This page presents a lightly-edited transcript of an oral interview with Klara Schnytzer, a Holocaust survivor from Rohatyn, a town now in western Ukraine. Background information to this interview, including a biography of Klara and information about the original recording, is available on the main interview page.
The editing in this version of the transcript is intended to help comprehension and interpretation of some of the spoken narrative. For reference and to get a feel for the exact language used by Klara and the interviewer during the recording, the full, unedited transcript is also available.
In the transcript, the time stamp at the start of each passage indicates elapsed time from the start of the recording, in minutes and seconds: [MM:SS]. The interviewer’s questions are indicated with an “I”: [I MM:SS]. Note: the time stamps are approximate.
[I 00:03] Today is the 14th of January, and I, Ursula Flicker, am interviewing Mrs. Klara Schnytzer. Could you please tell me, what happened to you and your family between the years of 1939 and 1945?
[00:25] [garbled] in 1941 they immediately made a ghetto, taking us all together, from all the neighboring cities as well, all Jews, and we lived three or four families in one room. In 1942, on the 20th of March, they started shooting at 7 o’clock in the morning, and finished at 4 o’clock. We lost 3000 people, all lying in one grave. On this particular day I lost my father and my youngest sister. By a miracle, my mother came earlier, and we heard shots, so we moved to the second floor, and we stayed there. At 4 o’clock, they finished shooting.
[01:18] I remember it was very cold, and there was frozen blood all over the ghetto, and only 45 families remained having both husband and wife. There were families of which no one was left behind. Later on they kept coming to the ghetto asking for money and furs, and they created the Jewish police and the Judenrat, and…
[I 01:46] Well, that’s what I would like to ask you: How was the Jewish community organized, by the Germans, when they arrived?
[01:55] They told us we had to have a Judenrat, and we had to have police. I must admit, the police particularly in our city were very nice young men, from very nice families, and they tried to help us as much they could. But unfortunately they had no choice, and they were not asked what to do.
[02:16] So, then we stayed in the ghetto until Yom Kippur.
[I 02:22] Yom Kippur 1942.
[02:25] 1942. On Yom Kippur, we pleaded with everybody not to go to the synagogues. But nobody listened, everybody headed to the synagogues. After about 10 o’clock in the morning, the Germans knew the Jews were in the synagogue, so they started again to shoot, and everybody had to go out, they met them all in the marketplace, and there some [garbled] were shot at that place and some were taken away.
[I 02:53] Do you remember the name of the commandant who was in your town?
[03:03] In the first 1942 action, his name was Miller; they came from Tarnopol.
[I 03:14] That was a Volksdeutsche?
[03:15] No, this was a real German. And after the Yom Kippur action, the same trouble continued. We were always afraid, we were not allowed to go out of the ghetto, of course straight away we had to wear the white bands with the Magen David. And on the 8th of December, it happened exactly the same, they started to shoot people.
[I 03:49] Did they shoot them in the street?
[03:51] In the street, when they had taken them out of the houses, and on the street, if somebody tried to run away they shot them, exactly the same. And the last action was on the 6th of June 1943, it was a Saturday, and Rohatyn was judenfrei.
[04:08] So, some people were lucky enough to escape, but a lot of them were taken out of their bunkers and shot.
[I 04:17] Were there any deportations to concentration camps?
[04:21] No, no, it was just shooting on the spot. And I suppose I was the lucky one, who had a place with Ukrainian people where I could be hidden.
[I 04:40] Before we go any further – in the ghetto, how did you obtain food?
[04:46] Some people sort of tried to go out of the ghetto. Among the people in the city, Ukrainians and Poles, there were a lot who helped the Germans to murder us, but some of them were quite nice people, and they brought things in. And the Jewish children used to take off their bands and used to go out. And that kept us, in a sense, a bit alive.
[I 05:08] So the food was reaching the ghetto, to some degree.
[05:11] It did reach us to some degree, yes.
[I 05:13] And how were the sanitary conditions? What did you have for hospitals, medical care – were there doctors in the ghetto?
[05:21] There were doctors in the ghetto, Jewish doctors.
[I 05:25] And could they practice?
[05:27] They had to help people, because we also had typhus, of course because it was very dirty. But they helped us. There were some doctors from outside the ghetto, non-Jewish doctors, and they also tried to help.
[I 05:46] And what was happening with the Russian soldiers? Did you have any Russian soldiers that stayed behind?
[05:54] No, no.
[I 05:55] Nothing – they withdrew straight away.
[05:56] They withdrew straight away, yes. And of course, in the last action, I lost my husband. And three months before Russia freed us, I lost my mother. And when the Russians returned, Ukrainians murdered my sister. So I stayed on my own.
[I 06:19] Do you remember how your parents and your husband died? Was it just shooting, or were they running away, or were they…
[06:30] Father, I was told that he was taken away on the 20th of March, still with his tallis; he was davening, praying. And my sister was running into a village, and she was told by Ukrainians there, you don’t belong here, so she was sent to the… she was shot but I don’t know where. She was shot somewhere in the street or at the graves.
