Holocaust Survivor Maurice Moore Testimony

  Go ahead and read it.
Can you read it?   I can read this.
I was going to read this part.   Go ahead.   Okay.   My name is Mary Kasdan.   Today’s date is September 22, 1995.   Conducting an interview
with survivor Maurice Moore,   who was born Miodownik.   The interview is being conducted
in Cypress, California, USA   in English.   My name is Mary Kasdan.   I’m conducting an interview
with Maurice Moore   here in Cypress, California, USA
on September 22.   Go ahead?
Okay.   Would you tell us your name at birth,
and the spelling?   My name is Maurice Moore,   and I was born in Warsaw,   July 15, 1923.   How do you spell
Maurice and Moore?   M-A-U-R-I-C-E
M-O-O-R-E.   Okay. What was your name at birth,
and would you spell it for us?   My name in Poland   was Moniek Miodownik.   Would be spelled
M-O-N-I-E-K   M-I-O-D-O-W-N-I-K.   Did you have any nicknames?   No.   You were born
in Warsaw, Poland.   – Warsaw, yes.
– And your age now is?   Now I am 72 years old.   Would you like to tell us about
the slight confusion about your age?   The slight confusion?
I have no idea.   For some reason–   I don’t know if I am right,
or the records of the camp   that I received
just a few months ago   while I was there in Auschwitz.   To be honest with you,   after the war,
I just ideally said   I was born July 15, 1923,
and I kept it up.   What did the records
from the camp say?   The record says
that I was born in August   of 1925.   I really don’t remember.   Could you tell us a little bit
about Warsaw when you were a child?   Your view of it, how big it was.   I remember
when I was a very little child,   we used to live in Warsaw
in a non-Jewish neighborhood.   When I reached school age,   my father and mother sent me
to a religious school–   a religious day school–
where we learned   half a day English
and half a day Hebrew.   By 1936, the conditions–   political conditions
and anti-Semitism   was so pronounced,   and it was almost dangerous
to live in a non-Jewish neighborhood.   We moved
into a Jewish neighborhood,   next to where
my grandmother lived   on Lefky 34.   Now let’s go back.
Let’s see, 1936,   and you were born in ‘23,
so you would have been 13 at that time?   – I don’t remember that age.
– About 13, 11 to 13.   Most likely, yes.   Before that,
what was it like going to school?   Was there a lot of anti-Semitism
at that time?   Every morning, we used to fight.   The Polish boys used to tell me
that the Jewish boys killed their god.   That’s what the priest told them,   and as a result, they were angry,   although we grew up together
and we were friends.   And all of a sudden,
things changed.   When they started going to school,
and we got stopped going to school,   things changed entirely,
and we were no more close friends.   Although we were
at times friends.   We fought a little
and we were friends a little,   and at the time
it went by that way.   From the beginning of school?   From the school, yeah.   When I was like seven, eight,
nine, 10 years old.   When you say you were friends at times,
you mean you played together?   No, but we would play football,
you know.   Soccer was the big thing.   Every boy in Poland
used to play soccer.   Tell me a little bit about the school
that you went to.   – When I was a child?
– When you first started school.   It was a real wonderful school.   All the children were Jewish,
and the teachers were mixed.   Polish sessions
we had Polish teachers.   Hebrew teachers,
naturally, were Jewish rabbis.   It wasn’t like a modern Hebrew school
that we know of now.   It was a Torah learning session.   How to read and interpret
and learn Hebrew,Chomesh.  How to pray
and laws and so forth.   That was the Hebrew education
that we received.   Were these rabbis
on the faculty of the school?   Yeah.
These were faculty rabbis.   This was their profession.   They were professional teachers.   What languages did you speak
at home and at school?   At home,
we spoke Yiddish and Polish.   But my parents spoke Russian   because my mother went to school
when the Russians occupied Poland.   She was educated
in Polish and Russian and French   and Yiddish and Hebrew.   They were quite the educated people.   Tell me a little bit more about that,   how she went to school
when the Russians occupied Poland.   My parents did.   – Both of them?
– Yeah.   Before the end
of the First World War,   Russia was in Poland.   Poland was not
an independent country   until 1918.   My mother was born in 1900,   so her school years
were during that time.   That’s the reason
she went to Russian schools.   But they also taught Polish.   What languages did you learn?   What languages
did you learn?   Learn in Poland?
In school?   Just Yiddish, Polish
and part Hebrew,   I mean, a substantial amount
of Hebrew.   Is that what you spoke at home,
as well?   Only Yiddish and Polish.   My parents spoke Russian   only when they didn’t want the children
to understand.   Eventually we learned Russian
because it’s very close to Polish.   You said your father
was a very religious man.   Could you tell us a bit about that?   What organizations he belonged to,
what rabbi he followed.   He was a–   In the jargon of Jewish,
you’d call him a Hasid,   which is a member
of a certain group of people   that go and support a certain rabbi.   His rabbi was from a city
called Kazimierz,   so he was called
a Kazimierz Hasid.   That Kazimierz rabbi used to live   a few buildings from where we lived,   so we were always in walking distance
to that particular rabbi.   We prayed in his synagogue,   and we spent holidays there
in prayer.   My father supported him
just like all the other Hasidim   supported his particular rabbi.   Every Jew that was a Hasid in Warsaw
had his own personal rabbi.   When you say Hasid, you don’t mean
necessarily a Hasidic Jew?   Yeah, exactly.
A Hasidic Jew.   – An Orthodox Jew?
– An Orthodox Jew.   That’s exactly what I mean.   Did you go to him with problems?   To the rabbi with any problems?   I didn’t have any problems.
I was a young kid.   I went to this rabbi
because my father went to him,   and the children usually went to shul
where their father went.   Did your father go to him with problems
that he might have in daily life?   I’m not aware of it.   Was your mother religious too?   My mother
was a very beautiful lady.   She was very educated,
very well educated.   She was running the house.   And she was socially involved.   I am not familiar with what she did,   but she was active
in various organizations.   At that time,
I was too young to be aware   of what the type of organizations
she belonged to.   Probably organizations
that are also,   I would say, Hasidic leaning.   On the very traditional Jewish way.   Almost everybody in Warsaw–   The majority of people
were Orthodox.   So, she was also the same.   She was raised that way.
That’s the way she was.   Did she go to the synagogue often
like your father did?   She went to the synagogue.   Was it actually a synagogue
the rabbi had or was it his house?   It wasn’t a synagogue.
It was like a house.   The living room was a room
that we did the prayers.   It was a large living room,
and that was like a private shul.   Did your father belong
to any other organizations?   I think he was a member
of a Orthodox political party   which is called Agudat Yisrael.   It’s a very well known organization.   It’s still in existence today.   And you?
Were you in any organizations?   I was not.
I didn’t belong to–   You went to school
until you were how old?   How old were you
when you left school?   I would say about 14.   What did you do then?   While I was going to school,
I worked part-time   in a printing and rubber stamp
company that was right–   our neighbors had the company–   and I was working there.   I was delivering things.   I was doing all kind of chores.   They used to give me five dollars a week
for part-time work.   It was handy money.   Naturally, I gave it to my mother
because I didn’t need any money.   And your father’s work?   My father, I’ll tell you,
most of the time he wasn’t home.   He was in the fields.   His work required him
to be outside the home.   He was buying fruits
off the trees by ranchers.   And when the fruit ripens–   He had people
watching the ranches.   When the fruit ripens,
he organize it to bring it to Warsaw   and sell it to wholesalers.   The reason he did that
is he was ashomer Shabbosperson,   and he needed to do something   that will allow him
to be ashomer Shabbos.  Then on Fridays,
you also stopped working?   Stopped doing whatever you did?   Friday was a busy day home.   My mother used to bake challahs,
make gefilte fish.   Everything was made from scratch.   It was like a holiday.   So that was enjoyable?
Fond memories?   Do you have fond memories of that?   Very, very important.
Everything was made at home.   The cakes, the fish,
the challah, the chicken.   Whatever she made was home-cooked.   Do you remember having any goals
or dreams as a young person   when you were working
in the print shop   after you left school at 14?   What did you think was ahead of you?   I’ll tell you about it.   The situation in Poland was so   that almost every Jewish young man,   being aware of situation
that we lived at the time was–   Our dream was to go
either to Palestine, at the time,   or to the United States.   Almost everyone had   some member of his family
in America.   We had very good news
that in America   you can live a freer life.   A life of equality.   You don’t have to worry
about being Jewish   or being beaten up
if you go in a neighborhood   other than a Jewish neighborhood.   Also the economic situation in Poland
was not exactly the best,   so Jewish boys usually dreamed
of going to America.   That included me.   Did your family ever talk
about possibly leaving?   No. My father
had a cousin in America.   That gave us a little bit of an idea.
In New York.   What about when you started
to hear about trouble in Germany?   We knew about trouble in Germany
when I was 10 years old.   There was always things
happening in Germany   because a lot of Jewish people
from Poland   used to emigrate to Germany   in order to get jobs there
or be in business there.   So we knew exactly–
And Germany bordered Poland.   When these various conditions
happened in Germany,   we were very well aware
what’s happening in Germany,   to the Jewish people especially.   When did it start
affecting your life?   – Was it as early as 1933, or later?
– 1935.   And what happened in ’35?   We moved
to the Jewish neighborhoods.   – Because the anti-Semitism was bad?
– Yeah, it was very bad.   Did you voluntarily move then
to the Jewish neighborhood?   Yeah, sure.   Was this the ghetto yet?   No. It was just
a Jewish neighborhood.   Just like here would be Fairfax.   Did you go from one apartment
to another?   – Is that how it worked?
