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In the Kolbasin Concentration Camp near Grodno

It was autumn. A few weeks went by. The Judenrat was building a large cellar in the garden square of Meyer Kremer, to collect potatoes for the coming winter. When the cellar was ready and we started to store potatoes, suddenly the gendarmerie and Gestapo troops appeared at the ghetto gates. It was early morning, 3rd November 1942. The bandits arrived led by a Gestapo officer from Bialystok. This officer and some of the soldiers entered the ghetto and ordered large padlocks to be brought and within five minutes had locked all the entries to the ghetto. They ordered the Judenrat to assemble within three minutes in the Judenrat building. No one knew what was going on. Different views were put forwards. Some thought they are going to slaughter all the Jews. Others thought there is going to be a search for arms. Still others thought the authorities are looking for Jews without living permits. But no one really knew the truth. The Judenrat assembled at the appointed time to listen to the officials. As from that day the Gestapo took over the running of the ghetto. They would introduce a new order. Within a few days all the streets would be paved and clean as never before. The announcement was for us incomprehensible and shocking. The same evening we were visited by the ghetto commissar and the Gestapo officer and demanded to surrender the whole property of the Judenrat; everything we possessed.

Given an opportunity I offered the officer to buy back two gold pocket watches. He accepted the gift for which enabled us to find out the meaning of the new orders. The officer explained that all Jews from the ghetto are going to be transported to a concentration camp called “Kolbasin” near Grodno. From there they will be distributed to various labor camps. The officer also allowed us to advise the people of the forthcoming exile.

The ghetto was surrounded by gendarmerie with heavy automatic guns. The Polish police and civilian employees of the administration kept watch on the ghetto that no one left. It was really hard to get out. For two days and two nights we were locked inside.

The news of resettlement spread like lightning through the ghetto. The population was relieved; there would be no slaughter as it happened in other ghettos.

People started preparation to move. Only a small parcel of food for two days was allowed. The departure was set for the 5th of November 1942.

Meanwhile the authorities herded more people from the neighbouring shtetl of Karitschin into the Suchowola ghetto. They all were beaten by the hooligans and the gendarmerie who had pursued them on foot for 14 km. They had nothing with them as everything was taken away from them on the road. Shattered and bleeding they arrived into the ghetto; young and old, male and female. We shared with them our food and accommodation.

One day in the middle of the night several trucks full of gendarmerie arrived in the ghetto, light beams cutting through the darkness of the narrow ghetto St.s. The Jews were ordered out of their homes; women with children in their arms, broken men, weak and tired, their dignity crushed, their minds confused. They were all herded toward the assembly place in front of the great synagogue.

The gendarmes, armed with guns ready to shoot, were pushing the Jews forwards, hitting them with the rifles. The children cried bitterly from cold and fear. At that time, there were Jews in the ghetto from many small towns and villages; from Suchowola, Dombrowa, Novydwor, Karitschin and Augustow. There were also many refugees from other places.

The assembled Jews were forced to board the waiting carts outside the ghetto, to take them to their new destination. At 7 a.m. the order came to depart. Outside there were also Polish bandits waiting, armed with rifles and sticks to attack the departing Jews. The Polish police was not satisfied with beating Jews and robbing them of their possessions, not satisfied with the pogroms during their moving into the ghetto; they never had enough. Their bestial behaviour will remain to the everlasting shame of the Polish people.

There were 850 carts divided into columns. Each column numbering 50 carts was closely guarded by armed gendarmerie. The road was patrolled by armed Gestapo men. The carts traveled in the centre of the road so the guards could detect any attempt of escape. Thus, column after column, the kilometres long procession stretched on the road to Grodno. Without stopping, the carts made up the distance from Suchowola to Kolbasin as darkness approached.

We arrived into the camp at about 10 pm. The street lights were on as we crossed the well guarded camp gates. Inside gendarmes hurriedly directed the carts to discard their load and leave through another gate. Under the open skies there were already people lying in the street; men women and children watching the new arrivals. They were already there for sometime. We shared the night with them.

In the morning we were allotted new quarters in the N. 6 block. A block consisted of ten dug-outs. Each dug-out was a sort of a long cellar with two windows and a leaking flat roof covered with soil. It had two doors and was furnished with dirty sleeping shelves. There were 2280 people from the Suchowola ghetto. Apart from the N. 6 block we were also allotted a part of N. 3 block. Each dug-out was packed with 250 people. I looked around and wondered; what other torments had the Germans prepared for us in this concentration camp?

The camp was about one square kilometre in size. There were six blocks of dug-outs separated from each other by high, barbed wire fences. There was one toilet block for both sexes and a well without water. Three blocks were built in one row and three in another. In between there was a road separated by barbed wire. Narrow paths led from one block to another. On the wider road there was a building occupied by the administration of the camp and housed three large kitchens. In the kitchen there were a number of kettles in various sizes and shapes. Within each kitchen there was one well, one toilet and a number of storage sheds.

The camp was encircled by two barbed wire fences 2.5 metres high and a 3 metre – wide space between them, filled with more barbed wire. Above the fence there were electric and telephone wires. At the four corners of the camp there were watch towers equipped with powerful reflectors, alarm bells and heavy machine guns.

At night the camp was illuminated by large searchlights to help the guards watch the movements inside it. Close to the camp there was a small pine forest and inside the forest there was the residence of the head camp overseer, the Gestapo leader and mass murderer, Rinzler. Also there were the watchmen's quarters as well as their stores. That was the general picture of the camp.

We will now describe the life inside the camp; how the murderers ordered us around. Having settled in our new quarters, we were assigned one of the kitchens for the preparation of our food. Cereals and potatoes were stored outside in the open and in winter they were often frozen and mixed with snow and mud. The cereals were of the lowest quality. We were given rations of firewood for the stoves and when it ran out and the meal was not ready we had to eat raw or half-cooked meals. The food was full of dust and rubbish. We were not allowed to peel the potatoes. One could hardly expect to survive under these conditions. It was no wonder that as result of these conditions many inmates died within the next few weeks.

The three water wells that supposed to supply water for the inhabitants were inadequate for the number of Jews in the camp. When the wells were out of order we had no water for cooking or washing. We were always short of something, either water or firewood. Life was an everlasting torment. We obtained 150 grams of bread per head. People were always hungry. They turned into wild beasts walking around, looking for something to eat. Many of the old people were searching the rubbish for rotten cabbage leaves or other semblance of food. People were trying to fight off death. They wanted to survive Hitler, that savage murderer, and take revenge.

