[Page 54]

A Nine Year Old Girl
Bears the Burden of the Generation

by Lucia Rotman-Greenspan

(A girl who visited with her uncle Moshe Melech Widenbaum)

At school they taught us that Lizhensk is an important city and that it belonged to C.O.P.[1]. To us, this fact was subordinate to its importance to Jewish Hassidism. The other fact meant very little. However we remembered this fact, and we did not realize that it would have significance for us in the future.

On September 4, 1939, when I was still a young girl, the Germans bombed the city since it was listed as a C.O.P., as a manufacturing city, and the regional manufacturing center, so to speak.

The confusion was great. My uncle decided that we had to leave the danger zone. He bought us, myself, and his wife, my aunt to a Jew in a village near Sieniawa. The parting was difficult. We returned to Lizhensk on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. The danger of the bombing had passed… The Germans had entered the city.

I remember very well the first day under the Germans. My uncle owned a large flour storehouse, and he would hire wagon drivers from among the neighboring gentiles every day of the year. I was shocked when I saw that these wagon drivers were the first to pillage us. The arrived together with the Germans, broke into the storehouses and pillaged everything. I remember particularly that there were children along with the wagon drivers. These toddlers wished to taste the taste of plunder and lawlessness at a tender age.

Once I met a boy who was a classmate of mine. He informed me that he had pillaged all of my pictures from my home, and if I would pay him, he would return these precious objects to me.

These memories of my young age include many frightful scenes of torture of children during the holocaust. After the war, they cast a pall on the face of humankind.

A day came which brought bad news to my uncle. We began to gather together important necessities for wandering, and we prepared for what was to come.

The Germans began to enlist the men for “work”. Nobody knew what the purpose of this work was. In a best-case scenario, this included torture and various forms of disgrace. People were brought to work in long lines, with pushing and shoving. However the greatest fear was that one would never return from this work.

Every day, they would come and requisition men for work. I was courageous, apparently. I loved my uncle, and I would go out and say: “There are no men here in the house”.

The believed me, the young girl. My uncle would hide in the attic, and thus I saved him from injury and suffering.

After Yom Kippur, my uncle prepared to build his Sukka, as he was accustomed to do every year. The entire family was gathered together for this mitzvah, which brought with it some forgetfulness of the present, as if everything was going according to the way it had gone previously. During the preparations a decree was heard that we had to appear in the marketplace in fifteen minutes. Whoever ignored this command was liable to death. We had already had our bags packed for some time. Within a few moments we gathered our belongings and went. We were surrounded by Germans. We could not turn right or left. I was laden with a package that was too large for me. My thin body was too small for it. Other children were also burdened with luggage that was too big for them. Thus did we arrive at the San.

The bridge was destroyed. In its place there was a narrow crossing, like a sidewalk. We crossed the river on it and arrived at the village near Sienawa where we had previously been hidden. We remained there for one night.

{Photo page 55 – backbreaking work.}

We traveled to Sienawa the next day. From there we went to Sadowa Wisznia where our uncle lived. He owned the large flourmill in the area. His house and mill were outside the city.

We thought we would have some rest there, that we would find some peace. However the Russians who governed the area saw that we had lots of property, and they chased us out of the home and the mill.

We went to live in the city. We rented a long, narrow room with a family, in order to rest our tired heads.

We spent three or four months without any hope or means. We knew that we were not secure in our position, and things looked bleak for us. If the Germans were difficult for us, at least it seemed as if things would pass. With the Russians, it was different, for their police seemed to us as a tribulation that would never end. This was the opinion of our uncle, and we who listened to his conversations thought as he did. On June 1940, on a Friday night, when they came and informed us that were about to be deported to the depths of Russia, we registered ourselves among those who wished to return “home”. We had the opportunity.

We were advised to continue to hide. We remained for about a week in our hiding place.

The expulsions had finished, and we set out for home. It was about 110 kilometers to the border. We made the journey mainly on foot, and we were again separated. The adults went along their way, and we children were sent to a village until the difficulties would pass. I went to my sister who was in Lemberg. Upon the advice of my sister, I returned to my uncle who had since moved to Zhulkev. To our ill fortune, Zhulkev had fallen into the hands of the Germans. At that time, the period, which was very familiar to me, began – the period of work conscription, torture, and mortal danger.

A Judenrat was set up. Affairs regarding work were organized under its auspices. Work camps were set up, where the labor force was gathered, and divided up according to the needs of the various locations.

In the meantime, my uncle died. I remained with my aunt Elka Widenbaum. One Friday, a German soldier came and told us that in a half an hour, we had to appear in a certain location with our luggage. He had a list in his hands, and on his list, only the name of my aunt was registered. My name was not recorded. I informed him about this, and requested that I be able to join my aunt. However he strongly refused and insisted that only she go.

When he left, I took the initiative, and I, the young girl, advised her to hide, so that she should not also go.

In Zhulkev, there lived a woman who was a Lizhensk native, who had married a man from Zhulkev by the name of Biodenrat. He was an honorable Jew. I surmised that they would not search his home, and if my aunt would hide there she would be saved. She got dressed and arrived at the aforementioned house, however it was closed. To her good fortune, she had forgotten to wear her band of shame (yellow band) due to the haste. As she returned home, she was stopped by a German soldier who asked her about the band. Her excuses were to no avail. He slapped her a few times in the face, and then asked her for her name. It became clear that this soldier was in charge of the division. He happened to have a different list in his hands. Her name did not appear on his list, and told her in a completely different tone: “Since you are not on the list, you do not have to go to the meeting area. Remain and hide, for if you go there, they will not check the list, and you will be taken along with the rest.”

After this he though for a second and added:

“There is a house nearby where there are five young children in one crib. Their father is not there, and their mother is imprisoned in our prison. I don't have the heart to take them into my custody, and nobody else will take them. Go there and wait.”

This house was near to the area where the events were taking place. We entered and waited there. All night, the Germans dragged people off to an unknown place. Children from the area arrived at all times with news about what was taking place in the area. The final news of that evening was that the Germans were short of their quota, and they are also taking old people who are not on the list. My aunt looked older than her age, for the tribulations had aged her. I lay down with her under the sheets. I spread a blanket over the bed, and the bed looked empty and made up.

A few moments later some Germans entered and asked us children if there were any older people in the house. We answered that there were not. They did not search, and they left.

This was the first “Aktion”. We survived it, however its impression was engraved upon my soul for many long years.

At that moment, I celebrated a victory. I began to believe in life and hoped that other tribulations would also pass, if only I do not lose my will to live.

In the meantime, I separated from my aunt. Apparently, there was no choice, since the Germans requisitioned quotas of workers, and my aunt was not known of officially, and therefore was not included in the enumeration.

The Judenrat enlisted me for a work camp. Even today, I do not understand why I was enlisted for that purpose. I was weak, thin, and small for my age. For what work would I be fitting? Who decided this?

I decided not to enter the camp, and what will be will be. In the meantime I found out that my sister moved from Lemberg to Lubczow, and I decided to join her.