– Yeah, we just left one apartment.   In Poland,
you used to buy apartments.   You used to sell an apartment
and buy an apartment.   It wasn’t really your property,
but it was like rent control.   If you pay $200 a month,   whoever you sold it to
also paid $200 a month.   They had a reason why to pay.   Key money, they used to call it.   I remember that.   How was the rise of Nazism perceived
in your family and community?   What did you think was happening?   Most of the people that we knew–   We were praying
forMashiachto come.   But practically,   people were really concerned.   And the Pollocks,   they acted
as if they would be the Germans.   So we were afraid.   When you say they acted
as if they would be the Germans–   Yeah. When a Jewish person–
especially when he was bearded   and he had the outfit
of a religious Jew–   when in a non-Jewish neighborhood,
he was attacked.   His beard was shorn off.   He was beaten up by hooligans.   Not 100% of the Polish
population acted that way,   but a lot of people
were anti-Semitic.   Did all the Jewish businesses   move into these Jewish
neighborhoods then?   – People took their businesses–
– Jewish businesses, no.   The business owners–   They were the owners
of the business,   but the people that worked for them
were non-Jews.   They ran the businesses
in the non-Jewish neighborhoods.   It wasn’t a direct
one-on-one relationship   where a Hasidic Jew
was in front of a business   in a non-Jewish neighborhood.   It was non-Jewish people
were running the business.   Not all the Jews in Poland,
in Warsaw, were Hasidim.   They were very much Westernized.   The business people
were a different group of people.   Especially people
in the retail business.   People in banking and in insurances.   They were entirely different.
A different group of people.   In what way?   They wore modern, Western clothing.   They were shaved.   They wore tie, shirt and ties.   They were just like Americans now.   They were
a different class of people.   Not everybody was Hasidic
or wore a beard   in Warsaw.   But they were still the targets
of anti-Semitism?   They couldn’t be recognized
so easily.   A Jewish person that had a beard,   and he had these
dark black clothes on,   he was easily identified,
so he was beaten up.   It wasn’t like a revolt
against the Jews.   But almost every day,   some Jewish people in Warsaw,
in certain neighborhoods,   were attacked
because they were Jewish.   What did you dress like?   – Your father dressed as an–
– Westerner.   I didn’t want that.   I was dressed like now.   What do you remember
about September 1, 1939?   September 1, 1939   was the first day
the Germans attacked Poland.   Planes were over Warsaw   with scattered bombardment.   Not very heavy.   There was the mobilization
right away.   Germany started marching
into Poland.   They marched all over Poland
in maybe eight days.   They were in the outskirts
of the city of Warsaw,   and then the military decided that
they will defend the city of Warsaw.   The Germans encircled the city
of Warsaw with artillery   and were shooting down
into the city.   They were shooting down
into the city.   That was the third week
of September in 1939.   And that’s where
my tragedy happened.   Will you tell us about that?   Yeah. There was an artillery shell   fell into the building
that we lived in,   on the first floor,
sending down the floor   completely into the basement.   All my family
and many other neighbors   were in the basement at night.   Because they told us
to go into the basement   because they were bombarding it
from airplanes.   But the bombardment
was not from airplanes.   They were from artillery.   And they sent down the floor.   As a result, my parents   and one of my brothers,   including many members of my family,   totaling 17 people of my family   got killed
in that particular basement.   But my grandmother   that was also in that basement
was not killed.   The reason was
that she was in a pocket   where she could get air.   Most of the people died
because of lack of air.   They suffocated.   My brother and I were
on the third floor of the building,   where we lived,
and we didn’t even know that   because there was no explosion.   So when we got down there,
early in the morning about 6:00,   the neighbors
that were not affected   did not want to believe
that we were not with our parents   and told us what happened.   We were in charge of digging out
the people from the basement.   We were putting them out
on the yard,   on the courtyard of the building.   Two of my uncles survived–
my mother’s two brothers–   and my brother and I.   The four men.   Each member of the family   had to bury
their own members of the family   that got killed
in that particular basement.   That happens in many basements
in the city of Warsaw.   Not only
in the Jewish neighborhoods,   but in the non-Jewish neighborhoods
as well.   They weren’t killed
because they were Jews.   It’s just the fortune of wars.   The artillery was not flying.   It was on hillsides around Warsaw
when they sent these shells in?   Was it on hillsides,
or was it in the air?   The artillery came this way.   Was it from planes?   No. Artillery.   All around Warsaw.   They circled the city of Warsaw,   and the artillery were shooting down
into the city, just everywhere.   We had to bury our own dead   because, at that time,   nobody wanted to accept
Polish money.   Even if you had the money,
you couldn’t get anybody to work for it.   So we had to take our own cadavers   and put them on push carts,   and taking the push cart to the Warsaw
cemetery, Jewish cemetery,   digging a common grave.   We dug a grave for 37 people   from our building,   and we buried them
according to the Jewish law   as a group in their clothes.   That was the first experience   that I had in the war
of a personal nature.   What went through your mind
when you were burying your family?   We were like frozen.   My mind wasn’t functioning.   I had just to do things   because these were the things to do.   There was no past.
There was no future.   There was just the present.   What do we do now?   After we buried our dead,   we were sitting shivah,
according to the Jewish customs.   The whole building
was sitting shivah.   It was a tragedy
of enormous proportions.   We lost our most important people.   Thank God Grandma was alive.   She took care of us,
my brother and I.   She cooked for us.
She baked for us.   She was a mother all over again.   This is what happened
September of 1939.   Did the rabbi that your father followed
survive that bombardment?   I personally didn’t meet him   after that day.   I did not go there.   I was very much hurt   because we always were thinking   that good people
that do good deeds,   and good things
should happen to them.   I wouldn’t consider that as a good thing
that happened to me.   I really almost denounced   the religiosity.   I wasn’tfruhmanymore.   I was observing
because of my father.   We had to say Kaddish every day,
because that was the custom.   We had to daven and say Kaddish
for 11 months.   There were no rabbis
at the mass burial?   We didn’t need a rabbi.
Every Jew can conduct services.   What happened next to you?   You’re living with your grandmother.   During that time,
there was a question of–   We have to eat.   Somebody has to support us.   The money ran out,
whatever little money we had.   All the things like food   and whatever people need
for everyday survival   got more expensive.   Inflation sets in.   The woman that owned   the printing and rubber stamp company   offered me a partnership   because I knew
how to make rubber stamps.   People used to come from all over   to buy rubber stamps
of every description.   I started making money
because we started charging prices,   high prices, because we couldn’t
replace the raw materials.   They weren’t available.   This is what made me money
to survive   right after the tragedy
that happened.   Tape two with Maurice Moore.   Tell me about your move
to the ghetto.   – My life in the ghetto?
– Your move.   How you moved there.   When you were forced to move
to the ghetto.   We were living in the area   that they declared to be a ghetto.   – When was that?
– It was the Jewish neighborhood.   When the war broke out.   We were already living
in the Jewish neighborhood.   They just put a fence around it,
and we were enclosed.   That constituted the ghetto
of Warsaw.   We were living
right in the center of it.   You didn’t have to move?   We didn’t have to move.   Was it just a fence,
or was it a wood wall?   Was it a flimsy fence?   They were fences made out of brick.   All over. Wherever there
was an opening, they made–   Certain streets were cordoned off.   They built brick walls,   and you couldn’t get through.   One side was the ghetto,
and the other side is the Polish,   the Aryan side of the city.   Could you ever leave the ghetto?   Could you
ever leave the ghetto?   Could Jews ever leave the ghetto?   No, we couldn’t.   It was impossible
to leave the ghetto.   You risked your life
to leave the ghetto.   Eventually, I left the ghetto,   but it was
under these circumstances.   I risked my life.   The ghetto was quite large?   – Was it quite large?
– The ghetto?   There was a half a million
Jewish people living in the ghetto.   It was a large part of Warsaw.   Were there guards at the gates?   The gates
where they used to bring in   or take out merchandise or people
were guards.   There were German guards,
Polish guards   and Jewish police.   What were the hours of entry and exit,
and was there a pass system?   You could go in and out
if you had the proper papers.   If the government needed you
for some reason,   or you worked for the Germans,
or for whatever reason.   There were a lot of people
going in and out all day long.   I didn’t do it.   Did the rules change in the ghetto
very often?   The rules of going in and out.
All sorts of rules?   There were always restrictions,
and the conditions changed almost daily.   One day, you could go out
because you worked there.   The second day, you couldn’t get out
even if you worked there.   Every day the conditions changed.   Who was living with you?
Who was living with you?   My brother and my grandma.   – Did you have–
– In the ghetto.   Did you have your own room?
Or your own apartment?   We had an apartment, yeah.   The three of you
were able to live by yourselves?   We lived in our apartment.   What was your apartment like?   It was a two-bedroom apartment.   So you weren’t squeezed in
with a lot of people?   We shared our apartment   with all the people
that came from this whole community   surrounding the city of Warsaw   that were driven by the Germans
into the city of Warsaw.   We volunteered every room and every inch
of our apartment to people,   shared whatever food we had with them,   shared our belongings,
shared everything.   We weren’t the only people that did it.   Every Jewish family in Warsaw
did the same thing.   What were the problems involved
in having people live with you?   Big problems.   We had grown-up people
with no children.   We have young people with little babies
that we couldn’t sleep at night.   We had to endure.   These were the conditions.
They weren’t easy.   There were crammed people
in every corner of the house.   There were people
sleeping on the floors.   Did you have enough to eat?   Did you have enough to eat
in the ghetto?   I had enough to eat because I used
to work and make rubber stamps,   and I earned a lot of money.   I bought all kind of foods
on the black market.   I did give the money to my grandma.   I didn’t care about the money.   I just say here it is,   and she bought everything
she could lay her hands on.   So we had enough food.   The only thing that happened,   this working and producing
the rubber stamps came to an end   because the Germans decided   that none of the printing presses   or people that are able   to make printed items   should not produce in the ghetto   so they can’t disseminate news
of any kind.   So they came in one day,   and they closed everything up   under the threat of death.   If I would continue making
these stamps, or whatever,   I would have been arrested.   Who knows
what would happen to me?   Also at that time, my brother was taken   by the Jewish police to a camp.   That was in March of 1941.   – Then what happened?