Rinzler and Viza – the Nazi mass murderers of the Grodno Ghetto

The camp commandant Rinzler, used to walk about the camp like a wild beast with a rubber truncheon. He would stop the women in particular and beat them about the head and face; bruised and bloodstained, they were later unrecognisable. This brutal behaviour was repeated every day. One day a young man escaped from the camp dressed in a white outfit of a chef. On the road to Sokolka he was stopped and brought back into the camp. Rinzler tied up the young man, hands and legs from the back of the neck. He left the man in excruciating pain under the table for 24 hours. The man was suffocating from pain. In the morning the murderer untied him. The man could not get up because of lack of blood circulation. Rinzler ordered four Jews to dig a grave and put the man in. He then shot him. With a cynical smile on his murderous face, the dog ordered the grave to be filled in.

A certain Miss Fraidovicz from Grodno once approached the murderer Rinzler with a request. He grabbed her at the neck turned her around and shot her in the neck. Rinzler committed many murders in cold blood .

A young Jewish man, Zabludowski from Bialystok, was in hiding with Aryan documents in the house of a gentile woman in a village not far from Grodno. The woman went to register her tenant to the gendarmerie. The man was arrested and brought into the camp. He was interrogated for a number of days. Every day he was beaten with sticks by Rinzler personally. On the day before being transported, Rinzler let the man go. As soon as he crossed the threshold of the murderer's office, Rinzler shot him in the head.

A boy of eighteen was one minute late for the roll call at the square. Rinzler noticed the transgression. He called the boy and in the presence of all assembled Jews in the square and shot him in the neck. The boy fell as if he were a piece of clay. The murderer then quietly drew a cigarette from his pocket and lighted it with a jolly expression on his beastly face.

Thus, the short life of thousands of Jews was terminated by the murderer Rinzler.

Rinzler ordered the Jews to assemble twice daily in the camps court-yard: at 8 am and 2 pm. All inmates, men and women had to undergo the roll call. Having checked the number of the prisoners, he ordered them to run around the prison grounds singing Yiddish songs for an hour. If the singing was not to his liking he would savagely beat them up. When one victim fell unconscious, he would find another. He displayed an insatiable desire for Jewish blood. Jewish women in particular, stirred his sadistic nature. He beat, and tormented them with enormous zeal. Threatening them with death, he demanded the Jewish women to sweep the court-yard with bare hands, put some rubbish into their bosoms and carry the rest to the rubbish tip. Thus was our courage and will to resist was broken. Rinzler destroyed us all by means of starvation, shame, beating and finally killing.

He changed the rule for funerals. The dead should be left with their clothes on. Tied with two towels, four people would carry the deceased singing Yiddish songs, all the way to their graves. In a neighbouring forest, a large grave was prepared, where the dead were put one on top of another until the grave was full and then covered with ground.

The murderer of Kolbasin boasted that in that forest 18,000 Russians were buried, and that he had personally silenced them, and hoped to do the same to us all.

The Gestapo chief, Rinzler, was the kind of Hitler beast, who carries on his conscience the deaths of many thousands of innocent, tormented souls.

In the camp at that time were Jews from 22 different towns and villages. There were in total about 28.000 men women and children. As more arrivals settled in the camp the conditions further deteriorated. Often there was a shortage of bread. The Jewish representatives of the camp turned to the Grodno Judenrat for help. Against payment we would receive from them weekly bread and firewood. The bread was brought into the camp and then distributed. Checking the bread cart, the gendarmes would remove tens of loaves thereby reducing the rations to bare minimum. The murderers have deprived the starving people of the last slice of bread.

There was immense hunger in the camp. The murderers have found a convenient solution of that problem; they started transporting Jews to Auschwitz. They supplied us with false testimonies and falsified letters arriving from Auschwitz, to prove that people work there and are quite happy.

The first transport to Auschwitz left the camp in December 1942.

The gendarmerie and the Gestapo would arrive in the middle of the night and order the residents from one or the other town to get ready for transportation. The Jews of the mentioned township started to assemble in the camps main street carrying with them some clothing and shoes. In the rush and in the darkness people would loose part of their goods. In the confusion it was difficult to find the lost shoes or coats. I witnessed how old people, men and women well over their sixties, were driven barefoot in the snow while at the same time being beaten by the beastly soldiers. Alas, they went half dressed, barefoot with tears in their old eyes, praying in their hearts for death. Better to die than endure pain and torment. Oh, God! How can You be so indifferent!

These were dreadful scenes; the mass of wandering Jews huddling together in the dark, freezing night, the hatless little heads of the young children, some still babies, shone out of their distressed mothers embrace. Innocent young souls, their heads like little flowers swayed between the moving mass. This was a frightfully savage expulsion.

The slightest confusion in the deported mass of Jews would draw the ire of the police which would murderously beat them. They would shoot on the spot those who could not maintain the marching speed. After each transport the road would be strewn with dead, mostly old people. So were the young and the old, the men women and children half dressed, barefoot, freezing and starving, driven towards the railway station. There they were squeezed 80 to a carriage on the road to Auschwitz. The doors of the freight cars were then bolted. Many people suffocated inside or perished from hunger and cold. Thus, were our dear and loved Jews, innocent women and children, sent to the crematoria.

Merciful God! How could You watch so much suffering of your people?

The murderous police, having delivered the human freight to the crematorium, returned to their posts as if nothing had happened. They resumed again their task of torturing, tormenting and murdering. Once, the murderer, Rinzler had the idea to harness two women in ropes and race them around the camp all the time whipping them, until they dropped unconscious. For the slightest transgression one received 25 lashes, until blood was showing. Thus many a dark week passed.

On a bright winter Sunday we perceived in the camp a marching column of Grodno Jews led by the lawyer Gazanski. On his head he carried a pot accompanied by two girls, singing Yiddish songs. They were followed by a cart full of old people and children. They were all injured, lacerated and bleeding as after a battle. They were accompanied by a murderous Gestapo unit, amongst whom there was Streglov, a former white guard of Tsarist Russia, Rinzler, Schat, Heriles and the infamous mass murderer Viza. With them there were a large number of gendarmes. Immediately after he entered the camp, Viza shot a young man. The man was only wounded, so Viza ordered Rinzler to kill him.