This was a distance of 100 kilometers, and I was only 13. I got up and went. The journey took two days. Along the way, a girl from Nemirov joined me. We did not wear our badges of shame, the sign that all Jews were supposed to wear, and some gentiles permitted us to drive a bit in their wagons. We gave our belongings that were in our hands to them as payment, and they did not ask who we were.

Even the Germans who chanced upon us along the route did not pay attention to us travelers. When I came to my sister, I found that there were tribulations also there. Camps were set up, and people were enlisted for backbreaking labor. I decided not to go to a work camp. I desired to live, and I saw the camps as being very dangerous to my life. My brother-in-law arranged for me to work in a farm. We got up at five in the morning, worked in the fields, picked weeds from among the rows of vegetable, and harvested wheat with relative calm. I was introduced to a scythe for the first time. Under these conditions, I did not gain a love for farming.

We lived in bunks. Our bunk was near the railroad tracks. The trains traveled day and night. We knew that these trains transported Jews to the Belzec death camp, and I wanted very much to live.

One day I came to my brother-in-law and asked him to arrange “Aryan” papers for me. The Creator of Life whispered to me that this was the only escape; however, from where would my brother-in-law be able to acquire these documents, how could he fulfill my request? I made this request to him urgently day after day.

One day, he came and told me that he was able to fulfill my request. This happened by chance. The gentile with whom we had lived in Boleczow came to us in the camp and told him that she had pity upon us, and she sees it as necessary to save us.

She succeeded in obtaining a document for me from the local priest, in the name of a Polish girl who was exiled to Russia, since her father was a Polish sergeant.

She arranged for a farmer to come and take me to his village where nobody would recognize me. The gentile did not come, and she did not hold her peace. In accordance with her advice we decided that I should travel to a work office in Przemysl and volunteer for work there as an Aryan girl who possesses a legal birth certificate. She gave me the address of her sister in Przemysl, where I should stay. I set out on my journey. Nobody accompanied me. I bade farewell to my beloved relatives, and without fanfare I set out.

I was late for the train.

All of those around me saw this as a bad omen. I was the only one who was not perturbed. I went out again to the train, this time to a night train. This was safer, for at my young age I already knew that the night was more dangerous than the day at times of peace and quiet; however during times of trouble and life-threatening danger, the night was safer than the day. There was protection under the darkness of night. The wolf-like people were also less likely to be wandering around at night.

This time, a gentile woman accompanied me along the way. She arranged a ticket for me. I was dressed up as a daughter of farmers. I had a kerchief on my head, a faded, torn dress upon my body and a straw basket in my hands.

The journey lasted for one entire night. Along the way, we moved from train to train. It was very crowded, and I made my way in these cramped conditions with one goal in mind … to live. To distance myself from the mortal danger, to bide for more time, and … to live.

Day broke in Przemysl. There was already a large crowd of people when I arrived. I was hungry and afraid. The fear of being a stranger in the city made me forget my hunger. I was afraid lest someone recognize me, lest someone notice my “costume”. However I immediately gained my composure. People asked me if I had any eggs for sale in my basket. I knew that the disguise succeeded.

I set out directly for the house of the sister of my savior.

The sister greeted me nicely. She had already expected my arrival, and was ready to help me. That very day, I went to the work office. They interrogated me at length. They asked me why I am volunteering at such a young age for work and wandering. I answered them that my parents were exiled to Russia, and I was alone.

They sent me to Krakow.

We were a group of girls of various ages. The Gestapo agents interrogated us. They suspected that I was a Jew, and attempted to ensnare me in a trap. One Pole took me to the Krakow ghetto, for they wished to see what my spontaneous reaction would be. I passed the test. The scene in the ghetto was blood curdling. The sighs of the walking skeletons who were awaiting their certain death, the despair of the children who were wandering between the legs of the despondent adults, the withered eyes of the girls and the despair of the mothers – all of this froze my senses; however I wanted to live and I knew that if I did not repress my emotions, I would be captured and liquidated. With all my energy, I overcame myself. I maintained an indifferent look, as if this was none of my business.

This was not sufficient for them. They sent me to organize a room in the office. They watched every move of my hands and body. One of them came and said to me: “We can see that you are not a villager, for you are not used to physical labor. You are trying, but you are not succeeding. Confess to us that you are not a villager.” He took me and showed me a station in the distance. He said to go there alone, for he was afraid to go with me, since I was a Jew and was endangering his well being.

I went.

Someone waited for me near the station and whispered to me: “Flee, oh Jew. We know that you are a Jew. Run for your own good.” I answered him harshly and definitively: “You are an idiot”. I went on the tram and returned to the camp.

The next day I was again brought before the Gestapo. They asked me questions in German, lest I stumble and answer. I answered in Polish that I did not understand the question. The head of the office decided: “She is not a Jew”.

They registered me for a transport that was going to Berlin.

In the morning, there was a roll call for those who were being sent to Berlin. They called everyone by name. When they reached my name, the called out my borrowed name three times until I answered. This was not because I forgot my new name, but rather because I did not believe that they were really going to take me to their capital city, far from the places of danger.

I remained there for three years among gentile girls, including a pair of Ukrainian girls. One was jealous of me that the director behaved well toward me and gave me light work in the work division. They both went and reported that I am a Jew. The director called me, told me about the accusation, and asked if it was true. I stood with my story. He believed me because he wanted to believe me. I had the feeling that he had some anti-Nazi feelings that were aroused in him when he saw my thin body and poor physique. Something clicked between him and me. I had a sense of security that I could count on him. The future corroborated my insight.

There were other Jewish girls at that camp, who arrived in an additional transport after the Warsaw ghetto uprising. They also came as Christians. Among them was a girl whose Jewishness exuded from every feature on her face. The Ukrainians began to spread stories about her, and they publicized the suspicion of her Jewishness. The matter reached the ears of the director. He called me to give my opinion about her. I examined her, so to speak, by investigating her facial expressions, and I made the decision: “According to my opinion, she is not Jewish. There are no more Jews in the world.” She was from Warsaw, and I was not able to get to know her. I felt as if he was soliciting my opinion.

He answered:

“In fact, this is not important. What is important is that she is a human being.”

From that time, I fell that a threesome was formed with regard to my disguise – my heart and the director both wanted our success. In general, I felt at home in the workshop. People forgot that I was very young and spoke to me as a person of importance. One day, the director asked me to teach a young girl who was suspected of being Jewish (and indeed was Jewish) to use the fret saw. This activity was particularly secretive. The entire operations of the A. A. G. workshop were secretive, however this was the “holy of holies” of the secretive workshop. Such a lesson was an unparalleled stamp of approval.

I did what I was asked to do. Within a day, the girl knew how to operate the saw and began to work independently. On her first day of work, she remained to work in the afternoon. As we prepared to go home, while I was still wearing my work clothes, one girl came in and informed me that “my student” had been injured by the saw. The veins of her hand had been cut, and she had been taken to the hospital.

The next day, the director came to ask me for details about the incident. I did not know what to answer him. I requested that he visit her in the hospital in order to find out how such a thing happened.