– At that time, things changed for me.   Fear came over me,   and my grandma decided to tell me–   She actually convinced me   to leave the ghetto   and go wherever I could in order   not to be taken to a camp.   And that’s exactly what I did.   I left the ghetto   on June 22, 1941,   with a friend of mine.   His name was Motel Bornstein.   I remember him now.   We ran away from the ghetto
on the other side,   through a trolley car
that made a turn,   had to go into the ghetto
to turn around.   We jumped on the trolley car,   we lay down,
and we got out on the other side.   We had to bribe the conductor
so everything–   The whole way, from the moment
we entered the trolley car,   was nothing but bribes.   On every corner
that we had to change the trolley car,   there were a group of Polish boys
waiting for Jewish boys   that were trying to rescue themselves.   They actually blackmail them,   so we had to give them money   so we can continue our–   to go wherever we want   on the direction
that we were aiming to go.   We finally came to a place where,   through a lot of problems and–   It’s a lot of detail
to really tell the whole story.   Eventually, we wind up
in a little city called Plonsk.   From Plonsk, we made friends
with some Jewish people.   There was no ghetto yet.   That was already–   That particular area
was annexed to the German Reich.   So there, in that area,
they called it theDritte Reich.  The money in circulation
was German marks, not Polish zlotys.   Everything was very cheap,   and they advised us
that the things to do for us–   We should go to a farm,   and the farmers
are looking for hands,   and we’ll readily get a job.   And that’s exactly what we did.   We went to a farmer,
about 10 miles away from the city,   and we got jobs.   We did farm work.   Whatever the farmer
needed us to do, we did.   We worked there for about–   this was 1941–   until after the gathering,
until after the harvest.   After the harvest,
the Germans decreed   in case they find a Jewish boy
on the farm,   that they will take away the farm
from the Pollock and arrest him.   So the Pollock, the farmer,   told us about the decree,
and he let us go.   So we went back
to the little city of Plonsk.   At that time,
they decided to make a ghetto.   It became a ghetto in Plonsk.   During the day, at that time–
It was like, I would say   July, August, September–
about October.   It was September.
It was either September or October.   It was after the harvest,
and I had to eat.   I didn’t know what to do.   I didn’t have anybody
to give me anything.   There was no jobs in the ghetto,
so we started smuggling.   By the way, my friend went back
to the city of Warsaw,   and the last time I heard about him   that he died in the city of Warsaw
from typhus.   I used to go to the farmer
and buy different things   for fabrics and buttons and needles   and bring it back to the ghetto.   One day,
I fell on the street in the ghetto   and I woke up in a hospital,
in a Jewish hospital in the ghetto,   two days later.   They told me that I have typhus.   That was in–   around November 1941.   I was in the hospital,
the Jewish hospital, for 10 days.   Thank God I survived.   When I got out of the hospital,
I walked with two canes.   I was 18 years old.   I was so thin, so emaciated,   and I was without a place to go.   So I walked on the street,   and I used to eat
in the soup kitchens   that they had for people,
for out-of-towners.   Finally, a family
I got acquainted with took me in   and gave me a place to sleep.   I was all by myself.   Little by little, I recuperated.   As I recuperated
and gained strength,   I started doing what I did before.   I was smuggling
from the ghetto into the farm   and from the farm to the ghetto.   After I got all my provisions together
on my back,   and I was walking in the snow   for about maybe six hours
to get to the ghetto,   and when I reached the ghetto walls,   a big German shepherd jumped on me.   There was a German police,   and he says,
“Oh, so you’re a smuggler?”   I didn’t say anything.   They just took everything
away from me,   and they send me
to a camp for smugglers.   Not because I’m Jewish.
Just because I was smuggling.   It was illegal.   The camp consisted
of 120 Polish men,   and among the 120 Polish men,   there were two Jews–
me and somebody else.   Nobody knew that we were Jewish
because it was impossible.   They didn’t know that.   They weren’t sophisticated people,
you know.   The only time
they knew that you were Jewish   because you wore
that Jewish clothes on.   You know, you had the black stuff,
so they knew you were Jewish.   But otherwise they didn’t.   We were working
and building highways.   We were taking big stones,   crushing them with hammers   and taking them to these roads.   This is the way we did.   Every day
we had a certain amount of stones   to crush with hammers.   I finally did it right.   The whole camp got sick on typhus.   When they got sick on typhus,   I was already after my typhus
that I had in the ghetto.   So it did not affect me,   but it affected about, I would say,   60 to 65%
of the people in the camp.   Naturally, if 65% of the people
were sick,   they didn’t eat.   So there was plenty of food.   Therefore, I recuperated
in that particular camp   where I had plenty of food,
and I got to be strong.   It sounds like there wasn’t
that much anti-Semitic feeling.   You said they weren’t sophisticated
in Plonsk?   In that particular camp.   In the camp.
In the ghetto.   It didn’t seem that hard
in the ghetto there.   No, this wasn’t in a ghetto.
This was in a camp.   When the police caught me smuggling,   they took me to a camp,
and I was–   Another fellow that was Jewish
and myself,   we were among 120
non-Jewish Polish people.   They didn’t seem that interested
in finding out   who was Jewish and who wasn’t.   They couldn’t tell because–
How could they tell?   We spoke Polish better than they do.   They didn’t ask you
to drop your pants?   – You mentioned that.
– Why should they?   They are not the police.   You mean the police? No.   It was lucky.   What were you smuggling
out of the ghetto   to exchange with the farmers?   Fabrics and needles   and threads.   Something that the farmer would buy   to make their own clothes.   Because the farm women,
they used to buy fabric,   and they used
to make clothes themselves.   They weren’t interested
in whether you were Jewish or not?   – The farm people around Plonsk.
– They didn’t care.   It was strictly business.   What was that ghetto like in Plonsk?   The ghetto was encircled   with also a wood–   It wasn’t exactly like in Warsaw.   The fences were a little bit less strong.   They’re not as strongly built   like they would be in a big city.   They were made out of wood.
It wasn’t a big thing.   Some of the boards were loose.   You could go in and out,
and if they caught you–   It wasn’t that bad in Plonsk.   That’s the reason I went in and out.   There were certain spots,
nobody was there.   What happened after the camp?   How did you get out of that camp,
and what happened next?   That camp, after the people–   There were 10 people
that died of typhus.   The rest of them recuperated.   They liquidated the camp.   I could have gone
anyplace I wanted to   because I got a paper
not listing me as a Jew.   I got a paper as I was liberated,   and I paid my dues to society
because I was in that camp,   and that I was released.   And that’s it.
That’s all it stated.   But I didn’t have anyplace to go,   so I went back
to the ghetto in Plonsk.   When I went back
to the ghetto in Plonsk,   after being there for a few days,   I went back to the family
that gave me lodging,   and they gave me lodging all over again.   So the local Jewish community,   the administration,   issued the edict or whatever   that anybody that is here illegally,   who does not belong to the community,   that came from other places–   like me, I came from Warsaw–   we should register
so we can get food stamps.   Because without stamps,   you had to buy everything
on the black market.   But if you have legal residence
and you get food stamps,   the merchandise or the products
that you buy   like bread or whatever else you need,   provisions, cost very little.   Bread on the black market
maybe cost 20 times as much.   A kilo of bread with a coupon
cost only 40 pfennigs.   Like 40 cents.   So I registered,   and so did many other Jewish boys   that came from other parts.   In the middle of the night,
the Jewish police in the ghetto of Plonsk   came to the door, asked for my name,
and took me out.   We were destined to go to a camp.   Instead of getting food stamps,
they tricked us.   That’s the way they got my name
and where I was.   They took me and 800 other boys.   They had to deliver to the Germans   800 boys to build the camp.   They didn’t have that many people
because the city was also–   Only about 10,000 people
was in the city.   To bring out 800 young men,   it was a task by itself.   First they took the people
that are not residents,   the non-residents.   Then they took the local people
that are poor.   Then they went to the rich people
in the little town,   and the parents
were trying to buy themselves out.   They decided they’ll pay $500 each   for their sons not to go to camp.   But the administration–   They used to call them theJudenrat.  This was the name of the Jewish
administration in the ghetto.  Judenrat.  TheJudenrat
could not get enough people,   so eventually
they got the people’s money,   and the young men
had to go anyways.   So we went to a camp.   The name of the camp
was Nosarzewo, which was–   People that know the area
would know it’s between   Plonsk and Mlawa.   In that camp, we–   I was among the people
that were there   eight months in that camp.   We built barracks
for the German soldiers   and a small airport,
during the eight months.   There was seven of the boys   that were the children
of the rich people of town,   they really did not want to work,
and they ran away.   About three miles   beyond the fence of the camp,
they caught them.   They brought them back to camp,
and they had anappell.  Everybody had to stay and watch,
and they hung them.   This was in March of 1942.   I witnessed the first hanging   of seven young boys,   my age, 18, 19,   in Nosarzewo, in that camp.   This camp was set up by the Nazis,
the Germans,   with the help of the Polish Jews?   Pardon me?   How was this camp administered?   This camp was all Germans.   Everything was German.   It was strictly run by Germans.   Getting back into the–   I want to interject something   about the Warsaw ghetto.   Every day in the ghetto,
there were many people   that dressed up
in their best suits and shoes   and their clothing,   because they had no work.   They were very intelligent people,   and also,
at the same time they were poor.   They had no money to buy food.   They walked the streets,
and, every day,   you could see people
falling on the street, dead.   They looked prosperous,
but they weren’t.   They were swollen.   Trucks used to come by
and pick them up every single day.   That was also prompted me
to leave the ghetto.   Do you know
how those people were buried?   Were they buried in mass graves?   – In mass graves, yes.
– By whom?   By the Jewish community.   They were the government.   Also theJudenrat,
the WarsawJudenrat.  Everybody was buried in a–   There was no individual graves.   What else did you know
about theJudenrats  in either Warsaw or Plonsk?   TheJudenratwere these–   When the Germans
needed something done,   they went to theJudenrat,  and they fulfilled the wishes
of the Germans.   If the Germans needed money,
they went to theJudenrat.  When they needed people,
they went to theJudenrat.  So all the people–   TheJudenrat,
which was the administration,   and the police and the FBI,
all were Jews.   They did the dirty work
for the Germans.   Were the Jewish police
under theJudenrat?  Were they part of it?
The Jewish police?   They were part, impartial.   – Did they have uniforms?
– The had uniforms.   Do you remember anything
about those uniforms?   They had a regular uniform,
like a policeman.   Like an American policeman.   Did they have insignia?   Insignia?
The mark of David.   – Oh, I see.