The Grodno Jews were hurriedly given quarters. Their bitter fate was joined to that of the other inmates. There were in the camp at that time Jews from Skidel, Jezioro, Ostryn, Sokolka, Kuznice, Adelsk, Dombrowa, Novydvor, Suchowola, Janovo, Safatskin, Luna, Porencz, Druskeniki, Karitchin, Krynki, Grodno, Halinka, Kamionka, Sydra, Ratnica and Amdur.

The transportation to Auschwitz was repeated without an interval for a number of days. The Jews of the above mentioned towns and villages were transported until the camp became almost empty. One evening a drunken Rinzler arrived into the camp. He dragged the lawyer Gazanski, an honest community worker from Grodno, and the lawyer Fridberg from Sokolka together with his wife and two daughters ( one eighteen years old and the other, who just before the war arrived from Palestine for a visit), and led them to the exit gate. He put them into one row and taking the rifle from the guard, shot all the Jews, one at a time.

The closeness of the gun to the heads of the victims caused their entire disintegration. The victims were completely unrecognisable. This atrocious murder had a shocking effect on the inmates; so many new victims in one night. If that was not enough for the beast, he also dragged three beautiful girls (one was a hairdresser in Janovo) and shot them with his own gun.

That tragic evening remained in my memory forever as one of the most horrible ones I lived through.

In front of the dug-outs, on the large squares, there were all kind of utensils and clothing scattered, left by the departing Jews, as if they knew they would not need them any more. Everything was too much to carry; they had to march two kilometres to the railway station.

We were perturbed by the fact that before each transport the Gestapo would retrieve the spoons and the soap. They ordered the surrender of all the money, jewellery and gold in possession of the transportees. These were obvious signs that the transport was heading for the extermination camps.

It was, however, unimaginable. Not even in one's wildest fantasy could such an idea take shape. How is it possible to kill and burn so many people? How is it possible to destroy all these mothers and children?

And yet, this was the reality.

Heriles, the Grodno commandant said once in our camp: “One could grind through the mill ten thousand human beings and I would not bat an eye.” Alas! Where were people like this brought up? Who is responsible for sowing the seed of cruelty into the mind of a nation's youth? Is it true that in the German pure Aryan blood is concealed the bacteria of banditry and murder?

There were only 3,500 Jews left in the camp. Among them were people from Suchowola and the remnants from other shtetls, separated from their families. All others were already in Auschwitz.

The Destruction of the Grodno Ghetto

Suddenly a commission headed by the Sturmführer Schott, appeared in the camp and ordered the remaining Jews to clean up the camp. All the things left after the departure of the last transport; kitchen utensils, pillows, quilts and clothing had to be collected into one large heap. After that the Jews were ordered to form rows consisting of six people to a row and march in front of the commandant. He counted all present and ordered their resettlement to the Grodno ghetto. The new order was no great consolation to us, but we hoped that with the change of venue a miracle would happen. Perhaps we might escape the clutches of death.

We left for Grodno about the 22nd of December 1942. There were very few people there. The ghetto was considerably reduced in size. The Judenrat had very few houses to accommodate us. With great effort they managed some unheated, cold buildings for our quarters. The cold was unbearable. The exhausted Jews were swollen from hunger. We had no money to buy food as we had to leave everything with the Gestapo before departing. Gradually people passed away. There were cases of whole families dying within days. The well known family of Judel Kruzel, mother, father, and daughter all died within one week. The three members of Wolf Studenski's family passed away in one day. Thus whole families died from hunger. For weeks our fate was in God's hand, completely hopeless.

One night, about 7 pm, suddenly the light went up in the street of the ghetto. That was a signal that shortly a selection will take place for new transports to Auschwitz or Treblinka. There was panic in the streets. People were running to and fro, looking for a hiding place. My brother and I were accidentally in Peretz St. My brother asked me to lock him up in an empty store, hoping to hide there. Approaching Zamkowa St., where my brother lived, we perceived the sound of furious shooting. Immediately there were wounded people in the street. I dropped down onto the pavement and crawled on my stomach till I reached a Jewish house. I stopped there for the night. In the morning, after the shooting ceased, I hurried home to Wilenska St., where I rented had a room for my family from Mrs. Szpindler.

When I arrived there, all were already gone. The murderers had taken away my dearest ones. What happened to my brother I did not know. The “Aktion” was finished. The streets were strewn with dead people. I will never forget the picture of a mother wrapped in quilt, cuddling her two children lying in Szmuler St., close to the school. All were dead. A thin layer of snow covered the dead bodies, concealing the murderous act of God's ugly world. Many other streets looked alike. The bodies were laying scattered in the streets for several days until the Judenrat ordered them to be collected in the Szmuler St. There was no rush to bury the dead. Their relatives were obviously caught in the last transport to Auschwitz.

Within a few days the falling snow covered the city in a white blanket. Here and there, there were snow mounts formed by the dead bodies. The warm sun melted away the thin layers of snow and laid bare the dead faces to the delight of the marauding crows, chipping away the human flesh. Soon there were enough people volunteering to bury the victims.

I have seen another picture in the house of the well known Dr. Gershoni. There she lay dead on the bed. On a chair close to the bed there were empty poison ampoules and a hypodermic needle. Evidently the old woman committed suicide to escape being killed by the accursed murderers. Close to the bed a black and white kitten kept watch over the body. The kitten could not be moved away from its deceased owner. It was the only living creature to watch over the woman, after all relatives and friends were removed by the executioners.

My brother and his family managed to escape the first “Aktion”. He and another six hundred Jews found a hiding place in the Great Synagogue. Somehow the gendarmes searching the synagogue missed him lying under the cover of curtains and clothing. My brother and his family remained in the Grodno ghetto to the very last day.

After I lost my family I decided to escape. Very few people still remained in the diminished ghetto. It was dangerous to leave the ghetto. Caught outside the ghetto, the escapee would be brought back and shot in the ghetto's square. Many hoping for salvation have found death. It was imperative to plan an escape prudently and carefully. My friend Moshe Tiktin and I have decided to risk it together.

For the springboard of our escape we choose the courtyard of the Judenrat. The Gestapo used the grounds as stables for their horses. In the back wall there was a small window giving out onto the street. We entered the stables at night and carefully broke the window. We pushed through the opening and found ourselves in the garden of the military monastery in the Zamkowa St. We crossed the bridge over the Niemen, past a guard post and went off in the direction of our township, Suchowola.

It took the whole night to walk the distance of 55 km. to Suchowola. The night was freezing and we had no warm clothing. In the ghetto, a lot of warm clothing was left behind, but we did not think about it. We thought without heavy clothing it will be easier to walk and run when necessary.