He visited her two or three times and then told me that, according to her words, I reminded her of her little sister, and when I left her, her memory and imagination became full of images of her sister. Thus did she turn her attention from her work with the electric saw, and she was injured.
[Translator's note: This story is continued on page 78 under the title “ I was a gentile girl in Berlin”]

[Page 61]

Among The Gentiles
Who Were After My Life

related by Henia Kopel (nee Reich)

On the eve of Sukkot, it was decreed that we must leave Lizhensk.

In the morning, everyone except for us gathered in the marketplace, in the place from where the dispersion was to occur. We lived in a remote alleyway and decided to remain. We remained until the afternoon. The main reason was that we did not want to travel by foot, and wished to salvage some of our moveable objects. A milkman who owned a wagon lived near us, and we wished to join him. He was very poor, but when we asked him if he would permit us to travel on his wagon, he did not ask for money. We were four children among a group of adults. When we reached the San, there was still a group of Jews there. We waited to cross the San.

In fact, we desired to remain, to hide in the city or to go to relatives in Rzeszow. However a German appeared, pointed his revolver to the head of father and threatened to kill him if we would not move immediately.

The confusion in the city was very great. People ran about from place to place in perplexity and confusion.

The bridge had been bombed by the Poles as they retreated. The Ukrainians stood by and transported the Jews across the San. The transported us in barges in exchange for money.

We arrived at Korolowka, a village on the other side of the San. We stayed there for two days and then went to Sienawa, where there was no ruling authority. When the Germans arrived there, we fled to Baskawoka. I then parted from my family and went to Lvov to study. I entered a children's home in the basement of a monastery, and from there we were transferred to another children's home. I remained in that children's home until the outbreak of war between the Russia and the Germans.

The children's home was full of Jews and Christians. Its director was a Jewish communist. The teachers were Jewish, however we were only four Jewish girls: two from Zamosz, and one who was handicapped.

When the war broke out, we found out that we were abandoned. The entire staff of teachers had fled. We remained as four lone children among strange and terrifying surroundings.

The directorship was transferred to Ukrainian hands.

A few days later, the Ukrainian director arrived. He had been a fiery communist during the time of the Russians; however now he was adorned with the yellow-blue badge of the Ukrainian nationalists.

I looked at him and did not believe my eyes. Only yesterday he was a committed communist, however he told me: “What are you looking at, there is nothing to be surprised about, everything changes in the world.”

I understood the innuendo. A few days later he expelled us, the four Jewish girls, to a Jewish orphanage. The two girls from Zamosz returned to their parents and I remained alone, cut off from everything, forlorn in my childhood. There was nobody to whom I could turn for help. I was terrified.

This was the first time that I understood what danger was. These were times when I saw death in its full force, in actuality.

As I walked through the streets, I saw Jewish corpses, people who had been murdered wallowing in the streets. I saw corpses of Jews hanging from the porches. These were people who had attempted to flee and had been dispatched to their eternity by a bullet from the murderers. I witnessed incidents of murder with my own eyes, and I cannot describe what took place before my eyes.

In this institution, children who were gathered in from the streets were housed, children with no means and no hope. My suffering grew. The institution was run by important professors. These were Jews who fell from their high places and came here because they were short of means and bread.

The hunger was great. We were hungry for bread. We worked in the kitchen in order to be able to steal a beet to eat. The children became ill with various illnesses, including scabies.

On one cold, snowy, winter day we were expelled from there. The Germans wanted to take over the building. We were transferred to another building, which was shaky, and missing doors and windows. There, there was no cleanliness or food. I was able to manage, since they though I was an Aryan. I always went around with another blond haired girl. We both went together to obtain pills in accordance with the directions of the medical caregivers.

One night we were suddenly awakened. Due to the silence, we immediately realized that there were only a small number of children. Very few remained. The director was requested to give over a group for extermination. The youngest children were taken out of their beds at night and brought to their final destination. The next day, even this small number diminished further. Only the healthy ones remained. The directors spread us out among the Jews who had important jobs, who were left behind by the Germans since their services were needed for the war effort. The Jews accepted us willingly. Everyone took in a boy or a girl and shared their bread with them.

After some time, the news reached us that even these remaining Jews were to be liquidated. I was alert. When I saw that the end was approaching and the Germans were beginning to gather even the professionals, I dressed up in a
Rozaniec[2] (a threaded wreath with a large cross woven upon it), and I went out to the city. I set out toward my home environment, near Rzeszow and Lancut. A Ukrainian gentile whom I knew from school recognized me as I was in the yard in front of the train station. He was shocked at my appearance; however I knew how the situation would end. When he turned to the side, I jumped upon one of the wagons without a ticket, and I set out.

It was during the winter. Snow covered the whole area. When I arrived at a village that I was familiar with from my many visits with my parents, I could not recognize it. The village appeared very different, since we only visited in the summer, and in the winter it looked quite different. I did not recognize it.

The Jews in the villages were still there, however it was forbidden for them to travel a distance of more than one kilometer in their village. It was completely forbidden for them to leave their village.

I arrived at my grandmother's home. She hid me immediately; however two days later her house was given over to Ukrainian refugees by the committee. One of them immediately reported me, and death once again stalked me. However, one of our Ukrainian friends came, informed me of this, and advised me to leave as soon as possible.

I fled from my grandmother's home and arrived at my uncle's in Sokolow. There was already a ghetto for all the Jews of Sokolow. This ghetto was unique in that it did not have a fence or partition. The Jews were simply packed into one small alley, and were forbidden to move from there.

One night, we heard shots that disturbed the silence of the night. The “Aktion” had begun. The Ukrainians spread out on the roads, headed by Germans who issued orders. They killed, beat, slaughtered and tortured anyone who they passed by.

In the ghetto, I suffered from hunger along with my uncle. The days of the “Aktion” passed us by with all their fury. It lasted for several days, and the hours that were filled with fright dragged on. Several days later, the survivors of the ghetto were expelled to Rzeszow. My uncle and his family escaped, and I went with them to my grandmother in Majdan near Sokolow.

We could not reach my grandmother, since any movement was fraught with the threat of death. We hid in the forests, we three children and my aunt and uncle. We met a forester who knew us and made efforts to pursue us. We escaped from him and fled.

We arrived at a village near Majdan, which was surrounded by the forests of Count Potocki. At the edge of the village, we went up and hid on the roof of an isolated house. One night I detected some suspicious movements. I saw that thieves had broken into the house, who were known to steal anything that would come to their hands. It was evident that they came only to rob, however I still took precautions and decided to escape. There was no ladder at the door, and I fell from the roof directly on the ground. I was bruised as I hit the ground, and in addition to the bruises due to the fall, I received a blow with the butt of a rifle from one of the thieves who stood below. I summoned my remaining strength, and I succeeded in escaping. I came to the mayor or the village and told him what had happened. All of the villagers burst outside. The thieves escaped however I had exposed myself and was forced to disappear from the village.