– Right there.   Was it anyone you knew from before?   I lived in Warsaw.
I knew many of these people.   How did you feel about them?   Well, you know, in the beginning,
they just kept order.   In the beginning,
there was no problem.   A lot of people came
from outside the city of Warsaw,   and they didn’t know their way,
they didn’t know what to do.   They controlled the traffic.   It was a regular police force.   But then, after a while,
the Germans utilized   their knowledge
and their cooperation   in order to deliver the Jewish kids   to the concentration camps daily.   What do you think motivated
the Jewish police?   What motivated them?   They wanted to save their own skin.   They saved their uncles and their aunts
and their cousins and their–   They had privileges.   And they got food.   Back to the camp
where you were working in Poland,   where you built the barracks.   You said you were going
to build an airport there?   Yeah. I was working–   They asked me
if I can be a carpenter.   I said, “Yes, I can be a carpenter.”   So I worked as a carpenter.   First, I went in as a helper,
and then I got certain responsibilities   because there were–   Prefabricated parts for barracks
came from Germany,   and all you had to do
is just put them together.   Were you in a camp before that?
For three months?   I was in a work camp, as a smuggler.   That was the name
of the smugglers’ camp?   I don’t know the name of–
Oh, Novi Dvor.   It was– I don’t know.   That’s not the name of the camp,
but it was near the city of Novi Dvor.   That was the smugglers’ camp?   That smuggling camp, yeah.   Because the other young man,
the Jewish boy,   he was from Novi Dvor.   That was also
the birthplace of my father.   That’s the reason I remember that.   Your father had been born there?   We also had people
that came to Warsaw   and stayed with us in our apartment
from that city.   You were released from the camp   where you were building
the barracks and the airport,   and you were released
back to Plonsk?   Back to Plonsk.   Three times you were in Plonsk.   This time, I came to Plonsk was   1942, around October.   The end of October.   What happened next?   Next, we had a–   New things happened in the ghetto,   and theJudenratannounced   that the ghetto is being liquidated.   All the inhabitants
will have to leave the ghetto.   They will be transported someplace,   to nobody knew where.   We’re going to stop.   Would you tell us
what happened next?   This time, when we came back
from the Nosarzewo camp,   the administration
told the community   that we were going
to be liquidated as a ghetto,   and they are going to resettle us,   but we don’t know where.   There were 10,000 Jewish people
in that ghetto.   There were going to be five groups,   each group consisting
for about 2,000 people   that are leaving the ghetto of Plonsk.   While I was in the camps,   I met a Polish man who told me   that the Jews
are being liquidated in Auschwitz   and in many other parts in Poland.   That they were being gassed
and burned.   If I could see myself
any way possible   to run away
or save myself in any other ways,   he wanted me to know
what’s going on.   That’s the only thing I knew.   That there’s a possibility   that the Germans
actually kill the Jews.   – How did he know?
– He knew.   He was a civilian.   While the transports
were taking place,   the last of the transports   were supposed to be theJudenrat
and the police   and all other people that   deemed themselves privileged.   I decided to go with one transport   before the last transport.   So I went with the fourth transport,   and they took us in regular trains.   Passenger trains
from Plonsk to Auschwitz.   We were in a passenger–   Pretty much cramped,
but it was a Polish passenger train   coming from Plonsk to Auschwitz.   In Auschwitz,
we came in the middle of the night.   They told us that the children   and the older people
and the women   are going to go to one side,   and they will select   men in another side.   I was a small person,
with a big coat on me.   It was cold.
It was wintertime.   I just didn’t know
what’s going to happen to me.   If they’re going to look at me
as a child or a man.   I saw two Germans
with their bayonets drawn   to separate the groups.   I just pushed myself under,   and I went over to the men’s sides   because I knew all these times
that when I worked,   I had a chance to survive.   I figured when they take men,   most likely the men
are going to go to work.   And I guessed it right.   Because the 1,800 people–   the women, the children,
the older men–   they went directly to Birkenau
to be gassed and burned.   The 200 people that I was among
were going to Auschwitz,   into the camps,
into barrack number 10.   We were waiting for 10 days.   Then they came
and they asked for volunteers,   and I was one of the volunteers.   They took out 100 men from that group
to go to a coal mine   in a sub-camp of Auschwitz
by the name of Jawiszowice.   When you went under the bayonets,
they let you select yourself?   They couldn’t do nothing.
What they going to do?   There is 2,000 people
they were watching.   They don’t know me.   They don’t care about one man
one way or the other.   This was right when
you got off the train?   Off the train,
and it was pitch dark.   They didn’t see my face.   It was just a lucky thing.   A gutsy thing to do.   That’s what I always had.   – Guts.
– Yeah.   So you were at this sub-camp
of Auschwitz?   I was at the sub-camp,
working at a coal mine   for 25 months, every single day.   In that camp,
the first 10 months was–   I didn’t think I’d survive.   I was that thin,
and the work was very hard.   We were working with Polish miners.   Every one of them
was an anti-Semite.   They didn’t like the Jews
for some reason.   He said the Jews
are not good workers.   The Jews were storekeepers,   lawyers, engineers,
but they never work hard.   Whoever was there
learned how to work hard.   I was working hard
for two camps already,   so I knew how to work.   I wasn’t afraid for work.   So because I wasn’t afraid to work,   eventually I made a friend.   A Polish engineer.
I made a friend of him.   He used to bring me sandwiches
every day.   When? At night,
or when you were working?   Ten months later.   After 10 months,
you became friendly with him?   Yeah. We had a German engineer,
but they changed to a Polish engineer.   It just so happened
that this engineer was my height.   A short guy.   I speak very eloquent Polish.   I was in his league, speaking Polish,
and he liked it.   Then he became friendly with me,
and he asked me if I read German.   I said, “Yes, I read German.”   If I can translate German into Polish
and tell him what’s going on.   I said, “I’ll be happy to do it.”   He changed my job
to a real good job.   Just an easy job.   They took the Pollocks to Germany   because they took the Germans
into the army.   So the Polish miners
they took to the German mines,   and the Jewish miners
that were helpers,   that had something on the ball,   they gave them better jobs,   replacing the Polish miners
that went to Germany.   I was lucky enough,
and I was already well-acquainted   with the type of work
to be done in the mines.   So I got an excellent job.   Except for the first two days
on the job.   I had an accident.   A piece of coal hit me
right on the nose, broke my teeth.   I had this kind of a face.
Swollen and bloody.   Everything stopped because I was
in a special kind of situation.   – Everything stopped after your accident?
– Yeah.   I was very lucky
because this engineer gave me a note   that I am an essential worker
in the mine.   That I have to be back to work.   I asked him to give me that paper,
even though I didn’t feel good.   I was bloodied up.
I washed myself off.   I broke a tooth,
and my nose was swollen.   I wanted to come back.   The reason I wanted to come back   is because anyone
that got an accident in the mines,   they never return to the mines.   Every 10 days, they used to take–   came a doctor to the camp   and selected about 200 people   that looked like
they don’t have any strength,   their muscles became soft,
or they were in an accident.   They took them to Birkenau,
replaced them with newcomers.   Because there were
constant people coming,   new people coming to the camp.   So it was no big thing for the Germans
to replace one of these coal miners.   I knew about it.
I was there.   I went back to work,
and this engineer took care of me.   I had an easy job.   Easier job than before.   He brought me papers,
newspapers.   I translated the German into Polish.   I also was aware
of what was going on   because I was reading.   Otherwise, I couldn’t get a paper.   So I knew that the German army
is pulling back from Russia,   with different kind of excuses.   They’re building bridgeheads.   We’re building a bridgehead here
and a bridgehead here.   We’re going back because this part
was not good, or that part was not good.   All these rivers were frozen.   All kind of excuses.   But we already knew
that they are losing the war.   That was close   to 1944.   Were you able to share
this information with anyone   except for this Polish engineer?   – Did you tell anyone else?
– No.   – It was too dangerous.
– Too dangerous.   Did he ask you to do anything else
for him besides translate?   No.   But he was instrumental
in your living then?   He helped me.   I also had a miner
that I worked with previous to that,   that I promised that–   that I come from a rich family
in Warsaw.   If he’s going to help me,
bring me some food,   that I’ll give him   part of my inheritance.   I don’t know if he believed me or not,
but he brought me a sandwich anyways.   In this sub-camp,
it wasn’t all Nazis at all?   – It was the Polish miners and–
– Polish miners.   – Polish engineers.
– Engineers and Jewish prisoners.   Not everyone you worked with
was anti-Semitic?   Some were, but then
there were these people–   They weren’t friendly.
Let’s put it that way.   Miners work very hard.   It wasn’t a picnic for them neither.   They didn’t have what they really got
before the war as miners.   They had a limited amount of food,
a limited amount of money.   – They were like semi-prisoners.
– Were they living there, at the camp?   Were they living
at the camp there with you?   No. They were civilians,
but their economic condition   wasn’t very good.   Tell us about actually working
in the coal mine.   Did you go underground every day?   We were marching
from the camp to the coal mines   about three, two and a half miles   from the camp to the mines.   They had shafts
that brought us into the mines,   about 300, 400 feet, 600 feet, 1,800–   There were different kind of levels
in the mine that you had to work   digging coal and the coal–   It was like a city.   Except it was dark.   Everyone had his own lamp.   And his lamp is his guide,   like a guide dog for a blind person.   Without this lamp, you’re dead.   So in many cases,
just breaking up the story,   many people committed suicide
by throwing away the lamp.   They throw away the lamp.
That was it.   They got lost in the mine,
and they died.   Tell us the difference
between you and the people–   the attitude of you, the young person,
and the people who committed suicide.   Well, I tell you what.
I really wanted to survive.   I did everything possible
to survive.   I had to survive.   Naturally, some situations,
it couldn’t be helped.   When you’re surrounded,   and there’s no place to go.   Like the people
that were taken to Birkenau.   They had no choice.   That’s it.
For them, it was just like cattle.   When you worked with civilians,
you had a chance.   You could lie.