[I 06:58] They were herding people to dig their own graves?
[07:02] Yes, they started to dig the graves before the 20th of March. They were told by the Germans that it was for making bricks. Some people did not believe it. But nobody had any other choice. And these graves, the Jews… and there was a lot…
[I 07:22] They had to prepare themselves.
[07:23] And later on, in the graves, there were hundreds and hundreds still alive, so they poured lime over them. So, that was the first action. The other one, they took them away dead. I don’t know where, because I was always in hiding.
[I 07:46] Yes, for sure, you heard all, later on, what happened.
[07:49] Yes, I was in the city for all of the actions. But I always had enough luck to stay alive.
[I 07:56] Yes, well, that was your destiny.
[I 08:01] Could you tell us also, in the ghetto, how people washed themselves? Did you have water? Hot water, cold water, was it running, from taps, or did you have to bring water from wells?
[08:15] We had to bring water from wells.
[I 08:18] And the toilets were operational, or ?
[08:19] The toilets were operational. It was very dirty just the same, in many places, and because of that we had typhus. It was because there were so many people in one place.
[I 08:30] Yes, for sure. Now, could you continue with your story, when the last action took place?
[08:40] When the last action took place, I was not in the ghetto, but I stayed with a Ukrainian family in the city, in Rohatyn. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I was woken up by shots. I was with my girlfriends, so I told them we should dress ourselves the last action had begun. We were afraid that the Ukrainian lady who kept us hidden would come and tell us to go. But she was very kind, and she told us to undress, she had taken our pictures, she had taken our papers, and she said, if anybody comes, I will say you are my two daughters.
[I 09:14] Do you remember her name?
[09:15] Yes, she was the wife of the commissar of the Ukrainian police. He always said that he didn’t know that we were there, but his wife and the children knew. His name was Baczynski.
[I 09:27] And the lady’s name, who saved you?
[09:31] The lady, Mrs. Baczynski, I don’t know her first name. But she had two daughters, Lida and Tanya, who loved us very much, and slept with my ghetto friend and me, in their room. And there, we never were hungry; this I have to admit, we had everything.
[09:48] But three months before the Russians came, there was fighting near Tarnopol, and she became afraid of the Russians, so she told us that we had to leave because she and her family were going to run away. By chance, I found out that my younger sister was 5 kilometers from Rohatyn, in a village. So at night, the lady brought me to a relative, 3 kilometers away, and the next day I went to where my sister was hiding. I stayed with her at first, in a wheat field, and later on he dug a small pit, near the river bank. We stayed there for the next four months.
[10:38] And when Russia came to save us, near the end of 1944, I managed to return to the city. Unfortunately, later on the Ukrainians found my sister and they murdered her with the fellow who hid us together.
[I 10:59] I see. Well, if you go back in your memory, when staying with this Mrs. Baczynski, what did you do during the day? Do you remember what activities…?
[11:16] Yes, I every day I sat in the window, behind the curtains, and watched to see whether somebody was coming to pick us up.
[I 11:25] I see, so your full heart must have…
[11:28] Yes, whenever I saw anybody, I was always afraid that someone would come. But as the lady was the wife of the commissar of the Ukrainian police, she was not particularly afraid that anyone would come. Although she risked her life, I must admit, because if they had found us there, the whole family would have been murdered.
[I 11:50] Well, from what I can see in your photo, you did not look particularly Jewish.
[11:55] No. I had…
[I 11:57] Did you have any papers?
[11:58] Yes, I had very good papers. I even had a passport, a Russian one which they gave us in 1939 and 1940. A girlfriend gave me her picture, which I used on my passport, as if was my own. But unfortunately I have a true Jewish heart and I could not stay away. I went away all the time, and after every action I was back, because I always wanted to be where Jews were. So I had papers but I couldn’t use them, because this was not… I couldn’t do it. And so, this way, I had to hide.
[I 12:33] You had to.
[12:34] Yes. Also, I was sent to Warsaw. The Rohatyn ghetto was still active, and I was taken by a Jewish fellow who promised to get me a kennkarte, a work ID card. When we arrived in Lwów, he left me and went somewhere to send a telegram, I didn’t know where. While traveling from Lwów to Warsaw, he told me that in Lublin somebody arrested a Jew on the train and took him off. So I told him, look, on the train, we should pretend that I don’t know you, because you are a Jew and may be recognized quickly, but I would not be. So, he agreed.
[13:12] But when we got to Warsaw, a Polish policeman approached us and said to the man with me, you are Jewish. And they took us away to the 1st commissariat of Polish police. When we went up there, they sent my companion out of the room, and I stayed with the commissioner. He started to yell at me that I was Jewish, and what I was doing in Warsaw? So I said I’m not Jewish, and I had come because I needed a doctor. Then he started to ask me if I know something about religion. Probably God gave me something, an answer, that I didn’t believe in religion and I didn’t go to church. So he yelled at me that he would send me to the Gestapo. I said you can do that, or you can call to my city and they will tell you that I am who I say, and that my husband lives in Rohatyn. And after a while, they sent me out, and then they brought in the fellow who had taken me to Warsaw, and they asked me if I would buy him out. So I agreed.