In the villages and dug-outs around Suchowola

Whilst walking, during the night, we encountered many cars, but we managed to escape their attention by wrapping ourselves in white sheets and lying in the snow. We arrived in Suchowola about 5 am. We crossed a small forest close to the township, and then a small river and quietly entered the house of a good friend, the gentile Griszkiewicz. Before the war he used to earn good money working with me and I also helped him on many other occasions. It was still dark when I knocked at his doors. His mother, whom I also knew well, answered. Realizing the purpose of my visit, she fearfully ran to alert her son. Griszkiewicz opened the door and let me in. I inquired about the situation in the town and asked whether it would be possible to stay overnight. He immediately panicked and holding his head with both hands exclaimed; “What are you saying! Just today the Germans were looking for Jews! You have to leave immediately. If any of the neighbors would find out we will all be in danger, lost, they will destroy us all.”

The unwelcoming reception prompted us to leave in a hurry and return back across the river into the forest.

We were tired and hungry, but we decided to walk deeper into the forest. We arranged some fir-tree branches into a sort of a bed and laid down to rest. We slept through a whole freezing day. It was February 1943. We woke up hungry towards the evening, and immediately started to think how to get some food. We were exhausted and could hardly move. Somehow we managed to get closer to the colonist's huts and asked for bread, but they would not give us any, though we offered money.

We had no alternative but to return to Olszanka St. There the peasant, Matiskiel whom I used to know, gave us 500 gram of bread. We were very grateful, but the peasant requested that we leave immediately, as he was afraid the neighbors could see us. We asked him to allow us to stay overnight, but he flatly refused. Without his knowledge, we sneaked in through the stables into the loft where we stayed through the night. In the morning we consumed the 500 gram of bread and then waited until evening. At about 8 pm I crept out of the hiding place and under the cover of darkness I went back to the peasant and asked him for more bread. He became very agitated as he realized that we stayed on his property without his permission. He gave us no bread and demanded that we leave immediately otherwise he would inform the gendarmerie.

We had no choice. A thousand thought raced through our heads. What shall we do? Where to go? The friendly peasants whom I used to help, whom I used to show a lot of goodwill, would now not allow us to stay overnight or sell us some bread.

We left the village troubled and heartbroken. However we decided to try our luck with another peasant in the Long Village St. in our town. That very evening we went there going along the back of the houses of the above street. There we came across the son of Gaworetski, whom I knew well. He recognized me and said he was happy to see me. “How are you, Mr. Leizer? Where are you going?” First I asked him for some bread because we were hungry and then I told him where we were going. But, because I never trusted him, I indicated the opposite direction to the one we really aimed at. Whatever happened, it would be better that he should err. We never got any bread from him and we quickly parted and we hurried away to visit another gentile. This was the respectable former mayor Karbowski, who gave us as much bread as we could eat and topped it off with hot coffee. We enjoyed it immensely. However he would not allow us to stay overnight. Instead he indicated a place where we could safely spend the night.

The place was not far away close to the forest. There were old dilapidated stables abandoned by its owners. There we found plenty of straw and soon we fell asleep. The next evening Karbowski brought us more bread and coffee. He also told us that the Gaworetski's son informed the gendarmerie of his meeting us in the village. A search was ordered but they missed out on the stables outside the village. Thus we were saved by a miracle. It was dangerous to stay any longer.

The next evening Karbowski brought more food and begged us to leave that very night. We left the village at about 11 pm. having the advantage of a dense fog enveloping the village. I was beset by doubts. It is impossible to hide. However we decided to make one more attempt. About seven kilometres from Suchowola there was a farmer I knew before the war in the village of Yatshvietz. Perhaps he will allow us to stay overnight. We arrived in the village where I had never been before and did not know the farmers house. It was midnight when we suddenly came upon a group of civilians who were the watch guard in the village. I talked to them in German which frightened them thinking that we might be German secret police. They asked my friend, who spoke a broken Polish, to explain what I wanted. They pointed to the house of the Soltys (mayor of the village) whom I happened to know, and hurriedly left us. They were glad to get rid of us. Shortly we reached the Soltys' house and knocked at the door. He let us into the house and gave us food, but would not let us stay. He was afraid to shelter Jews in his home. I found out from the Soltys the address of the farmer, Turel, whom I tried to find in first place. To assist us in finding Turel's house, he sent a young peasant to show us the way through a field close to the river Brzozowka, on the border between the Sokolka and Bialystok districts. All this happened in the one night.

Through the back door we entered the farmer's house, which stood apart from the other houses in the village. The farmer would not let us stay overnight. We talked for hours, I begged him, I reminded him the things I did for him, the interest free loans, and our friendship that we valued. Nothing would change his mind. Suddenly he got up and disappeared behind the door of the bedroom where his wife was taking a rest. We overheard the discussion. After a long consultation he appeared again confirming the decision not allowing us to stay. He would supply us with food for our further wandering, but – we must not stay.

I told him that we have nowhere to go and we are going to stay with or without his permission. We rejected the offer of food and left.

The night was foggy and cold. The furious barking of the watch dogs resounded in the still of the night. The stables were approximately a hundred meters away. We approached silently, opened the door and entered. We climbed carefully on the top of the heap of straw, dug a big hole, crept inside and covered ourselves with more straw.

We hardly fell asleep when we heard someone calling: “Guys! Listen!” We recognized immediately the voice of the farmer and crawled out from our hiding place. He told us that he had a good friend who would be willing to shelter us, but because he was a poor guy he would want to be paid. We jumped full of joy; what luck! To have a place for ourselves.

The farmer supplied us with bread, lard and a bundle of straw, and advised us to spend the night in a potato dug-out, in the field.

We made a bed of straw in the dug-out and covered it with the rest of the straw and fell asleep. As soon as it began to dawn we removed the straw to look out and impatiently waited for the peasant to appear.

About midday another peasant appeared whom I did not know and crawled into the dug-out. Although we were not afraid, we felt uneasy. He questioned us how we got into his potato field. In the course of a conversation that ensued we learnt from him that he was the owner of the land around here and that he was the man recommended by Turel.

He started to supply us with food once every 24 hours, always at 10 pm. After a few days he revealed that two more young men from Suchowola are also in hiding; Layzer Marinberg and Itsche Berl Farbsztain had escaped from the Grodno ghetto the night of the first “Aktion”. The same peasant concealed them on his property. He told them about us.