You could talk your way out.   You could do all kind of things.   You had to work,
had a chance to work with civilians.   Otherwise, your chances were nil.   I was lucky
that I was at a work camp.   I was healthy,
and that really kept me alive   because a lot of people got sick
and they– that was it.   You got sick, it’s all over.   They don’t need you.   Why would they take you
to a hospital?   There was no hospitals.   There wasn’t a hospital for prisoners.   Once you got sick, it’s good-bye.   You said something to me about   the men who had lost
their wives and children.   Yeah. These are actually the people
that didn’t want to live any longer.   They not only went–   In my camp, they went in the mines
and threw away the lamps.   But they also ran
to the electric fences.   They jumped into the fence
to be electrocuted.   Lots of people.   You wanted to know about the routine.
I want to tell you about it.   We had to work eight hours
in the coal mine   because there were three shifts.   One shift prepares for the next shift.   It’s a routine
that takes place in 24-hour segments.   If you didn’t finish your job
in eight hours,   and you had, let’s see,
an hour or two to finish it,   you stayed for an extra eight hours   until you get back to the barracks.   You didn’t have much sleep
to catch up to   because you had to be up
in your particular shift.   It was a tough life.   Then we had to work in the camp
four hours.   So eight hours in the camp,
in the mines.   Four hours in the camp.   An hour to go.
An hour to come back.   Then you had to shower every day
because you came out from the camp,   you were full of dust,
about a half an inch of coal dust   on your person and on your clothing.   You had two different type of clothes.   One to work in,
and one to be in the camp.   Actually, there was a laundry,   and you gave the dirty clothes   and you get a set of fresh ones
every day.   You showered every day.
Cold water.   How were the barracks?   Everybody had their individual bed.   – Individual bed?
– Yeah, but three stories, three rows up.   But you had a bed for yourself.   They had to give you
pretty good conditions   because otherwise
you wouldn’t be able to work.   Coal mining is hard work.   They gave you
a piece of salami every day.   Maybe a quarter of a pound of salami.   And soup and a piece of bread,
and that’s it.   What kind of soup?
Was it a real soup?   It wasn’t too bad.   Soup. You got a good soup.   Soup at night.
Soup, salami, a piece of bread.   In the morning you get tea or whatever.
Some kind of a tea.   – That’s all?
– That’s it.   You got the piece of bread in the evening,
and you had to divide it.   You had to eat half of it,
and then keep–   But nobody kept it,
because you were very hungry.   So you ate everything.   You went to work, and you worked
without food for eight hours,   waiting to get back
to the camp to eat.   You got your number at this camp, right?
In Auschwitz?   – My number?
– When did you get it?   When I came to Auschwitz–   I think it was in November 1942.   – Or was it in December?
– Or December.   I don’t remember exactly.   But it was in the end
of either November or December.   Yeah, probably December.   We were taken to that Auschwitz camp
and waiting to be–   The first thing they took us
is to go into showers.   We had to take everything off,
throw away our belongings   and our toothbrushes and shoes
and whatever we took with us.   Clothing.
Nothing counted.   Had to put it on a pile.   We went into the showers.   It was lucky that these particular showers
didn’t contain gas.   Afterwards, we found out–   After we got liberated,
we found out that some of the showers–   People got showered,
and instead of water came out gas.   After the showers,
went out to the other side,   and we got a towel to dry ourselves.   We got a uniform with stripes
and some shoes.   We had to pick shoes.   I was lucky.
I got a good pair of shoes.   Shoes. This was the most
important thing in my life.   Shoes.
Then I could walk.   Without being able to walk,
you can’t work.   You can’t do anything
because it’s snow.   Is that what you wore
in the coal mine? Shoes?   – Not boots or anything?
– Shoes.   All the time.
Good shoes.   I had a Pollock who wanted my shoes.   He said if I don’t give him my shoes,   he’s going to do this,
he’s going to do that.   So I gave him
a very Polish dressing down   because I knew how to speak Polish
better than him.   And it worked.   He walked away.   – Was this another prisoner?
– Another prisoner.   But a Pollock.   They thought
that they are going to be privileged   because the Jews
were so downtrodden.   Whatever somebody says,
it’s “Yes, okay, I’ll give it to you.”   They were afraid.   But I knew how to handle them.   I remained with the shoes,
and I always made sure   that I have a good pair of shoes
to work in.   When you went to the coal mine,
were you just in that uniform,   or did they give you
something heavy to wear?   Was it cold down there?   We had a work uniform
and a camp uniform.   But it’s the same fabric.
It was a flannel.   Was that warm enough?   We were warm enough.   – Do you know where the coal went?
– We didn’t pay attention.   We were young.   I was young.   Were most of the people
in the work crews young?   Not really.   – Or just healthy?
– All kind of ages.   Do you know
what the coal went towards?   What they used the coal for?   – What they used to?
– The coal.   – Cold?
– The coal.   – The coal that you dug.
– Oh, the coal.   It was regular coal.   They used to make gas.   Gas out of the coal.   They make various kind of chemicals   out of coal.   They used it as a heating coal.   They used to heat homes.   This coal was used in Europe,   just like here they use gas.   They used to have–   Electric stations
used coal for power.   Did you also learn
to be a mechanic there?   I was in the camps,
in the coal mine, everything.   Whatever they wanted, I used to do.   I learned everything because of   necessity.   I was very young, very handy.   How did you happen
to leave that camp?   As the Russian army   approached Poland,   and the German army
somehow got disintegrated,   they liquidated the camps
around Auschwitz.   In January of 1945,   they liquidated Auschwitz
and all the sub-camps around Auschwitz,   and they took our particular camp
on a march.   We were marching about 70 miles   to a train, an open cattle train.   I don’t know whether
it’s a coal train or a–   It was an open train.   Finally, we reached that train,
and the train took us to Buchenwald.   Buchenwald didn’t have   a direct connection with the station,   so we had to go to a city
called Weimar, with a W.   W-E-I.   Wei– M-A-R.
Weimar.   In Thuringia.   It took about seven kilometers
from Weimar   to walk to Buchenwald.   When we reached Buchenwald,   in January of 1945,   they did not have room for us,   and they said
we cannot enter the camp.   So we had to lodge on the snow.   Outside the gates of Buchenwald,   we slept in the snow, hungry   and tired and cold.   And the next day,
half of the prisoners didn’t get up.   They died in the snow.   We still didn’t get any food.   We had to stay another day,
and another 50% of them died.   Finally, from the 2,000 people   that marched out of our camp,   maybe 700 survived
to enter Buchenwald.   We got in Buchenwald.   We got in a, like, isolation camp.   Because they had a regular camp,
and they have newcomers,   and they didn’t want
to mix both groups up.   So we were what we called
the small camp in Buchenwald.   After being there for a couple of weeks,
they sent us away.   They sent us out to a camp
by the name of Ohrdruf.   Ohrdruf. It was a bad camp.   There were Russians in that camp.   There were Ukrainians.   The guards that guard us   were Germans and Ukrainians.   The prisoners were also Ukrainians.   So there were–
Members of the Russian army   that did not behave
in their regular camps   were sent to this particular camp called–   They used to call itStrafecamp.  Strafecamp was
a punishable camp,   to punish prisoners
that did not behave.   There were really
not that much to do there.   Did you have trouble
from those tough prisoners?   These Ukrainians–   They mistreated–
They were prisoners.   They mistreated the Jews.   They were tall, gigantic people.   When we stand in line
to get our bread ration,   they used to grab it.   If we didn’t take the ration,
the bread ration,   and put it into our shirts
fast enough,   they grabbed it out of our hands.   There were a lot of prisoners   didn’t eat for days.   They died of starvation.   Jewish people.   I was lucky in that particular camp.   A German guard that guarded me   in the camp,
in the coal mining camps,   recognized me.   He had a little bit
conversation with me,   and he said, “Hey–”   They didn’t call you by your name.
They called you by your number.   Your number was
in front of you, your outfit.   And he say, “I remember you.   You were in that coal mine
for a long, long, long time,   and I think that you should be
the one to have a little–   I’m going to give you a good job.”   So he gave me a job,
and I worked part-time in the kitchen,   and part-time
I worked in his office.   You know, cleaning,
putting away, making fires.   It’s not like here.
You switch a button to make fires.   You had to gather wood,
add a little coal, to make a fire.   They had these stoves.   It gave me an opportunity
to at least have food.   And I didn’t have
to go outside to work.   I was lucky enough to have enough food
not only for myself,   but to bring into the barracks
where I was staying   and to share it
with my fellow prisoners.   So I became some kind of a hero.   Which made me feel good,
not only because I was a hero,   but at least I could help somebody.   These guys had a problem
getting their rations.   Not all of them, but many of them.   You said there really was
no real work to do.   No real work,
but there were so many   German guards and Ukrainian guards   that they actually
had to create work for them.   We used to shovel snow
from one place.   Clean the highways.   But there was really not
specific work.   You came with a group to Ohrdruf.   When they transferred the group,
you were among the group.   You are a member of a group.   That particular group
was transferred   to another camp called Garfunkel.   In Garfunkel, not too far away,
maybe 50 kilometers,   and the same thing happened.   We were newly arrived
into Garfunkel,   and there was no specific work to do.   We were cleaning the highways,   taking the snow
from one area to another area.   Just wasting time.   The war is almost coming to an end.   It was already March of 1945.   Then they liquidated the camp
of Garfunkel   and took us back to Buchenwald.   By that time,
the group was emaciated.   It was maybe about 200 people.   So we came back to Buchenwald,
into the small camps.   The conditions were very bad.   It was cold, was freezing.   We had the kind of lodging   like the pictures I showed you.   Like in Birkenau.   We used to get in
with the feet first,   and the heads
like a row of sardines.   Laying one next to the other.   In the morning you get up,   your partner, your next door neighbor,
was dead.   I wake up in the morning,
and two guys beside me were dead.   We had to drag them out
and pile them up on the place.   Then they took them away.   We didn’t know
what happened to them.   – That was day in and day out.
– They just died slow deaths?   – Of starvation?
– People died slow, fast.   Day in and day out.   Was very little food.   We had to stay in anappell. Appellmeans outside.   They used to count
how many people are alive,   how many people are dead.   Until this camp commander
came to count us,   many of us froze to death.   I was lucky.