While I was in the village, I became ill with a severe case of scabies. My body was full of wounds, scales and aches. I went to a Christian doctor who was there. He was taken aback by my disheveled appearance, but he took care of me for a number of days until he cured me. When I regained my health and was about to take leave of him, he gave instructions to sew me some clothes to warm my body. It is difficult to forget this incident, a simple, heartwarming gesture amidst the cruel hell that surrounded me.

We left Majdan on the Sabbath. After the prayers, when the remaining Jews had returned from the synagogue, a decree was issued that all the Jews must leave the village. According to the text of the decree, they all had to go to Lancut for labor. Everyone knew what was intended. We prepared to hide. The only place where it would be possible to hide was the forest. One of my cousins was a Yeshiva student, a religious zealot who was deeply attached to Judaism. He said that he would not go out to the forests since he wanted to be among Jews in a community, in order to be able to fulfill the daily prayers, continue his Talmud studies, etc. He set out for Lancut and was shot there, before we even arrived.

One of our acquaintances took me and brought me to a different village. At first it seemed to me that I would be able to rest there. Through the connections of one of my acquaintances, I began to work for a farmer. The work granted me a spiritual reprieve, despite my young age and my weakened body. However, two days later, one of the villagers recognized me and I was forced to escape.

I, a young girl, all alone, fled into the thick forests.

I searched for my uncle and other survivors of my family in the forests. I could not find anyone. I wandered around tortuous paths that I was not familiar with, and led to nowhere.

I left the darkness of the forest. I went to the nearby homes and I requested work. The fields were ready for harvest. I went from house to house and pleaded. There were those who gave me work in return for a small piece of bread and a night's sleep, however each of them in turn kicked me out the next morning. To them my work appeared to “like a Zhid”, even though they did not suspect my Jewishness.

Once I had some luck. I asked for work from a gentile woman who had fallen from a wagon full of sheaves and was not fit to work.

I entered and greeted her with a customary Christian blessing. She liked me, and I worked for her for several weeks. One day, I returned from my work all dirty since I had been harvesting potatoes. This was at the beginning of autumn, and I was wearing a light summer dress. I saw the master of the house standing outside the house near the door, as if he was no longer going to permit me to enter the house. A strange man stood next to him. The master of the house told me that a man was waiting for me. The man turned to me and asked me many questions about my origins, my nationality, and other such things. Finally, he told me to follow him.

I knew that I had been turned in. Apparently, someone had recognized me and slandered me. I requested that he permit me to go into the house so I could get dressed for the journey.

In the house, I closed the door from the inside. I ran out the back window and fled with all my energy. At some distance from the house, I climbed up a tall tree and hid in its thick branches. I enwrapped myself in the leaves and fell asleep. The night was very cold, and in the middle of the night, the cold was similar to winter. I shivered from the cold, and wailed like a pack of cats, but I did not come down from the trees.

At sunrise I looked around and saw that there was nobody around. I came down from the tree and went along my way. I arrived at a village that was tucked away in thick forests. I went again from house to house, asking for work and bread. They sent me to a farmer whose wife was insane and was in need of help.

The farmer treated me well; however I was afraid. What would happen if the crazy woman would come out of her hiding place? How would I protect myself from her? Furthermore, where was she? What would happen to me then, if I would lose my ability to work? Who would feed me?

A few days later the farmer came and told me that two days previously, a Jewish girl had been uncovered at the home of a farmer in the neighboring village. He employed her after his wife had fallen off the wagon. He did not know her origins; however it became revealed, and when they came to take her, she fled to her grandmother. They went to her grandmother's and did not find the girl. They began to suspect that the farmer hid her since he needed her services. The Germans returned and interrogated him. They tortured him severely, but did not find the girl.

His story concluded. I knew whom he was talking about. I did not know if he knew whom he was talking about. Frightful days began for me. I again had to be very vigilant. One day, as I was standing in the stable, I peered out carefully through the cracks in the walls. I saw the master of the house coming toward me with a Ukrainian policeman and another person dressed in civilian clothing, who was carrying a bicycle beside him. I jumped out of the stable and began to run as fast as a rabbit. All of the people of the village were present, and began to chase after me. The farmer was the first to catch up to me. We both were far from them. He grabbed me. I struggled and wrestled in an attempt to free myself from him. However, he held on to me as if with pincers and did not let go. I pleaded with to leave me, and I would bring him a large sum of money, if only he would allow me to flee and disappear. He did not pay attention to my pleading. He dragged me to the policeman and told him: “Here she is, I am free of her now. She has a lot of money. I did my job, but I am only missing this.”

When I was near the policeman I recognized him. He knew our entire family. He name was Mroczik. My uncle once made a police cap for him. I realized that he recognized me and knew who I was. He took me along with the civilian detective. When we were a distance from the crowd, he began to interrogate me in the customary fashion, and asked me what I was doing there.

I answered him: “I wish to remain alive”. I answered him simply, but this was the truth. However it was also true that I would have been satisfied if someone would shoot me in the back and murder me, without me having to feel death approaching.

He took me outside the village and then stopped, showed me directions, and said:

“Go in this direction to Ulanow. There are still Jews there. However, my dear, you should know that if you reveal, and even so much as hint, that I saved you, they will slaughter me.”

The civilian was silent.

At that moment, a car filled with Germans approached. I got out of the way, lay down in a mound at the side of the road in order to hide. The Germans passed by quickly without noticing anything. When I got up, he grabbed me and said:

“Don't do such things. You have endangered me by this. Go in this direction. If you stumble across someone, don't try to flee, for this will only cause yourself to be captured.”

He finally added:

“And what will happen to all of them will happen also to you.”

Until this day I realize that I owe my life to this policeman, to Mroczik, who saved me. He also gave me the will to live.

It was 35 kilometers from Ulanow.

I remained in the forest until dark. As I sat down I thought that I would not be able to continue on without clothing. The cold would eat me up, and furthermore, my attire would arouse suspicions, for people would realize that I am a Jewess. I decided to return to the former village, to the farmer whose wife was injured and from whose house I fled, in order to retrieve my clothes that I had left there.

I arrived there at night. I saw him working. I saw him closing the stable and then the straw storage shed. As he prepared to enter his house I jumped out of my hiding place and appeared next to him. He was frightened to death and asked with trembling: “What are you doing here?” I asked him to return my clothes to me. He went into the house, brought me some of them, and requested that I disappear quickly.

I asked him if he would permit me to sleep in one of the corners of his yard for just one night. He refused:

“I have suffered enough from your stay with me. I was in mortal danger. You are again endangering my life. Get away from me if your life is dear to you.”

I had no choice. I went along my way, but the night was already dark, and it was getting colder. I did not have the strength to continue on and move away from this village. I kneeled down and lay down in a patch of potatoes that had been harvested. The earth me covered me with warmth and I fell asleep. I slept the entire night in the deserted field.

I instinctively woke up while it was still night and set out toward Ulanow. While it was still dark, I managed to reach Rudnik, five kilometers from Ulanow. I remembered that all of my efforts were to save myself and to survive, and if it were true that there were still Jews in Ulanow, I would not be able to be saved. I decided not to go to Ulanow.