The next evening they came over to our dug-out. From then on we stayed in the dug-out all four of us. In fact we were terribly squeezed as the dug-out was small about 1.5 metres square. We could not lie down so we slept in a sitting position. We paid the peasant for our food and the trouble we caused him. The shirts and underwear we changed every 6-7 weeks. We were also short of drinking water. Nothing could be brought to us during the day for fear that other farmers would spot us. To top it all, the peasant had to conceal what he was doing from his wife, as she was not very cooperative. The food he brought us was supplied by the farmer Turel. Thus we were imprisoned in the dug-out over the winter months hoping one day the enemy would suffer defeat and the Hitler banditry will be destroyed.

Finally spring arrived. Every day the sun was rising over the country side. The cattle and the sheep were let out into the field; the birds were singing sweetly in the trees, the whole world was free. We alone were confined to the dug-out like criminals without a ray of sun, without a breath of fresh spring air.

In the beginning of April our situation worsened. The peasants began to work in the field longer hours. Our benefactor was afraid he might be noticed by the other farmers while he carried our food at night. His wife always suspicious of his behaviour, watched him closely. She did not appreciate his regular disappearance at night and thought he visited young girls in the village. She would make his life a misery. She complained to the parish priest that her husband leaves her alone with her three children, for hours deceiving her with other women. Her suspicion considerably increased when she learned from a neighbour that she saw her husband every night with bundles under his arms. The situation for our benefactor took a bad turn. The parish priest summoned him to the belfry and asked him to improve his relationship with his wife. However, the man did not divulge the truth. How could he reveal that he was sheltering Jews? He would have been stoned. There were plenty of whispers about Jews hiding in the village of Yatshvietz, and the gendarmerie was once called in and searched the place thoroughly, but luckily did not find anybody.

The suspicions and multiple searches made it difficult for us to remain in our hiding place. After lengthy consultations between our benefactors it was decided to move us out of the dug-out into the quarters of a cousin of our friend, Adolf Kisla. The new “protector” was a carpenter by trade and lived with his wife Hanka, his daughter Mania and his son, Heniek who was about six years old. Adolf Kisla, a man of 48 years with a friendly smile gracing his face, was very poor. He could not afford even paying taxes. His possession consisted of a small field about four hectares, a small weak horse, a cow, a calf, a few chickens and a several piglets.

In the midst of a freezing night, Adolf Kisla moved us from the dug-out into a stony cellar that was under his house. The first night we could not sleep a wink, because of the cold and the fear that we might have been noticed by some neighbour. Two nights we spent in the cellar and afterwards we moved to one of stables owned by Kisla. In the loft of the stables we built a kind of a living quarter of approximately 2 metres long by 1.5 metres wide. The farmer brought us food once a day, always at the same time, when he fed his piglets and horse. He had to be very careful not to arouse suspicion in his neighbours.

Some time passed without any problems. Then the village Soltys (mayor), whose house was close to our hiding place, got involved with the partisans acting in the forests in the neighbourhood. He was expecting a drop of arms for the partisans and to spot the airplane he hired a local peasant to watch the skies, promising him as a reward, a cow. The Soltys did not keep his promise and the “watchman” spread the news in the village, prompting a quick response from the gendarmerie. They soon arrived and unsuccessfully searched the houses in the village. The Soltys managed to escape. We were in a panic fearing the gendarmerie would discover our hiding place. But luckily they never thought that some Jews could hide in a place fraught with so much danger. Again, we had a lucky escape.

Months went by. The farmers were busy in fields. The warm weather brought life back to the surroundings, changing it to soft green elevations. The birds were free to sing, but we were locked in the darkness of the stable without a glimpse of sunshine. We completely forgot that with the coming of spring the holiday season will soon be upon us. Turel remembered the Purim holiday and brought us fresh bread and pastry. The food brought back pictures of the recent past; Purim in our shtetl. This was a holiday in all the Jewish homes. Guests were invited, and the tables were laden with tasty food spreading the fragrance of freshly baked Hamantaschen. At the table the family was enjoying the celebrations and filled of happiness.

The Jews had survived. They celebrated the victory over Hamman the enemy of the Jews, but now… when will the murderer Hitler be defeated? Now all was lost: my dear mum and dad, my wife and child. The best and the dearest. Before my eyes I see my child and his mother and it seemed as if their hands are reaching out to me from the ovens of Auschwitz. An awful sorrow set upon my heart. It is hard, very hard to describe all the emotions, all the thoughts. No one could understand, except those who trod the same road, and survived.

Still we expected a speedy defeat of the Nazis. The farmer used to deliver every Friday the paper from Suchowola. From the paper we learnt that the Germans are retreating on all fronts. We hoped that with the end of summer we will be out of prison and liberated. This little hope gave us courage and reinforced the will to survive.

Adolf Kisla was obliged to pay taxes to the government in the form of grain, meat and money. As the set day of payment approached, we would become agitated and worried whether he could meet his commitments. In case of non payment the authorities would arrive and confiscate whatever they could lay their hands on. This could have led to us being discovered, a very dangerous situation. As mentioned above the peasant was pretty poor. The produce of his field hardly fed the family. We gave him money to buy grain to meet his obligations. We had to be careful in case the neighbours start to wonder where he got his money to pay for his purchases. We advised him to buy small quantities of wheat or borrow from his neighbours a meter of grain and later return the loan, but definitely not to divulge the money we gave him. He also owned a carpentry workshop which he could use as a source of income. With the money saved he could pay for his expenses. We helped him with keeping records of his income and his expenses; we helped him with his financial problems.

Sometime we had also to solve problems of a different nature. The authorities ordered all females fifteen and years old and over to register for work in Germany. The farmer's daughter was 15 and just eligible. But the farmer's wife complained and would not let her go whatever the consequences. We knew that in such a case the gendarmerie would confiscate all his possessions and also take the girl. We had to avert such an outcome. We must find another solution. The farmers had another married daughter who was at the time pregnant. Our plan was to substitute the older daughter for the younger. The commission interviewed the older daughter, found her pregnant and excused her from her duty. Thus we saved the farmers daughter.

Later that summer, when work increased in the field, the task of supplying us with food was taken over by the daughter we had “saved” who turned out to be like a sister to us.

The summer heat became unbearable and our hiding place was like a boiling kettle. There was little air in the loft. We could hardly breathe. We formed a hole in the roof which enabled us to look out on the free world. Particularly, on Sunday we watched with envy the young peasants, the children and old folk dressed up walking to the church, animated, and singing joyously. What price liberty? We wondered. Why should we feel so much pain, so much suffering? Though the simple folk are confined to their small land holding and know little of the world outside, they are much better off.

