The House on Telegraph Hill

Synopsis: Victoria has survived Nazi concentration by assuming the identity of one who died there. She arrives in San Francisco to see her "son" just as the boy's great-aunt dies leaving a lot of money to be inherited. Victoria falls in love with the boy's trustee Alan Spender, and they move into the mansion on Telegraph Hill. Living life in a new identity isn't without its dangers, however.
Director(s): Robert Wise
Production: Fox
93 min

This is San Francisco

as it looks from Telegraph Hill.

And this is the house

on Telegraph Hill...

where I once thought I would find

peace and contentment.

This is how it looks today,

but my story begins 11 years ago...

and 7,000 miles away

in another house near Warsaw...

in my native Poland.

My name is Victoria Kowelska...

and this was my home.

It looked like this in 1939

when my husband came home on leave.

And this is what was left

after the Germans had passed.

In one stroke,

I had lost my husband...

my home,

everything I held dear...

and had become one of the thousands

of miserable strays...

who were herded into prisons

and concentration camps.

- How the will to live survives

in a place like Belsen...

I do not know.

But I wanted to live.

I was determined to...

and I was just as determined that my

friend Karin Dernakova should live too.

I had met Karin, a fellow countrywoman,

in the camp.

But she was sick and frail-

too frail for the life of that camp.

And she had more to live for

than most of us.

Her infant son had been smuggled out

of Poland just before the war...

to an aunt in San Francisco.

And if she ever lived through this,

she would join them.

Just think, Vicki.

He's talking and walking by now.

And if he would see me...

he wouldn't even know me.

Please, Karin,

you must eat.

You must keep up

your strength.

What's the use, Vicki?

We'll never get out of here.

I'll never see

my Christopher again.

Hey! Let go!

You dirty hypocrite! You don't care

about her any more than I do!

You only stick to her like a leech

because she has rich relatives in America.

Oh! Oh!

Don't think she's going to

take care of you when we get out of here.

- Don't listen to her.

- She'll never get out of here alive!

None of us will ever

get out of here alive!

We are going to get out.

We are.

Eat your food.

You will come to America

with me, Vicki, won't you?

Aunt Sophie has

a big house on the hill.

She lives there alone

with my Christopher.

She will be glad if I bring you,

because you've helped me so much.

Oh, Karin.

Karin was my friend...

Karin was my friend...

and I fought for her survival

as I fought for my own.

But in the end, I was beaten.

I had done

everything I could for her.

I stole food, medicine...

and I fought off

the others.

I had tried to keep her mind filled only

with thoughts of her son and her aunt.

But with the German army on the run

and liberation only days away...

Karin Dernakova

and our dreams of America...

lay on the cold floor

of Belsen.

All of Karin's identification

was in that bundle.

Her aunt had not seen her

since she was a little girl.

I knew as much about

Karin's life as about my own.

Why not?

Why shouldn't I be Karin Dernakova?

Three days later,

I came before the liberators.

Karin Dernakova.

She's scared to death.

Tell her we're her friends- that we

wanna help her find her home, her family.

Yes, sir.

Get some water.

Here. Drink.

Tell her not to be afraid-

that nobody's gonna hurt her.

There. That's better.

- I'm all right now.

- You speak English.

A little.

I learned it at school.

I am sorry to make you

all this trouble.

You make us

all the trouble you want.

Yell if you'd like to.

You're entitled to it.

Some more of

the same stuff, sir.

- You're from Warsaw?

- Yes.

Well, you'll wanna go back home

as soon as possible, I suppose?

I have no home.

It was destroyed.

No, I meant,

back to your family.

No family left in Poland.

- My-My parents were killed.

My husband also.

- I'm sorry.

In other words,

you don't wanna be repatriated.

Oh, no! Poland does not exist

anymore for me.

- If you force me to go back-

- We're here to help people...

not to force anybody

to do anything.

I feel I should explain,

though, that the alternative

is a camp for displaced persons.

I'm afraid that isn't

a permanent solution either.

Do you have any idea

what you would like to do?

Oh, I-I will take care

of myself somehow.

I guess that's all for now.

Thank you, Major.

You're very kind.

Just a minute.

This must have fallen out

of your bundle.

It belongs to a Victoria Kowelska.

Who is she?

- She's dead.

- How do you happen to have this?

She was my friend.

We kept our things


She will not need this...


So now for better or for worse...

I was Karin Dernakova.

I was soon transferred to

a displaced persons camp.

The moment I arrived there, I sent

a cable to Aunt Sophie in America...

and signed Karin's name to it.

and signed Karin's name to it.

The answer came

in a few days.

- Karin Dernakova.

- Dernakova?

- Mm-hmm.

- Oh, yes.

Here it is. Just came across

from the message center.

I'll read it for you.

"Your cable address to Mrs. John Albertson

forwarded to us.

- Advise:
addressee deceased."

- Please?


It means the person's dead.

"Exhaustive search revealed

all known relatives abroad dead.

"Address all further communications

to our eastern representative...

"Joseph C. Callahan, Attorney,

New York City.

"Signed, Bennett,

Compton and Maxwell...

attorneys for

the Albertson estate."

I'll make a copy for you.

And that was my answer-

a cable from an unknown lawyer

in the unattainable city of New York.

And my hopes gone

with that cable.

In that moment,

I nearly gave up.

But I'd lived with my dream

too long...

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Elick Moll

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The House on Telegraph Hill" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 14 Jun 2024. <>.

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