I remained in Rudnik. I pretended that I was a refugee, the daughter of Christian refugees. I searched for work. In one of the houses the women told me that her mother requires a caregiver. Her second daughter, who is a teacher in Demblin, left her daughter with her, for she is working and her husband was taken as a guarantor. As a sign, she told me to tell her mother that I have come to take care of the daughter of her daughter Irina.

The older woman, a widow by the name of Mrs. Golombiowski, was a hard-hearted and cruel woman. Her two older sons were activists in the Krajowa army, which murdered Jews with their own efforts, for Polish nationalistic reasons. What was I able to do? I wished to live under a roof, to take refuge where there are walls and heat.

I lived in the house of these evil people for one full year. I was sent out to work in the fields immediately after my arrival. The care of the granddaughter was given over to her young daughter who was in the house. I worked at all sorts of difficult labor, but they hardly gave me any food, with the exception of scraps of bread. Another Christian boy worked with me. He was their shepherd. They also did not give him any food. This comforted me, for this was proof that they were not withholding food from me because they might have discovered that I was Jewish, but rather simply out of evilness.

This boy was in reality a Christian refugee, even though I thought he was Jewish. He would steal pieces of bread or potatoes from the house of our employers for both of us, and thus did we survive in the midst of this evil family.

One night, the son returned home, and I heard him announce:

“How can I wander around strange places looking for work, and living off the munificence of strangers. I have had enough of it, I will remain at home and what will be will be.”

He was very tall and possessed legendary strength. The Germans were stalking him and he was not able to live off “the munificence of strange employers”. I was able to live in such a manner.

Some time later, in the evening, Germans appeared suddenly and surrounded the house. I thought that they might be looking for me. I had already lain down on my bed (a chair and a sack of hay). I covered myself up and trembled. I was already looking forward to death, and I was almost happy that my end was approaching. I hoped that everything would finish that evening, and the end of my suffering would come. However, they were searching for the boys.

That night, the giant, mighty son was murdered. The second one was saved. He succeeded in fleeing from them, and in continuing his underground activities against the Germans and the Jews. He dreamed of taking out his wrath by destroying Jews, since he was not able to do much against the Germans.

He conducted underground meetings during the evenings, and I listened to his speeches. Once I heard him say: “We should set up a golden statue of Hitler, to honor him that he destroyed the Jewish filth and succeeded in purifying Poland from its dirty Jews, who never permitted the farmer to walk on the sidewalk[3] or mount his horse, and would name his cow with the names of Ukrainians and Poles, etc.”

Every day I spent in this hell that was filled with this evil make me weary of life. I did not want to continue on.

In the interim, members of the family began to disturb me. They told me:

“You see that he is also a son of Polish refugees, and he has identity papers. You also must arrange your papers, otherwise you cannot continue to live with us.”

Once, Irina came from Demblin to visit her daughter. She related with pleasure that something interesting happened to her on the train. Among the travelers, there was a widow with a toddler. She was wearing black clothes, as was the custom of Christian widows, and the child was eating pork in front of everyone. However, the travelers recognized for some reason that she was Jewish. They took them off the train at the first stop, and murdered her and her son in front of everyone. It was interesting.

This hinted to me that I would have to disappear very shortly. I informed them that I wrote a letter to my uncle, and he would send me the documents. I wrote the letter with much fanfare in their eyes, so that they would actually see it, and a few days later, I ran out at the sound of the barking of the dogs that announced the arrival of the mail, and I brought in a letter from my uncle, so to speak, in which he wrote me that the Germans were no longer going to take me for work, and I was able to return home.

I packed my bag and prepared to leave them as soon as possible.

In the meantime, my friend took interest in the fate of the young refugee. He was two years younger than I was. He noticed that whenever they started to talk to me about documents, I changed the subject to something else. He was silent, and did not say a word. However, he revealed his secret to one of his fellow shepherds. When he saw me once hiding from the rain, he said to me:

“You are Rozia (that is to say, a Jewess). You are afraid of the rain just like you are afraid of holy water.”

The earth began to burn under my feet, for I did not have any peace even outside the home.

This “children's game” was more dangerous to me than to others, for adults are able to make judgments, and if I was necessary to them, they would not send me away. However these children, if they were to talk and spread rumors in the village regarding their suspicions, the adults would have no choice but to send me away or turn me over to the Germans.

I went to his mother and complained about him. I told her that he gave me the nickname “Rozia”, and I wept. I wept a great deal, for I took any legitimate opportunity to weep. Opportunities for weeping were few and far between, for it was forbidden to me, in my state. I felt at that time a reason for weeping, and I took opportunity.

The next day, he came to the field and said:

“I received a spanking from my mother, but nevertheless, you are Jewish.”

He disturbed me every day, and I was terribly afraid at every moment.

Once, Irina, the married daughter from nearby Demblin came and advised me to go with her.

I knew that if I went to her to her town, I would have to bring a food card, and this was only given to those with identity papers. I told her that I did not want to go, because it was good for me here. She became angry at me and said:

“You can go or remain, however you must give details about yourself to me. I must know who you are.” She interrogated me thoroughly.

She was a teacher. She knew more than they did what she wanted, and perhaps she wanted to force me in this manner to go travel to her house.

She conducted a thorough interrogation. She wanted to know who my parents were, where they are, in which Church was I baptized, and when. At the end she informed me that she had already written letters to those places that I had mentioned to her parents on various occasions, and she would find out everything about me.

I knew that my life was approaching its end. There was nothing at all to hope for.

At night, I had nightmares, and in all of them a white dress appeared.

In the morning, when I was in the pastures, I asked the old women, who always met us there, what is the meaning of a white dress in a dream.

She answered:

“A very bad letter is coming in your direction.”

I decided to leave them.

In the same locality, they had relatives. The head of the family was the postmaster, and his wife was involved in smuggling pork to Warsaw. She was away from home for days on end.

They had small children, and I knew that they needed a caregiver to take care of their children during the times that they were both away from home. I also know that the family that employed me hated these relatives.

I went to them. I informed the mistress of the house that I heard that she requires a caregiver, and I am prepared to fulfill that role under the condition that I do not have to leave the house for at least two weeks, until he winds settle down at the ones they dislike, for I had told them that I was leaving town.

She agreed.

I stayed with them as a nanny. I took care of the older children, and at night, I rocked the cradle and baked bread.

Three weeks later, I went to church. This was a Sunday, and I wanted to prove that I was a faithful Christian and continued with my prayers. Along the way, my former employer met me. She asked me where I had disappeared, and I answered her that I was staying with the uncle who had written to me, and that I had my papers, but I was working at a different place, since it had been very difficult for me at her house.

I worked in my new place for six months, and nobody paid attention to me. I tried to remain in the house. I thought that I would be able to lengthen my stay in Rudnik, and to push off the burden of wandering for a while.

Once, ,the wife of the postmaster went to visit her relatives, the Golombiowski family, and there she was informed that Janika was Jewish. They said that it was clear to them, and they had proof.