The summer is coming to an end but the war still goes on. The farmer started to show signs of restlessness. The money he receives might not satisfy him. Slowly the will to help is growing weaker. So far we had our linen changed every six weeks but now it was ten weeks, before we could change our shirts. Clearly our protectors lost patience. Summer came to an end. The farmer used the straw we covered ourselves with to feed his stock. Our hiding place became exposed. During the frequent visits of the gendarmes to search the village, the farmer would leave the house unattended leaving us completely unprotected.

We learnt about the Italians breaking up the axis with Germany. The news improved the farmer's mood. We were sure the Russians will soon arrive and a new life will begin. But winter descended upon us before the Russians arrived and the war continued. We had to remain in the stables and attempt to survive the severe Polish winter without warm clothing, without enough straw to keep us warm. The cold dark winter nights were upon us. The farmer, although sympathetic to our needs, could not help us.

The days were becoming shorter. The short daylight made it hard for us to delouse our shirts and underwear as we used to do every day. But we had to do it disregarding the freezing temperatures as the biting of the parasites was unbearable. We forced ourselves to stand naked in the freezing air for hours and having our meals in the darkness (it was already dark at 3 pm). We got used to handling the food containers with great dexterity. We became indifferent to the hardship of the winter nights and days. The thought of surviving was always in our minds. With a bitter heart we fought for our lives. We stopped smiling. Any semblance of joy disappeared from our faces. We learnt to move carefully in the darkness like cats, to handle soundlessly the spoons and forks. The chill penetrated our bones but did not reach our minds. The hope that Hitler will be defeated in the coming spring maintained our spirit.

Spring arrived again and the fields were clear again from the white snow. Patches of green appeared among the dirty thawed ice. The birds came back into our loft. Their songs and whistles accorded us a new lease of life. The days were growing longer and brighter. Slowly everything is waking up from the long winter sleep. In the streets peasant women play with their children. It is becoming warmer. Everything is alive again. Only our dearest and beloved ones have passed away for ever. Dead. There is no resurrection for them. They are resting under the many layers of soil. The God-blessed sun is powerless to warm or resuscitate the murdered millions.

During the winter months the lazy frost- shy gendarmes hardly visited the villages except in emergency situations. But with the arrival of warmer days the fat gendarmes appeared again. Again searches and raids became features of our lives. Our farmer has lost any hope that the war will end, and that he would get rid of us. We used all our power of persuasion to convince him that it will soon be over and we will reward him with everything he desired. His wife seldom came to see us. Beside his daughter, Mania, who was delivering the food, hardly anybody visited us.

One morning we notice a child's head trying to push through the door. It was our benefactor's 6 year old son, who was searching for a suitable stick to use as a fishing rod. He was unaware that we were hiding in the stables. Trying to avoid him we moved further into the loft. Hearing the sound of our movements the boy got frightened and quickly disappeared. We feared the worst. He might raise an alarm in the village that would bring to an end all our hopes. After a while the boy came back with his father telling him that he heard some wild beast up in the loft. The father brought him along to introduce us. Since then we became good friends. The boy helped delivering our food and often brought us extra drinking water, particularly when it became very hot. Later, he would help us out whichever way he could.

Our mood was improving. The news reaching us was very encouraging. The front is moving westward, chasing the Nazis out of the country. Our liberation is getting closer.

The farmer brought us tragic news. In the forest near Suchowola two Jews were caught and shot on the spot. They were both tailors from our town. They were informed upon by the Soltys of Leshniki village after they asked him to sell them some bread. They were Baruch Babri and Sholom Berek.

The news caused us considerable pain. Two young men, who endured so much hardship somewhere in the forests for so long, became victims of undiminished hatred.

We decided to stay put in our loft. The news was scarce. There were no partisans in the vicinity. We could not communicate with anyone. We could not trust the Poles for fear of being denounced. We heard the shooting during the day and the cannonades of heavy artillery at night. We could see clouds of smoke from the burning villages around. We could hear the sound of planes breaking the stillness of the night and the explosions of bomb somewhere close by.

We are almost sure we shall soon be free. The farmer brought us more news; the Russians are in Volkowysk, in Grodno, and soon they will liberate us. The farmer brought the joyous news with true sincerity. He really wanted to see us free. After all, he has done for us all he could, despite being poor; lived in fear and risked his family's and his own life for long fourteen months of our hiding. The cannonades increased in strength from day to day. It became clear for everyone that liberation is very close. We could expect the Russians any time.

Suddenly the Germans appeared in the village and advised the Soltys that German army units would set up quarters there the next morning. The news struck our benefactor like a lightning. He was very upset and did not know how to react. There was little time to consider the situation. Soon our farmer's cousin arrived and together we decided that we have to leave our hiding place immediately. There was no other choice; tomorrow could be too late.

The farmer brought his field cart into the stables. We lay down on the floor of the cart, they covered us with straw and on to camouflage the load and the farmer placed on us a heavy barrow. He took us to the place where we had spent the last winter in a dug-out. This time we stayed in the cornfield until nightfall and then we moved under the cover of darkness into the attic of the stables of the cornfield's owner. There we spent the next few weeks, always being vigilant and careful not to draw any attention. We were afraid in particular, to be discovered by the farmer's wife, who was not aware of our presence in the stables and, being on bad terms with her husband, could easily denounce us to the gendarmerie.

From our place we could observe the surroundings. Everyday we saw clouds of burning villages, a sure sign of fighting in the vicinity and the nearing of the front.

The farmer visited us every few hours with news about the fierce fighting. The Russians are advancing very rapidly; now 15 km. away, now 10 km, with cinematographic speed.

The farm where we were hidden, was about one hundred meters from the stream Berezovka, on the border between the Sokolka and Bialystoker districts. Suddenly a group of Germans appeared. Several officers went down to the stream, checked their maps and quickly disappeared. Another group of German soldiers came along and instantly started to drive the cattle from the field towards the village of Disiltovo.

We gathered from the actions of the German troops that their army is in retreat.

This must have been the last stages of the war. There was panic in the village. The peasants tried to rescue some of their herds, but any attempt to prevent the Germans pillaging the countryside was met with harsh measures. The air resounded with repeat gunshots and many of the peasants had to run for their lives.