I don’t know how I survived.   We stayed there until   I think it was
in the very beginning of April.   April 1945, which was about,   I think, the fifth or the sixth of April,   they rounded up
all the people in the small–   the newly arrived people   from the sub-camp of Auschwitz–   and took them to the train.   They put us on a train.   We didn’t know
where we were going.   In fact, after the liberation,
I found out that Buchenwald as a camp   was liberated on April the 11th
by the American army.   But in the meantime,
we were on a train going to nowhere.   On that way going to nowhere–   we did not know where we’re going–   an American plane were shooting   at our train
and disabled the locomotive.   Some German soldiers   that used to guard us got killed   and also many prisoners.   They made us leave the train.   I don’t remember
the name of the place   where they made us leave the train.   There were many people that got killed
by the Americans on that train,   which was unfortunate.   And we started marching.   We were marching.   Going nowhere.   On the way marching,
we found out that we are in Bavaria.   We stopped over one night in a camp.   I don’t remember
the name of the camp.   Only for about two days.
Then we got out.   We were marching,
and on the way we were marching,   the commanding officer on the march   asking for volunteers,   because many of the people
that were marching   fell dead on the road,
and we had to bury them.   He was asking for volunteers
to dig graves   to bury the people that fell dead.   So I was a volunteer to go to work.   The reason I was volunteering   is I thought that maybe
I’m going to meet a civilian.   Every time I meet a civilian,   I somehow talk him
into bringing me some food.   But as luck had it, I didn’t have a chance
to meet any civilians right away.   That was April 21, 1945.   I was digging graves in Bavaria
on the side of a road.   I had four other people, Hungarian Jews
that didn’t speak Yiddish.   I had a hard time
conversing with them,   but somehow we made it happen.   We were digging graves together.   We used to put in six to eight people
in a grave.   On the night of the 22nd,
following night,   about 12:00 at night,   it was raining so strongly   that I asked the guard
who was guarding us   that we cannot work any longer.   I told him we have to go into a farm   to dry out and get something to eat.   Otherwise, we’re going to have
to be put into these graves ourselves.   He agreed, but he told me,
“You have to knock on the door.   You have to ask the question.”
I said, “I will.”   He saw that I have a spade
in my hand.   A shovel.   It was raining, so he has his carbine
turned around.   He was covered up with a raincoat,
that he couldn’t move.   If he said no, I don’t know
what I would have done   because I was very serious.   He saw in my eyes that I’m very,
very serious at the moment.   It was a life-and-death situation.   So I knocked on the door
of the farmhouse.   A German woman,
the farmer’s wife or whatever she was,   she opened the door,
and I ask her–   I really didn’t ask her.   I really almost demanded   that she should let us in to dry out.   She says absolutely.
No question about it.   She welcomed us.   She brought hay
and put it on the floor   in the kitchen
and in the living room.   She brought up blankets,
put the blankets down,   and gave us blankets
to cover every one of us,   including the soldier,
the guard that guarded us.   She made us
a very thin potato soup.   Hot potato soup.   And she dried our clothes.   She washed it and dried it.   She made us eat that soup.   We fell asleep like little babies.   We didn’t care what happened.   The following morning, about 6:00
in the morning, we got up.   She gave us our clothes back, dried.   And we were of the opinion   that we were going
to have to go and dig graves again.   So when we got up, she made us
another portion of thin soup,   and she also gave us
a piece of bread.   She says, “Eat that.   It’s not much,
but I don’t want you to have much.”   She seems to be knowledgeable
what she was doing.   We went out from that farmhouse
to the road.   We thought that we were going
to dig graves.   But the guard says.
“We’re not going to dig graves anymore.   Let the community deal–
The local people, let them do it.”   We were going
to catch up to the group.   That was early morning
on April 23, 1945.   The name of the community
that we reached–   The name of it is called
Nürnberg Farn Wald  in Bavaria.   The moment we–
that group of mine, the five people–   we reached the rest of the group,   we turned around,
and there were no Germans.   No guards.
Where did they all go?   There were white flags   hanging out from the little homes,   from the farmhouses.   We didn’t know
what’s going to happen.   We thought that the German army
are going to come back,   and the American army or whoever army
is going to come after them.   So we were a little afraid.   There was a few men
that I was in the coal mines with.   We went into a little forest.   In Germany, right in front
of every little community,   they have like a small forest.   So we went into that forest,
and we lie down, and we waited.   We didn’t know
what’s going to happen.   We heard some shooting
into that little forest,   but we didn’t say anything.   One of the people that were there
were an ex-soldier in the Polish army.   So he said,
“Lay down, don’t say anything.”   Then after a while–   I had a towel for a shawl.   I took my shawl, my towel,
put it on a twig,   and we went outside,
going like we give up.   We surrender.   But instead of Germans, soldiers,
they were Americans.   The Americans on tanks.   Big American tanks.   There were Jewish soldiers,
speaking Yiddish, from Brooklyn.   He told us, “Don’t be afraid anymore.
You don’t need it.   You’re free.”   They told us
they liberated other camps,   so they know what’s going on.   They warned us not to eat   because nurses are coming,   and doctors are coming,
and they will take care of us.   Please don’t eat.   But at the same time,
they gave us chocolate   and cans of food, C-rations.   He said, “You’re going
to have this for later.”   I didn’t eat.   But there were some people
in the group that ate,   and died because they ate.   Unfortunately, they lived to be liberated
by the American army,   and they didn’t have the patience
to wait just another hour or so.   That was the day I was liberated.   April 23, 1945,   inNürnberg Farn Wald
in Bavaria.   Did you have the patience
because you thought of it yourself,   or because the woman
had told you that earlier?   I was lucky because
I was happy to be in that farm,   and the woman gave me
some food, and I wasn’t–   I wasn’t that deprived anymore.   I felt like I had something
in my stomach.   I listened to the American soldier,   and I realized
that he had a point there   because the woman told me   we should eat very small portions
in the beginning   to get our stomachs used to food.   And I took her advice.   Personally, I was rationalizing.   She’s absolutely right.
She’s correct.   So that was the day
of my liberation,   and I usually celebrate that day
as a new birthday.   So, actually,
I was born April 23, 1945.   I’m a young man!   You went back to Poland afterwards
to look for your brother?   I organized a group of boys   in that little place,
Nürnberg Farn Wald.   There were one Jewish boy
and myself.   About 20 boys, and we decided
we’re going to go back to Warsaw   because I hoped that my brother
is going to be alive.   We got the– In July–   That was like April,
three months later.   We were already recuperated.
We felt good.   We were young.   In July, they gave us a truck.   An American truck
with an American driver.   A soldier.   He was supposed to take us   to the Russian frontier.   Germany was divided
into American zone and Russian zone.   In order to go to Poland,
you had to go   from an American zone
to the Russian zone,   and then from the Russian zone
to Poland.   So instead of going to the Russian zone,
they took us to a camp.   The camp was situated
in a city called Fulda.   Also in Germany, about 100 kilometers
from Frankfurt am Main.   This camp
was a displaced person camp   run by the Polish   government in exile,   and their headquarters
was in London.   We got there,
and they treated us very nicely.   They gave us food and everything.   The Polish officers
came in from London,   and they warned us
not to go back to Poland.   Because our aim
was to go back to Poland.   That’s what we told
the American authorities.   They decided to try to indoctrinate us
not to go back to Poland   because the Russian army is there,
and they mistreat the population.   They kill, and they maim, and they rape.   They take everything away.
It’s not safe to go.   Why don’t we wait
until it’s going to be safe.   All the Pollocks are going to go.   So the next day, we broke the fence.   Cut the fence out.   There was a guard.
He didn’t let us out.   So we cut the fence.
It wasn’t an electric fence.   It was a regular fence.   We just got out one by one.   Then we came to a bridge.   At the bridge was an American soldier,
guarding all the bridges   because they didn’t want the–   They didn’t know
what’s going to happen.   The bridge was to make sure   that the American trucks
go in safely, go through.   So he asks us,
“Hey, where are you going?”   I told him, “We just got liberated
by the American army.   We’re going home.”
He says, “Go!”   We somehow got transportation
from place to place.   Farmers took us
on horse rides with hay.   Then eventually we got to,
on the Russian side,   a city called Chemnitz.   In Chemnitz,
we met the Russian officers.   Jewish officers.   I could talk to them–
both Russian and–   A little bit of Russian,
but mostly Jewish.   They gave us accommodations.   They went into a hotel,
and they kicked everybody out.   Everybody got a room.   They brought us food and everything.   Then they took us the next day
to the railroad.   Put us on a train.   We went to the Polish frontier.   We had to go–   From the passenger train,
we had to get off on the Polish border.   On the Polish border
was also Russians.   Somehow, they divided the territory.   So we went onto the flatbed.   On the flatbed, we–
Everybody had some belongings.   Some kind of clothes,
whatever the Americans gave us.   They went into the German homes,   and they say,
“Take whatever you want.”   Because we didn’t have anything.   So we take suitcases.
We put in some stuff.   Pants, shoes, whatever we found
that fit, we took it.   I had a   bicycle   that I also took from a German.   Americans said
take whatever you want.   So I took that bicycle
all the way to Poland.   I fell asleep on that flatbed,
and I got up in the morning,   and that bicycle wasn’t–   The bicycle was taken away
by a Russian soldier.   He says, “It’s military goods.   It’s a form of transportation
that you cannot have.”   It was just an excuse
to take away the bike.   Then half of my belongings
was missing.   So I went into the local commander,
was also Jewish guys.   Everybody was Jewish.
All the officers.   Every officer was Jewish.   So he says, “I can give you 10 soldiers
to go look for it.   What good is it going to do?   While you look for the other suitcases,
somebody is going to steal this one.”   He said once they took it,
they can’t get it back.   He said, “Don’t waste time.
Go back to Poland.”   I said for myself, maybe he’s right.   See, when the Russian army
came into Poland,   they didn’t come
just as soldiers by themselves.   They had their wives,
their children, their girlfriends.   Everybody.   Anyways, what happened is   you didn’t know who they were.   They were Russians.   The soldier had his wife,
his mother, his uncle, his aunt.   Everybody was in the army with him,
as civilians.   They were occupation forces.   They were stealing.