She returned and told me:

“Janika, you know that we love you, and we want you to remain with us, but there are rumors about that you are a Jewess. We have to know this. We are liable to be killed for harboring a Jew. It would be different if we knew the matter truthfully, and then we would know how to behave.”

I tried again to escape. I told her that I would travel to my uncle and bring papers, etc. However, this did not help. She said with anger:

“You will not go to your uncle. I will not permit you to travel from here. You cannot go. Write him a letter, and we will see what the answer will be.”

I agreed.

The next Sunday, I did not go to church. I went to the Golombiowski house. There I hid and wrote a letter to myself from my uncle, so to speak. I took the letter out of their mailbox, so that they should know that they saw me receiving a letter.

In the letter, my uncle wrote to me, so to speak, that he does not agree to send me letters. He demands that I go to him, and stay with him. I concluded:

“I will be leaving you tomorrow or the next day.”

She went to the Golombiowski family. They made a cease-fire between themselves in order to persecute a young Jewish girl. Mrs. Golombiowski told her that I wrote the letter myself. She returned home full of anger and said:

“Now I know the whole story clearly. Whether you want to or not, tell me who you are, where you are going, the whole story. You told me that you are traveling with a farmer who is going to a fair. Tell me who he is.”

I told her the name of one of the farmers who lives, so to speak, at the edge of the village near the cemetery. I also told her that I am traveling to my uncle. She did not hesitate, and went to seek him out, in the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures that pervaded on that day, December 28, 1943.

When she returned, she told me that there was no such person. I answered her without giving it any thought:

“You are mistaken. He lives on the right side and you were searching on the left.”

She went one more time toward the cemetery. Today, I understand the situation. She wanted me. She needed me, but she wanted the matter to be quiet, so that she should not endanger herself. She apparently believed my story, but at that time, I could not understand why she was making so much effort, even hurting herself, for she could not manage without me.

When she went out the second time, I placed the infant in the cradle. I brought the table near to the cradle so it would not tip, and so the child would not fall out, Heaven forbid. I then went out to flee.

I ran the entire length of one of the streets with sandals on my feet, half-naked. I arrived at the church at the exit of the town. I hid until a sled arrived. I got aboard without even asking to where it was going.

Along the way I heard that they are traveling to Kopki that is near Krzeszow.

I got of at Kopki. I went from house to house to search for work. Everyone refused me, for my shabby appearance made them hesitate. In one place they directed me to a house where the family needed a nanny.

I entered the house and told them, may the name of Jesus be blessed, someone sent me to you to work. They informed me that you are in need of a caregiver.

“That is correct”, they answered, “show me your papers.”

I told them that I had left them in Rudnik, and that when they would go there to grind flour at the mill, I would go and get them.

I remained there to work.

Approximately four weeks later, I was traveling with my employer on the street, and behold, the wife of the postmaster of Rudnik was walking beside me. She recognized me. She began to run after us. She did not succeed in prodding on the horses. We got away and she stopped. However, when I returned home, the mistress of the home told me that a women from Rudnik was there, who was going from door to door to search for us. She asked everyone: “Where does Janika, the lean girl work”. She asked the mistress of the house if she had checked my documents. The mistress of the house answered that with regard to a young girl, this was not all that important.

She had chased after me all the way to here in her hatred.

Afterward it became known to me that the day after I disappeared from Rudnik, she informed the police and went with them to search for me from house to house.

I remained in Kopki for six months, until the beginning of June, 1944.

At that time, news reached us of the activities of the partisans in the area. Once, I went along my way across a bridge across the river. The bridge was destroyed. Some S.S. men were guarding it. They were troubled and afraid. The fear of the partisans was upon them. They attempted to stop me, but they nevertheless permitted me to cross. Their heart was no longer into the killing of Jewish children.

In June, the Russians approached the forest. I remained for another six weeks to work with my employer. The time of harvest was near, and they were in need of me.

In the meantime, the war ended in that area. The Germans disappeared, and Russians surrounded the area all the way to Rudnik and beyond.

I decided to return to Rudnik to request payment from the evil Polish woman with whom I had worked. I was going to request six months of wages.

When the wife of the postmaster saw me, she opened her mouth with a severe scolding. It was obvious to me that this was feigned anger. She shouted:

“How can you be so brazen as to show your face. You left my child and fled. You could have caused his death.”

I maintained my composure and said:

“I concerned myself with your child. I arranged it so that he would not fall out, G-d forbid. However, you made every effort to search me out in order to kill me. Now the game is finished. Please return to me the money that is owing to me. The Russians are now present, and there are no Germans who will protect you in your disgrace.”

I was silent. There were already Russians in the yard, and the captain informed me that he was Jewish.

Along the way, I met the Golombiowski's son, the one who had said that a golden statue should be erected in honor of the liquidator of the Jews. He told me that the wife of the postmaster searched for me with the help of the police the day after I disappeared from her house. He spoke to me with hypocrisy and said:

“Tell me, you are a Jewess, why did you not inform me of this?” I saved many Jewish girls in the forests.”

His self-righteousness nauseated me. I left him without answering. I ran to the Russians and informed the Jewish captain about who were the collaborators with the Germans. My list was complete. The Golombiowskis and the wife of the postmaster headed it.

This was my small revenge to the lowlife Polish collaborators.

I don't know what they did with them. The next day the captain told me to escape from town and to flee for my life from the members of the Polish Krajowa Army terrorist organization.

[Page 72]

A Girl Who Was Saved

by Chaya Stelzer (the daughter of Feivel)

After the Germans entered, there were a few months of quiet. Afterward, the order was given that all Jews should leave Szarzyna (a village near Lizhensk), and cross the San to the Russian side, where they must remain.

We went to Ulanow, the town where our aunt lived. Life was very difficult in this town. We longed for our home and our place. In the meantime the news arrived that the situation in the German sector was calm. We decided to go to our Szarzyna, as did almost all of the Jews of Szarzyna. They returned to their previous homes. However, in the meantime, the Germans brought Poles from Ukrainian areas to work for the Germans in the village, and they gave them the homes and fields of the Jews.

The Jews who returned came back to houses that were locked in their faces. Very few of the “newcomers” consented to return even one room or a small plot of land to a Jew, so that the might be able to grow some potatoes.

We managed to sustain ourselves until the end of the summer of 1942. After that, the tribulations suddenly began. The Poles started trouble and began to cut the beards of the Jews with the assistance of the Germans, or vice versa. Polczwartok, who took responsibility for all of the “Aktions” in the area, was particularly cruel. However, this was only practice.

At first, we were able to manage with the Ukrainian police. They would inform us of upcoming “Aktions” in return for small payments, and the Jews were able to hide until the danger passed. Later, they were afraid, each from his fellow. The farmers also began to have suspicions and were afraid of slander. Since they were not able to make money from our troubles, they began to take personal pleasure in the anti-Semitism and tribulations that befell us.

Once, they brought trucks and conducted a search for Jews who were hidden in various areas of the village and the environs. The Jewish refugees from the Ukraine were also stalked. In general, we would spread out all over when we began to detect the signs of a search. Everyone would flee according to his power and ability; in particular the men, who would flee to the forests of the area.