That evening we were advised by our farmer that the Germans have set up their defense line on the river. The situation took a turn for the worse. We were in danger of our lives. It was hopeless. We were so close to liberation and suddenly – destruction. We begged our farmer to help us across the river that very night before the Germans would arrive. He knew the crossing places, the depth of the water, the safe passages. He promised to help, but did not show up that night. When he arrived in the morning, it was too late. The Germans were everywhere. We knew the villages around and exactly which of them were being set on fire. The villages around our home town also suffered the horrible fate. That evening the bridges across the river were destroyed as well as the monastery in the town.

The Germans reinforced their defense line along the river. There was no way out but to sit and wait for the worse, for death.

Next morning we got almost no food from our peasant. He thought that everything was lost. A mistake was made and there was no going back. Through the holes in the roof we could see the Russians on the other side of the river. For a while the battle lines were set. At night there were troops movements, strategic positioning of army units. There was shooting all night long. Its intensity was increasing by the day.

In the first days of fighting the population stayed in their homes. Later people were ordered to evacuate. We learned the latest news from our farmer who brought a supply of food; 2000 grams of bread, a slice of bacon and a jug of water. He promised to return at nightfall and left. A few days passed and our farmer did not show up. There were hardly any civilians in sight. Slowly we realized that the changes were due to the evacuation of the population. We also heard the shrieks of the abandoned cattle, unfed and unwatered. The fighting grew fiercer with the passing hours. All through the night the sound of flying missiles was assaulting our ears with ever increasing force. The roof over the stables looked like a large perforated sieve. Suddenly the stables were flooded with light.

The food started to run out. There, we were the four of us with very little food or water. We were in danger of death, the result of continuous starvation. The future was grim. The little that was left could not last for long. Our ration was 20 gram of bread per day. Hunger set in. The Russians increased the cannonades. The mine-throwers incessantly rained upon the German lines.

Our comrade Marinberg started to swell from hunger. The other, Moshe Tiktin, was lying unconscious, unable to move. How long can we last without food? Nine days have passed. On the tenth day we attempted to milk the cows that strayed into the stables. My friend Farbsztain and I climbed down from the loft and managed to obtain one litre of milk. We enjoyed it immensely after nine days with only a small scrap of bread and without anything to drink.

We managed to milk the cows twice more. The shootings have killed most of the cattle. It was hard to obtain some water to drink. Death stared in our faces. We looked like skeletons. The skin stretched on our faces, dark unshaven, the frightened look of my friends seemed as if they were demanding something of me. And yet they awoke in me more courage. No! I will not be defeated by hunger!

Meanwhile we hear the voices of the wounded soldiers; “Hans, rette, rette!” The voices of the victorious Russian soldiers; “hooray. hooray!” The hoarse voices of the German officers throwing orders at the escaping masses. The shooting increases – getting closer all the time. We hear the orders; first line, second line.

We are caught by the Germans and almost perish before Liberation

We thought that the Russian would occupy our colony in the morning for certain. As it turned out in the morning we heard the Germans digging around the walls of the stables. They are not giving up as yet. The hunger and thirst drive us crazy. I felt we would perish. I decided to go first and fetch some water for my dying friends to sustain whatever life was left in them. The well was about 15 meters away from the stables.

At dawn we hear the stable doors creaking. Through a mall hole in our hiding place we noticed a young German soldier creeping towards the ladder leading to the chicken coop. He picked some eggs and left. Since then he visited the coop daily until one day he found no eggs in the coop.(The chicken dispersed as a result of the constant shooting outside) The German thinking the chicken moved elsewhere in the stables, started searching around. We were hiding, each of us separately, in different parts of the stables. My friend Marinberg not realizing what happened moved inadvertently, producing some noise. Hearing that noise, the German thought that he found the chickens and immediately jumped in that direction. He sunk his hand into the straw but instead of a chicken he grasped my friends head. Frightened by the discovery, the German jumped back and screaming: “comrades, the Russians are here!” and pulled out his revolver. In answer to his alarm more soldiers came running with their machine guns at the ready. I realized the frightful situation immediately and jumped from my hiding place calling out to the Germans; “Kameraden, wir sind nicht Russen. Habt keine Angst!” (Comrades we are not Russians, do not fear!) All my friends came also out of the hiding places.

We looked half dead and after 17 months talking in whispers we could hardly raise our voices. Our speech plainly lost its sound. This happened at 4 a.m. on the twelfth day of the battle for our colony.

We were immediately surrounded by a detachment of soldiers who started to interrogate us. We admitted to being Polish. When asked what we are doing in the stables, we said we did not know about the evacuation order. When asked why we remained in the stables, we said we were afraid of the great shooting outside. After the interrogation they gave us some food and drinks.

The highest rank in that unit of soldiers was a non-commissioned officer. He wrote something on a scrap of paper and ordered one of the soldiers to lead us to the officer who was stationed in the forest, about 4 kms. away. We were ordered to leave immediately because the Russians could spot us with their powerful field-glasses. There was a Russian sniper unit close which could easily pick us up.

While on the march we talked with the guard who displayed some knowledge of the Polish language. He treated us to some cigarettes. Any thought of escape that we might have entertained, quickly disappeared.

Before we reached the forest, we were stopped by soldiers patrolling the area. Our guard explained his errand and we continued towards the forest.

We finally arrived to the officer's quarter. Here we formed a row, while our guard reported to the officer that he brought four Poles who were unaware of the evacuation order. The officer looked us over and ordered us to sit on the ground. We remained there sitting for hours. The soldiers handed us food and drinks and we consumed the lot, being convinced that soon we will be shot.

At midday we noticed two soldiers marching past carrying spades and enjoying themselves. We exchanged glances as if to say; 'This is the end, they are digging graves for us, our minutes are counted.”

At four in the morning a soldier approached and asked me to help him water his horses. I left with him. Returning I found my friends still sitting in the same place. The officer and the soldiers, having consumed a substantial amount of alcohol, left to join the fighting which took place not far from where we were. After a while the came back smeared in mud and dust with a Russian prisoner among them.

The officer related about his heroic achievements. Close to the village of Karpowice, they attacked a Russian bunker, strangled a Russian major and five officers and soldiers and took one prisoner. Having finished telling his story, he drank some more schnapps with a snack, set the prisoner on a bicycle and dashed off with him to army headquarters.

When he left, the others of the assault group recalled their friends killed or wounded in the attack. From their conversation we learnt that the two soldiers with the spades that we thought were going to dig our graves, have actually dug a hole for refuse.