They were robbing.   They did everything.   Finally, I went to a big city like Lodz.   I went to Lodz, and I had
some friends of mine in Lodz   that I was in camp with,   and I stayed at their place.   It was funny. Before I found them,
I went to the Jewish community.   I went in Lodz to the Jewish community,
and it was nighttime.   It was 5:00, 6:00 at night.   It got a little bit dark,   and I was sitting at the door
of the Jewish community,   figuring that I’m going
to sit there until morning,   until they open the offices.   Came a lady.   A Polish lady.   She looked at me
and she says to me that   “I know you’re Jewish.”   In Polish.   She says,
“I was married to a Jewish man   that the Nazis took away
and never came home.   I realize that you’re waiting
for the offices to be open,   but they’re not going to be open
until tomorrow morning.   If you want to come to my house,
I have a room   that I am forced to give
to a Polish officer,   but the officer went away.   So the room is empty,
and you can stay overnight.   But I know that you don’t trust me.   I have a couple visiting somebody,
a Jewish couple.   Wait until they come down,
and they will vouch for me.”   And that’s exactly the way it was.   She was waiting
for that couple anyways.   So the couple comes down,   and they guarantee me
there’s no problem.   That whatever she told me is true.   So I went with her to her apartment,   and she had a room ready for me.   I took a shower and washed myself
and cleaned myself   and was almost ready to go to bed.   The Polish officer come back.   Not only by himself, but he brought
maybe four other guys.   They brought
a case of vodka and food,   and we celebrated my liberation.   They celebrated my liberation
all night.   And I was drunk.   The following morning, I took off,
thanked them very much.   It was a very unusual evening.
Night, rather.   I went to the Jewish center in Warsaw,   in Lodz,   and I found people
that I was in camp with.   They opened a grocery store
right away.   Anyways, I wasn’t staying.   That’s not the reason
I came back to Poland.   I went to Warsaw, and I went
to Czestochowa, to Katowice,   to a lot of different cities in Poland,
looking for my brother.   I couldn’t find him.   I registered my name everywhere,   in case he registered his name,
so he knows I’m alive.   Then I sold
everything I had on my back,   except one shirt
and whatever I had on.   They had a market   that you could buy German marks
for Polish zlotys.   You see, the German–
Germany occupied Poland, right?   There were a lot of German marks,   and the Pollocks didn’t have
any use for German marks.   So you could buy, let’s see,   10,000 marks for one zloty,
which was nothing.   They gave you a lot of money
for your socks and for your pants,   and whatever I didn’t need I sold.   I put all the money around my body,   and I went to the Czechoslovakian border
to go back to Germany.   I didn’t have any papers,   but I had a paper
that I was liberated in Bavaria.   So the Polish guard on the border says,
“Where is your papers?”   I took out a paper,
and gave him my paper.   He says, “I can’t read that.”   So I figured,
even if he brings his superior   who could read,   he can tell that this is not exactly   a passport to go to Czechoslovakia.   So I left him holding the paper,
I turn around,   and I jumped up the train   that was on
the Czechoslovakian side–   Slovakia, then, on the Polish frontier–   and I locked myself in the toilet.   I was sitting there for about an hour
until the train left.   In a little while, I was in Prague.   That was the story.
From Prague, I went to Germany.   It was also
an interesting sequel to that.   In Prague, the Jewish boys
told me what to do.   He said, “Now that you’re in Prague,
go to the Polish consul   and tell him
that you’re on your way to Warsaw.   They’ll give you money.   They’ll give you lodging
and a hotel.   They’ll give you a permit
to stay in Prague for 10 days.   Also, you’ll be able
to go to a doctor   for an examination at no charge.”   So I went to the Polish consul
and I told him,   “I just came from Germany,
and I’m on my way to Poland.”   He says “Oh, wonderful.”   He did exactly what they
told me he was going to do.   He gave me some money   because I didn’t have
the Czechoslovakian kronen they used.   Also, food stamps.   At that time,
they still had food stamps.   Well, in 1945.   When I had all these privileges,
and I went to the doctor,   the doctor pronounced me fit,
nothing wrong.   It was a very lucky occasion
for me to know.   Then I went
to the Jewish organization   that organized transportation
to Germany.   Their objective was to get all
the Jewish boys and girls and families   that came through Czechoslovakia   from Poland and Russia to Germany.   So from Germany,
they should go register.   Either go to Israel,
Palestine at that time,   or America or wherever.   At least they’ll be out of Poland.   So they joined, and HIAS,
whoever was there,   worked with all the Jewish survivors   to get out of Poland
as fast as they can.   – Why?
– Because it was a bad place to be.   – Germany wasn’t?
– After the war.   It was worse than Germany
after the war?   It was worse. It was more dangerous
to be in Poland than in Germany.   In Germany, they organized
displaced person camps.   In Poland, they tried to kill you.   Jewish people in Poland
were in danger.   Many Jewish people in Poland
joined the police   and various Communist organizations
in order to be safe.   Very dangerous life.   Tell us how you moved
between Paris and Germany.   Oh, that was a different time.   Right now, I am telling you   the way we completed the exit   out of Poland,   back to Germany,
through Czechoslovakia.   Let’s stop here for a minute.   Yeah. Now, we came as a group.   We went from Czechoslovakia
back to Germany.   Our first station
was Munich, Germany.   In Munich, I took all my German marks
that I had with me,   and I changed it into dollars.   So I had just a few dollars
from a lot of German marks.   But I had dollars,
and they were worth a lot of money.   So with these dollars–   I was in Munich, and I found out
that a lot of my friends   that were in camp with me
were in Frankfurt am Main.   So I went to Frankfurt am Main.   I was in Frankfurt am Main
for a little while,   and I met a Polish officer   who I got acquainted with   who somehow
introduced himself to me,   and we became friendly.   He asked me if I would be interested
to go to Paris with him.   If I had money
to buy something in Germany,   so I could sell in Paris,
and the prices in Paris are tenfold.   So I trusted him, and he took me
to the Polish headquarters–   the Polish military headquarters
in Frankfurt am Main.   That was in 1946, in January.   They gave me a complete
custom-made outfit for me,   as a Polish officer.   I was an officer.   I was a lieutenant in the Polish army,   wearing an American uniform
with a side saying Poland.   He had all the legitimate papers
because he was a real officer.   He had all the papers listing me   with my Polish name,
date of birth, everything.   We went from Frankfurt.   I bought certain things in Frankfurt
in order to sell them in Paris.   We went on the American train   that went directly from Frankfurt
all the way to Paris.   No problems.   Then arriving in Paris–   We went to a certain area
where he knew hotels.   And we registered in a hotel.   So he left me in Paris,
and he went to Belgium.   But he told me where to go in Paris,   where the Jewish neighborhood is.   He said, “Once you go to the Jewish
neighborhood, you’ll have no problem.   You’ll find things for yourself.”   He figured that if I had money
to buy stuff in Germany,   I’ll find my way through Paris.   That’s exactly the way it was.   When I went into
the Jewish neighborhood,   I found guys,
and I sold what I had with me,   and I got
a substantial amount of money.   Well, I waited.
We had a 10-day furlough in Paris.   We were supposed
to go back to Frankfurt.   That was our idea.   Ten days later, he was supposed
to pick me up in Paris   to go back to Frankfurt am Main,
but he never showed up.   So I wore the uniform.   I went to Champs Elysées.   I walk on Champs Elysées,
and all the Polish soldiers salute me.   I’m an officer.   Interesting.   Then I went back
to the Jewish neighborhood,   and I got acquainted with a man
who has a factory.   A clothing factory.   He had dinner in that restaurant,
and I had dinner in that restaurant.   We start talking, and I ask him,
“How do you stay in Paris?   Now that this guy doesn’t come back,
what do I do?”   He says, “Don’t worry about it.
I’ll give you a contract.   You work for me for a year and–   You don’t have to work,
but I’ll give you the contract.”   And with this contract,
you go to theprefect de police,  you know, the city hall.   If you have a contract to work,
they give you a permit to stay in Paris.   That’s exactly the way it was.
Now I’m a legitimate citizen of Paris.   So I shed my uniform,   and I bought some civilian clothes.   You’ve got to have money.   Then I met some young Jewish guys,   and they told me what to do.   They say, “Listen.   You have to learn French.   Otherwise, it’s very hard to live here
unless you speak French.”   So they took me   to some kind of organization that   had the Eiffel family chateau   to the disposition
of the Jewish family service in Paris.   That particular chateau contained
only Jewish boys from Poland   and from France and Romania
and Czechoslovakia and Hungary.   Boys that were in Paris
that have no family.   All of us were young, single men.   They enabled us, every day.   We stayed there in the chateau.   They gave us food, lodging.   No money.
No charge.   They gave us money
for transportation,   and we had to go
to thel’Ecole l’Alliance Française  to learn French.   In six weeks, I was speaking French.
I had no problem.   So I left that chateau,
and I rented a hotel,   and I went back to Germany.   I bought merchandise,
brought it again back.   As a civilian, but different papers.   Everything legitimate
because I was a resident of Paris.   So that went on for me
for about three years.   What were those years?   From 1946–   From 1946 to 1949.   Then in 1949,   the borders
became a little bit more strict.   You had to have
more official papers.   You had to have visas.   Everybody regained their authority.   The German area
was not occupied anymore.   They had their own government
and their own border patrols.   So instead of going
directly on a train to France   and having just one border patrol,   we had two border patrols.   Now I had a German border patrol
and a French border patrol.   It gets to be more complicated.   So I decided I want to leave,
go to America.   I registered in Germany
to go to America,   and I waited about three months.   I came to America in 1949,
in October.   About November.   In the end of October.   November of 1949, I came to a city   called Modesto, California.   They sponsored me.   They only were looking
for single Jewish boys,   and I was a single Jewish boy.   I was in Modesto for three months.   I couldn’t speak English.   In Modesto,
they wanted me to go to school.   I was of the opinion
that I’m too old to go to school.   All I wanted is a job,
and they gave me–   I got a job by a Jewish man   that had a jewelry store in Modesto.   He gave me a job.