We were five girls and a mother. We hid in a house that was atop a hill. We looked out through the cracks and saw sixteen Jews being dragged by a gang headed by Polczwartok toward the trucks. This group included a mother and a young child of about four. They cruelly loaded the mother upon the truck and separated the child from her. They left him alone, and later shot and killed him.

When things quieted down and the truck disappeared with the captured Jews, we left our hiding place and ran to the forest to search for our father. He was not in the forest. He went to Szarzyna to search for potatoes to eat. The farmers told us that the he was caught by the Germans and murdered.

They later buried him near Liszna Pikala.

Other Jews of Szarzyna, including our brother, were found in the broad forests of Szarzyna. The morning after the day we fled, the Poles gathered together, headed by Polczwartok and the overseer Zawaczki, along with Ukrainians. The police and the Germans organized a search for the remaining Jews of Szarzyna. We were the first to be captured at the edge of the forest. Mother freed herself from their hands and shouted with all her strength “Children, flee!”. We fled and spread out in all directions. The rest of those captured spread out behind us. The hunters of humans were perplexed, for they did not know whom to run after. They were not able to shoot between the trees lest they hit each other. Fear prodded us along, and we escaped and hid among the tall stalks. There were places where the farmers were standing and harvesting their wheat. They threatened us with their sickles and chased us away. Nevertheless, we found refuge and disappeared from the eyes of our pursuers.

Heavy rain fell all night. We were wet and frozen. Our brother, who had hidden with several other young men in a bunker in the forest, found us in the morning. They gave us some of their food in order to restore our souls. When we regained some strength, we again separated from them. We, the girls and our mother, again returned to our uncle near Ulanow. Our brother remained and returned to the bunker.

In order to get to Korczow, one had to cross a bridge that was guarded by Germans. It was difficult to cross the bridge. We tied kerchiefs on our heads in the manner of the Christian villagers. We crossed two by two every few minutes. We mingled with the farmers who were traveling. With measured steps, we continued from there to the home of our uncle near Ulanow.

Along the way, we saw several families from Szarzyna wandering around. These included our relatives Yeshayahu Leib Stelzer and his wife, and Mottel Stelzer and his family. We remained together in the village. The joy of meeting and the pleasure of resting together did not last long.

A note came from the head of the village to our aunt informing her that all of those who were hiding with her were required to present themselves at the office of the German work camp in Zaklikow. This would have been like presenting ourselves for certain death. We decided to return to the forests. We would disappear, and perhaps in this manner we would be able to live for a while longer, or even be saved completely.

A forester by the name of Ostrowski was in charge of this forest. He was responsible for many Jewish corpses who had been murdered with his own hands. He chased after us into the forest and shot after us. He frightened us and succeeded in gathering us together and taking us to Jaroszyn that is near Gluchow-Ulanow. This was a large village, but it no longer had any Jews. We were turned over to the Germans. They showed us the way to the synagogue that served as a depot for being sent off to death.

There, murderers were standing dressed in black. Their new clothing was shiny black. They were wearing steel helmets. They beat their “merchandise” which was brought to them by the local farmers. All of the locals, even the weak and simple ones all occupied themselves with stalking. They would go through the forests armed with sticks and batons in order to search for Jews. When they uncovered their hiding places, they would gather them together in groups and transport them to the synagogue.

I must point out that they did not have to exert much effort. Their victims came to them out of their own free will. Their strength was weakened and their patience had expired due to hunger and fright. Week by week they became more dirty and bloated. They no longer sensed their bodies, for all sense of life had fled from them so to speak. They were weary of life and gave themselves over to the mercy of the executioners.

Ostrowski captured us while we were near the fire. We were sitting and waiting for the potatoes to be cooked. We asked that he let us at least finish the potatoes, but he did not pay attention to our pleas. He put out the bonfire with his feet, trampled on the potatoes, and took us away. He gave us over to the farmers. He himself went to find other victims.

The synagogue was permeated with the smell of murder. The walls were sprinkled with fresh blood and the floor was stained with clotted blood. Farmers stood near the door, two by two near their wagons. Every murdered corpse was grabbed by the head and feet and tossed by them onto the wagon, as if it were a carcass of cattle or swine. They grabbed and tossed all of those who had been shot, whether they had been shot to death, or whether they had only been injured and were still dangling between life and death.

We young children were filled with innocent curiosity. We came close to the wagons and attempted to peer into the eyes of those that were shot to see if they were our relatives or friends. I recognized several people from Szarzyna, including family members. When the wagon was filled, the victims were brought out to the forest where a communal grave had already been dug for all those that had been murdered.

In the meantime, our brother arrived. We were already prepared for death. There was no opportunity to flee. The place was surrounded by a high fence which could not be traversed at all, in particular by us in our current state, where we were tired, weakened, in despair, and drained of energy.

We were a small group who were left to wait in courtyard. In the meantime our brother gathered his strength, jumped and went over the fence and disappeared. We never heard of him again until this day. The farmers ordered us to ascend the wagon, which had returned from the forest from its burial mission. We were told to sit and wait. The Germans went in the meantime and did not return, and at this time the farmers did not know what to do with us.

At that moment, I saw our uncle Mottel Stelzer being carried out of the synagogue directly into our wagon. He was holding his side with his hand, for he had been shot. When our group was being shot in the synagogue, Mottel was shot and fell. The corpses covered him, so the Germans thought that he had been liquidated. This was night time, and he lay down all night pretending he was dead. When the farmers came to load the corpses of those who had been murdered at night onto their wagon they saw that he was alive. The separated him from the corpses and put him on our wagon to be killed again.

The wagon started to move. We were brought toward the forest, to the place of the communal grave. We were certain that there would be a German unit over there responsible for the murder aktion, and that we would be murdered there next to the open grave.

Nobody guarded us on the route to the forest. There was only the farmer who was driving the wagon, who was whipping and prodding the horses. The wagon wandered on, and we were transported inside of it as corn in the wind, without any energy and without any spirit or desire. Our uncle whispered to my mother that he would jump of shortly. He had left his wife and children in the forest. He was captured as he went out to search for bread for them. They did not know anything of him. He said that he had a piece of bread in his pocket and he wishes to give it to them. He said that they are waiting for him in the forest.

He jumped. The wagon driver did not notice anything.

I never saw him again after that.

In the forest, the farmer told us to get off. He told us women that it was not worth wasting any bullets on us, for we would certainly die of hunger.

His prophecy was almost fulfilled, for there was nothing to eat. We wandered around during the nights to search for carrots, onions, beets or other vegetables with which to sustain ourselves. We depended on these vegetables to assuage our hunger – they were our hope. However we could not find any of them. We were hungry and weary. We waited for death to redeem us. Our life was worse than death itself.

A short time later, mother died from hunger, and after her, two of my sisters. One of the two that remained also disappeared suddenly. Until this day I do not know what became of her, where she is now. I remained as a nine year old child with my sixteen your old sister.