We were taken in the evening to a colony close to the village Tsalistowo and kept there under guard. We spent the night in the open but could not sleep a wink. We shivered in the cold and worrying ourselves to death. A soldier, who knew Polish considerably well, stuck onto our friend Farbsztain, who spoke little Polish and asked many questions, demanding correct answers. The soldier suspected him of being Jewish and threatened to beat or shoot him if he did not admit it. He went on all through the night until finally I intervened and asked him to stop pestering us. I said to him that even the Germans would not persist so long, but you our brother a Pole, as we all are, would not let us rest. My words had the right effect, so he reluctantly stopped.

Somehow, we managed to survive the night. In the morning, about 8 a.m., we were escorted by two soldiers to join a working detachment in the village of Klewianka, some distance from Ganiondz. There were thirty peasants in the detachment, located in a building, under heavy guard. Among the guard was a Ukrainian soldier, who stuck again to our friend Farbsztain and would not let go. We were depressed not knowing how to get rid of the Ukrainian. Luckily Farbsztain could now appeal to the peasants, with whom he had business dealing before the war, to intervene on his behalf. They told the Ukrainian that Farbsztain was not Jewish.

Thus we had another escape. The Germans did not divide prisoners into Jews and non Jews, because they simply did not know.

Our task was to bury the dead at the battle line close to Karpowice. We marched 30 kms. there and back to the front line; worked through the night and returned at midday back to the village. Sometimes the Russians spotted us and opened fire in our direction.

Once, very early in the morning we noticed the German hurriedly folding up their camps and loading their cars and carts. It was obvious they are ready to move their positions. They were driving all the equipment towards Osovietz. They dragged us along with the camps. In the darkness of the night we could see fires everywhere. The Germans set on fire everything, they encountered on the road. The road was packed with armour and military camping gear. It was very unpleasant when we arrived in Osovietz. We thought the front would stabilise there for a while; they used the river to resist the Russian for fourteen days but now, having encamped in the fortress of Osovietz, it seemed the Germans have dug in for a longer period.

We started thinking of escape, but it was very dangerous with everything burning around and the place teeming with the military.

Our unit stopped in Brzozovo-Wolka. In that unit there were with us two peasants whom we knew. They were assigned to us to dig defensive trenches for the motorized units. With them we started to hatch plans of escape.

The Russian intelligence planes discovered the new German positions and bombarded them to smithereens. The Germans had to abandon the fortress and move again in a different direction. We found it difficult at that time to escape. The Germans marched us along with them, as the carriers were packed with soldiers. We marched together with the two peasants for about two kilometres. After that they realized being in our company could endanger their lives, so they separated from us.

We were left, the four of us, in one of the colonies, not far from a forest, in the village of Brzozova-Wolka. There we found a cobbler by the name of Babzik, whom we knew and who owned a small house in the village. Farbsztain and I took up quarters in the attic of his house, and Tiktin and Marinberg in the corn sheaves in the fields.

The cobbler's wife sympathized with us, although she knew we were Jews, but could not feed four more people. Furthermore there were many refugees from the surrounding villages, which were set on fire by the retreating Germans. We were used to go without food for a while. Our problem was not to be denounced by the many refugees, among whom there was a number of murderers, who had on their conscience many Jewish victims. After spending 14 days in the colony, an order was issued for all inhabitants to leave their homes. This decree hit us like a lightning. The only free road left was to Jedwabne and Stucin. It was a district we were not familiar with. We knew though that the area was settled by Polish peasants infamous for their bloodthirsty hatred of Jews. They committed the most barbarous killing of Jews in the towns and villages in the surroundings, like Rajgrod, Grajovo, Stucin and Ganiondz. In these places the Jews were annihilated in mass by the most terrible murders and unheard-of atrocities.

However, we had to move away. We decided to break up in pairs and try our luck in a smaller group. Farbsztain and I parted from our friends with tears in our eyes, going in different directions. Towards evening we arrived in the village Oportovo. There we met an elderly peasant, who allowed us to spend the night in the attic of his house. In the morning his wife supplied us with food. However, as soon as she realized that we were Jews, she refused to feed us or let us stay the following night in her house. Her refusal destroyed us completely. My friend, Farbsztain, was shattered. He feared his pale unshaven face could arouse suspicion. I used my shaving gear to trim his beard and make him look less suspicious. I also tried to console him and allay his fears. Silently we decided that we must part. Tragically without a word spoken and a lump in our throats we bid good-by to each other, and went off in different directions. Whatever happened to him I never found out.

Not far from the village I found myself between two forests. I went on marching not knowing where to go. Out of the forest I noticed a young girl working in the field. I had on me a jacket made of a Polish army uniform. At a distance noticed on the road a military cart traveling in my direction. I turned around and approached the girl and started to talk to her. She told me that they were removed from Osovietz and now she stayed in a colony. The German cart came closer and stopped alongside. It was driven by a soldier and filled with tomatoes on top of which a non- commissioned officer was sitting. I pretended not to see them and continued my conversation with the girl. The officer addressed me with a number of questions; “Who am I? What do I do here? Where do I come from? Any documents?” I told him I am a Tatar, I have no documents, we were ordered to leave the village I lived in, because the Russian occupied it, I got the jacket from a peasant and I am going to Wonses, a small town not far away. The officer patiently listened to my explanations and then asked how come I speak German so well. I told that during the First World War, there were many Germans in our district and I studied in a German school. After that he invited me to travel with him on the cart. I instantly decided to agree in order not to arouse any suspicions. I climbed onto the cart and “my friend” asked whether I am hungry. After I answered in the affirmative, he gave me four tomatoes and some bread, which I slowly consumed. I had to maintain an appearance of calm: I had nothing to lose, I did not fear death, I had looked into its face too often.

After a short ride, the cart turned to the left into a forest. There was a German army camp; many soldiers were busy with their tasks. There was a table and chairs between the trees. On a bench there was a basin in which a half naked man was washing himself. My companion reported to the half naked man that he brought along a Tatar, a Pole, who could be used for work.

The man asked to wait until he finished washing and then report to him again. It took an hour by the time he finished grooming himself. He then repeated all the questions I have already been asked by the officer, checked the answers with the ones I have given to my companion and let me off the hook.

The next morning I was transported to a Labor camp in East Prussia, where I remained until 28th of March 1945, when I was freed.

After liberation I traveled the world in search of a place to settle, and to find a new home.

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