. Almost the entire globe is inhabited by people. Apparently people live even on the other side of the moon and on Mars, too. There is a place on the surface of the earth for all living creatures. Sadly, there is no place on the surface of the earth only for two miserable, abandoned living creatures. So these two poor, miserable human beings are forced to live under the surface, squeezed in a small box, where you can merely lie down and still feel cramped. And you can only dream about sitting. And these creatures lie in this box for months on end and they emerge into the stable for only three hours a day. Confinement — dirt, bugs, darkness and stuffiness — as in a grave. But these creatures are so happy that it is as it is and not worse and they are thankful for this ‘grave’ in their daily prayers. And they say nothing, they do not even complain anymore because they know that there is no place for them on the surface of the earth. Are we destined to ever emerge onto the surface?