We did not know where to go in our situation. We did not have anywhere to sleep. At night we sneaked into horse stables, haystacks and barns in order to sleep. At times, the sleep was very sweet to us and we continued to sleep amidst the warm manure until morning. Then we were captured and waited for death. The farmers were angry that we endangered them by hiding on their premises.

In the meantime, the cold of the winter set in with full force. The ice and snow caused us unimaginable distress. We wandered day and night from place to place, barefoot and almost naked, until we arrived at a village called Bielinice. We entered the house of a farmer to warm up. He did not bother us. He went immediately to call the Germans for he recognized that we were Jewish.

The Germans could not imagine that there were still Jews alive, for they had already liquidated all the Jews in the vicinity. They wondered how we two young girls managed to hide ourselves. A wagon stood by, that had already been waiting for a few hours, and we were ordered to get on board. There was a Jewish cemetery a few kilometers away, near the village of Wolka Tanewska. The farmer told us that there all of the Jews were buried, and that they were bringing us to that cemetery to liquidate us. The route went by a bridge over the Tanew River not far from the cemetery. We requested that the farmer not drive fast, for we were too weary to tolerate the movement of the wagon. He understood my thoughts and realized that I was preparing to jump and escape. He urged on the horses faster. I saw that we were nearing the bridge, and there certainly I would not be able to jump. My sister told me that she does not have the power to jump.

I jumped to freedom myself.

I went into the deep snow, and nobody noticed me. I rested for many hours, covered by the snow. I looked around the area and noticed that there was nobody there, so I got up and went. I set out for the nearest village in the opposite direction. I wandered through twisted paths until I reached a village. I presented myself as a Christian. There were houses that did not want to see me at all. My Polish was as good as a gentile's, however my black hair and torn clothes betrayed me. They asked me from where I came, where was I going. I told a different lie to each one. How could I have the energy to continue on, oh G-d how can I have the energy? But a miracle occurred.

When we were in the forest of Szarzyna, before some time, quite a while ago, when we were still several sisters and a mother, we met an elderly gentile who was chopping trees in the forests. She had mercy upon us. She felt bad for the beautiful young girls, she said, and she advised us to learn the Christian prayers. She said “This will help you, these prayers help, the prayers to the crucified Jesus”.

Now the prayers that I learned from the good old woman helped me – not in the manner she intended, but they helped me nevertheless. The gentiles attempted to determine my nationality. They asked me about the prayers and I passed the test. In particular, I was proficient in the night prayer prior to going to sleep, and thereby I was saved, for they were certain that only good Christians know there prayers, and therefore I must be a good Christian.

The women had pity on me. I slept with the animals in the barns and stables. Once I lay down to sleep in the horse stall and fell asleep. The gentile scattered the straw for the horses on top of me and covered me without my noticing. The horses ate up the straw and fodder and uncovered me. I remained there all night and left in the morning.

On rare occasions they permitted me to sleep in the houses. I asked for work from the farmers and they mocked me. In one village I came across an elderly woman with two sons who ran the farm. I pleaded with them that they should give me some work. I told them all sorts of stories about my origins and my situation. They liked me. They did not have a daughter and they took me in to take care of the cows and to do all sorts of difficult labor that was not fitting for my age. No boy of my age would have been able to withstand these difficulties. I behaved as a Christian. I made the sign of the cross every day and I went to church like the rest of the villagers.

They thought of me as a true Christian and did not suspect at all that I was a Jew. Nevertheless, they gave me the worst type of food and did not permit me to sit with them at the table.

In this village, as I recall, Jews had never lived and the Germans never hunted for Jews there even though they came in to town to purchase food or fodder. They talked to me in German; however I suspected that they wanted to expose my Jewishness so I remembered not to understand German. I pretended well, and spoke Polish in the regional manner. I was surrounded by fear daily. The old woman spoke German, for during the previous war she was in Silesia and learned German there. She redeemed me and spoke to them in their language.

In the meantime, the war ended. I was forced to continue hiding my Jewishness for several more years. I was afraid. Fear dragged me. I was used to fear, but this fear was also well founded. Who knows what they would do with an abandoned girl. What could I do. I wanted already to leave them, to return to among Jews, relatives or those dear to my heart. I looked for a pretext to explain this, and to be able to travel.

I began to ask them if they would permit me to travel and study in some institution. I told them: “I did not have a chance to study, I am a boor, and now that the war is over I want to study and gain education.” “There is no value”, I said, “to a person without education.”

They were not inclined in this manner. I found a farmer in a nearby village who agreed to support me in return for my work, and also to permit me to travel to learn. I moved over to him. Once when I was with his wife in the field, I saw from afar our field in Szarzyna. Various pictures from my past came and danced in front of my eyes. My entire life passed before the eyes of my spirit. I had various memories from a long time ago. I began to weep. The war had already been finished for two years and I still had to hide my Jewishness. A burning pain overtook me. My heat was broken, and I sighed out loud. The gentile woman noticed, and asked me why I was weeping. She did not ask me anymore, and did not say anything more to me.

When she got home, she told her husband everything. He was an officer in the secret police, and he understood what was going on. My cover was exposed to him. To him, everything was clear.

He did not say anything. The next day, he got up early and went to Bilgoraj to find out how to behave toward me, and what to do with someone who has property in Szarzyna. He wanted to know how to sell the property. By chance, a Jew worked in that office, and he asked him about why he was so interested in these fields. This was a suspicious matter in the eyes of the Jew. He did not leave the farmer go until he was forced to admit that in his house there is a young girl, and he does not know if she is Jewish or not. Her family had property in Szarzyna. The official requested that he bring her the girl. He was afraid to go to the village. I was worried about traveling with the gentile lest he have some plan against me, lest he kill me along the route. After he begged me repeatedly, I traveled with him to Bilgoraj.

The Jew spoke to me in Polish in the office, but at the first opportunity that presented itself, he spoke to me in Yiddish and wanted to know if I was Jewish. The fear which was ingrained in me for many years now did not permit me to reveal everything, however he urged me on and encouraged me to trust him, for there is no longer anything to be afraid of.

I told him everything. I opened up all the chambers of my heart. He requested that I travel with him immediately to the Jewish council in Krakow, who would arrange everything for me according to his words. I wanted to first go back to all of those who were kind to me to thank them for their kindness. I first went to the villages. I took nuts for the children, and bade everyone farewell.

In 1950, I went to Szarzyna via Lizhensk. The gentiles did not want to tell anything. It was as if nothing took place during those years. All of the Jewish homes were occupied by gentiles. They also worked the fields of the Jews.

I did not succeed in gaining much information from them. Here and there, they told me something.

I heard that the village priest collaborated with the Nazis. There was a group of young men hiding in the area until the winter of 1943. When they were already weakened and crushed without any energy for life, they hoped that the priest would help them. They went to him. When they arrived at his house, the priest began to bang the drum that was in his house. This was the agreed sign between him and the Germans that they should come to him, for he has a “find” for them. The Germans did not tarry in coming. The lined up all of the poor boys along the fence of the priest's courtyard and shot them all to death. The gentiles mentioned that for a long time thereafter, there were stains of blood bubbled forth from the snow along the entire length of the fence.

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