Paid me $25 a week.   With this $25 a week, I was going
to school at night to learn English.   They gave me lodging.   So the $25 was just for food.   I managed pretty well.   Then six weeks later–   it was in January of 1950–   I talked to the people of Modesto,   and I told them that I speak English
well enough to go to a big city   because I am from a big city
and I couldn’t live in a small community.   And they agreed with me.   So I went to Los Angeles,   and I got myself a job   in a rubber stamp company
in Los Angeles.   The first three days I was in the city,
I got a job.   The going rate for the minimum wage
was 65 cents an hour.   When I got a job setting type–   barely speaking English–   the company offered me
$1.35 an hour.   I was very happy
because it was unbelievable money.   Then about two weeks later they say,
“We’ll give you a raise to $1.65.   Plus, we give you
all the overtime you can handle.”   I was very happy.
I was all alone.   A single man.   Then three months after I was
in Los Angeles, I bought a car.   I bought a car for cash, $350.   Right away, a rich man.   I met my wife in the meantime.   We got married in December of 1950.   In December 1950, I still worked
setting type for a little while.   Then I went with my wife
buying a pair of shoes,   and I looked at that shoe business   and I said, “You know,
I like the look– I like that.”   So I decided to look into it,   and eventually I got a job
as a shoe salesman.   A few weeks later,
I was the manager of a shoe store.   After a certain time
being a manager of a shoe store,   I opened my own shoe store.   At one time
during my shoe business career,   I had three shoe stores
in Los Angeles.   I was married.
Children were born.   I had one son born in 1953,   and another son born in 1957,   and a third son was born in 1960.   They all live in Los Angeles.   Two of them are married,   and, thank God,
I have seven grandchildren.   Going back a little while–
this is 1990–   my wife got sick.   She died in March of 1990.   I was a widower then.   By that time,
my children were grown,   and with seven grandchildren,
I was established.   I had a new business.   The end of ’92,   I was lucky enough
to get acquainted with a lady   that happen to be my wife
at the present.   Her name is Rita Lowy Moore.   We’re married.   We knew each other
for about three years,   but we married
about a year and a half.   She is a member of my family   as well as her family’s
a member of our family.   Two families got together,
and we just like each other so much.   It’s almost like loving each other.   Especially the grandchildren
and my children   are in love with her,
that’s for sure.   And her children
have a wonderful relationship with me.   – That’s good.
– So this is my story.   You’re still in the construction
business at this point?   Right now,
I am in the construction business.   For the last 12 years,   I was in the–   This 1983,   I am in the home construction,   reconstruction business,
with a partner,   and I’m very happy doing what I do.   And I’m still working.   This is–   September 1995.   How did your Holocaust experience
sort of shape the way you look at life?   My Holocaust experience taught me
that life is just destiny.   Destiny.   Every one of us
is destined for a different experience.   My experience is–   I told you my story   that this was probably my destiny.   In the Jewish, we say it’sbashert.  Each one of us
has a different destiny.   Is it to be called–   You have to be in the right place
at the right time   and have a little luck.   You can call it that.   Everyone calls it differently.   But basically, this is what it is.   I was in the right place
at the right time, and I survived.   Did you remain religious?   Have you remained religious?   I had many years
that I wasn’t religious at all.   But when my children   came of the age of going to school,   I decided to become religious again,   mostly because of them.   Because I didn’t want them
not to have the experiences that I had.   At least they’d know about it.   All my children went to yeshiva.   My middle son went to yeshiva
in the beginning,   and then he didn’t want to go,   so he went to public school.   My oldest son went to yeshiva,   and he graduated yeshiva school
in Los Angeles.   Rabbi Wasserman’s yeshiva
on the Westside.   He’s a highly educated person.   He’s a PhD in psychology.   My middle son became a CPA.   My youngest son went
to Hebrew school all his life,   except for the universities.   He graduated the Rambam,
in the Westside.   Rambam High School.   He went to the university.
Yeshiva University in New York.   He went to yeshiva in San Jose,   and the University of San Jose.   He went
to the University of San Diego.   He went to college of optometry
in Fullerton.   Right?   He is now a practicing doctor   in the San Fernando Valley.   He is married.
He has three children.   My oldest son is married,   and he has four children.   So I’m a grandpa, and I have
a brand-new grandma   for my grandchildren.   Would you say that having your family,
your children and your wife–   your two wives, one after the other,   helped you fill the emptiness that you felt
losing your family so early?   You lost everyone.   I lost everyone in my family,
and I build my own family.   I created a family, brand-new,
and I feel good about it.   Because I was all alone.   I’m not alone, and thank God.   My wife of 40 years,
that was my partner.   It’s just one of those destinies
that she is not with us.   But thank God,
like we say in Jewish.   In Jewish, we always say thank God.   Even the non-believers
say thank God.   True, isn’t it?   So I have a wife,
and thank God that I’m happy.   Okay, good.
Thank you very much.   Rita, would you like to give us
your full name?   All the way through.
Rita Panster was my maiden name.   Then I was Rita Panster Lowy.   Now I’m Rita Panster Lowy Moore.   I’d like to ask you how it has been for you
living with a survivor.   When Maurice told me his story,   I really couldn’t believe
all that he had gone through.   He’s such an amazing person.   He loves life.   He knows how to live life.   He has made me appreciate
even more what I had   and be thankful for having met him   because he’s just added so much
to our existence with each other.   Is there anything else
you’d like to say, Rita,   before I ask Maurice
another question?   No, I think this is his life.   All I can say
is for everything he’s been through,   he’s just remarkable.   I don’t know how other survivors are,
personally.   My first husband was also a survivor,
but he was very young at the time.   But to come through all that he did   and love life the way he does   is really wonderful.   Maurice, you did talk
about how you believe   that a lot of what happened
to you was destiny.   Is there anything else that you
would like to say to future generations,   based on the Holocaust?   Destiny is also
something that you make.   You make it happen.   You have to believe in yourself.   Life is very precious   because we only have
one time around.   So when we respect life   and the things
that were given to us,   it’s a miracle in itself.   Okay.
Well, thank you very much.   This document shows
that I was a prisoner in Auschwitz,   and I arrived to Auschwitz   on December–   in the month of December 1942.   I was taken out of Auschwitz,   from a sub-camp of Auschwitz,   to Buchenwald in January of 1945.   This is a statement   from the now governing office   of the museum in Auschwitz,
in Poland.   This picture is taken of me–   in 1946.   The reason for that picture is mainly   because the tie that I wear
was given to me   by an American soldier
in Frankfurt, Germany.   So that I remember,   and the picture is here to prove it.   Did you say that you had
that tie for a long time?   I had it for about 45 years.   This picture
was taken of me in a studio   by a professional photographer
in 1945.   About the end of ’45.   Not bad.   This picture depicts a memorial   to the ghetto fighters in Warsaw,   which is built on the area   where I used to live before the war.   That street does not exist anymore
as a functioning street,   except it’s a memorial park
in the city of Warsaw.   This picture is part of the memorial   to the ghetto fighters of Warsaw,
depicting their leader,   and his name is Anielewicz.   He was killed in the fighting   in the Warsaw ghetto in 1943.   Maurice, you said that when
you went back to Warsaw,   it was not the same as before?   The streets of Warsaw
were rebuilt entirely differently,   and the people that were not
in Warsaw for many years   could not find their way,   so differently rebuilt is the city.   This is the gates in Auschwitz   that I came through in 1942,
in December.   The same gates, the same camp
that I revisited in 1995   to the 50th anniversary
of the liberation.   And the sign above the gate?   The sign above the gate says?   The sign above the gate
saysArbeit Macht Frei.  Work keeps you free.   This building depicts the barracks   that I was taken to in 1942
in Auschwitz,   waiting to be taken to work.   I spend there 10 days
in the month of December in 1942.   Luckily so, for me.   This picture depicts my first wife.   Her name was Dolly,   and we were married for 40 years.   This picture was taken approximately
in 19–   I would say ’65, ‘66.   This picture shows my wife–   my present wife, God love her.   And I love her.   We’re together now
for about 18 months,   and we hope to be together
the rest of our lives.   This picture to the left   represents my wife and I
and my three sons.   To the left is Ira.   He is my middle son.   Next to him, to his right, is Jan.   Dr. Jan Moore.   And to myself and my wife.   Then Doctor Brian Moore,
my oldest son.   This was during your wedding?   This is during our wedding.   And the date again?   – Nineteen–
– May 29th–   – Ninety-four.
– Right.   May 29, 1994.   May 29, ‘94.   This picture depicts–   The elderly lady is my wife’s mother,   and her name is Rae Panster.   Next to her
is my daughter-in-law, Anne.   My son Brian’s wife.   Next to her is–
the lady, her name is–   My daughter-in-law.
She’s Lori.   And next to Lori is my granddaughter,   standing next to my wife.   Her name is Jessica.   My wife’s name is Rita.   Next to Rita is my son, Ira.   Then next to Ira, a little bit to the right,
is Brian, my oldest son.   And right in front of him, next to myself,
is my son Jan.   Next to me, standing to my right,
is my grandson–   – Richard.
– Richard.   Next to him, the young man is my–   grandson, Jason.   Standing up.   Now we’re going to the girls.   The girl next to Jason is Shelley.   She is between two boys.   The little girl, and to the left is–   What’s her name?   We’re going to get back to her.   The little boy, his name is Andrew.   Sitting with the funny face.   Next to Andrew, to the right,
is Morasha.   The little girl’s name is?   – Devorah.
– Devorah.   Now we’ve got them all.    

7 thoughts on “Holocaust Survivor Maurice Moore Testimony

  • What a great man, when he smiles the sun starts shining! In spite of everything he went through he is able to tell his interesting story in a humorous and sober way… chapeau! Good interviewer too!

  • What a delightful man! What stories!

    I do wish I had known him better. Sadly, I just came from his shiva minyan. He was truly a gem.

  • What a great testimony.. love his personality. So glad he survived. Happy he was liberated by the Americans

  • I was hoping that there might be photos of his family so that we may learn their names and when he possibly found out that his brother, too, had perished. I'm afraid I don't agree that the interviewer did her job well. I thoroughly enjoyed all that Maurice recorded for posterity

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