[14:18] When we went in to the office, the Jewish fellow said to the commissioner, could you make me a kennkarte? And the commissioner asked him, for whom do you need the kennkarte? He said, for her. And the commissioner said I don’t believe it, she is not Jewish; she drove me so crazy that she cannot be Jewish. After this, the commissioner said that his brother made the kennkartes, but someone had caught some Jews, and he was afraid now to do it, so I had to wait. But as my husband and my family were still in the ghetto, I decided to go back. Because I knew that when I lost everyone, they would trick me and I would have no money, so they would kill me anyway. So I went back.
[I 14:59] And tell me, how was it then, traveling on trains? Could you freely buy tickets, from one city to another?
[15:06] Yes, yes.
[I 15:08] Didn’t they ask for any documents?
[15:10] No. I had perfect documents. I had each and every one. And as matter of fact, the commissar from the Ukrainian police told my husband, when she goes somewhere, she should not show all her papers; she should only show the kennkarte that she got from the police here. Because, by showing all the papers, one could recognize Jews. So I did exactly as he told me, and they never asked me for all of my papers. I got the tickets, and I traveled. But I always came back.
[I 15:37] Yes, I can see that. Well, this is one time, when you dared to go out of Rohatyn, and went to Warsaw. Did you go anywhere else?
[15:51] Yes, before that, I had traveled; I went to Stryj. I stayed with a lady there, and she was sure that I was non-Jewish. But I always tried to go where the ghetto was, my heart was always – I felt that I belonged there. So one day I felt that she must know something, so I decided to go home. And when I came to Chodorów – was the station before our city – I met a Polish girl from our city, and she started to frighten me that she was going to send me to the Gestapo. So I told her, why are you going to do this to me? If you come to our city, we’ll give you money. And, somehow she decided to let me go, so I went home. But she never showed up, because there was a Polish policeman, a very good one, and he said, if she comes then I will teach her a lesson.
[I 16:44] I see, so you had to deal with blackmail.
[16:48] Yes, I had to deal with blackmail, yes. But somehow I was always lucky enough to talk myself out of it.
[I 16:56] Yes, I can see that. And did other people try to escape, and were they blackmailed to go back? Do you know of any, in your experience?
[17:07] There were a lot of people going out, and they had to come back. Some went out – my cousin went out, and somebody sent her to the Gestapo, and she was murdered.
[I 17:17] So there was very quick action after they found out you were Jews.
[17:21] Oh, yes, yes. The Germans probably did not know particularly who was Jewish, when I went out, or anybody else, without my band, but Ukrainian people or Polish people used to say, Jüdische, so they knew exactly who they were.
[I 17:36] They could tell straight away.
[17:37] Oh, yes.
[I 17:39] Did you work during this time of occupation?
[17:41] No. No.
[I 17:44] And how come… did you have money from home? How did you manage for money, if I may ask?
[17:52] We had still money, because luckily enough my family, my husband’s family, was a rich family. So we had money. He had lots of non-Jewish friends also, and before the ghetto started, we were given potatoes by the Ukrainian people, so that I had a full cellar. I used to even help other people who did not have any.
[I 18:18] I see. Well, what kind of money was it?
[18:25] Złotys. Polish złotys.
[I 18:27] Polish złotys. And they accepted it during the occupation.
[18:30] Yes, they accepted it. And of course, those who did not have any money, then usually somebody had rings, or jewelry. Not that it was much because everybody had to give those things to the Germans.
[I 18:41] Exactly, that’s what I am asking.
[18:42] Yes, they asked for thousands of furs, but in our city I don’t think that there were even three Jewish ladies who had furs. So we had to put money together from everybody buy them in other towns, to give to the Germans.
[I 18:58] And what happened to these furs?
[19:00] The Germans took them away.
[I 19:01] To Germany?
[19:03] Probably. I don’t know, it must have been.
[I 19:06] When you go back in your experience, what was the most terrible thing that you remember? What was the most shocking experience that you…
[19:21] The most shocking experience was when they first started to shoot us. We still were in bed when we heard shooting. We had not believed it, when people told us before that 60 kilometers from us they were already shooting Jews. This was the worst experience. And of course any other one – every time we had to go to the bunkers because the Gestapo was coming. Not that they were always shooting, but we were always were afraid, we always had a terrible time.
[I 19:50] Yes, I can imagine. Did you suffer actual physical beating, or any mishandling?
[19:58] Not me.
[I 19:59] You didn’t…
[20:01] I was always lucky enough to not be there.
[I 20:04] Could you say: was resistance possible, at that time?
[20:11] Not particularly, because every Ukrainian and every Pole were against the Jews. However, before the last action, the young people had pistols, and they tried to resist, but there were too few of them.
[I 20:37] Did you have any partisans, in your district?
[20:41] Not Jewish ones. Unfortunately, we had Ukrainians, who murdered the most Jews…
[I 20:48] In the woods.
[20:49] In the woods, because the Germans were afraid to go to the woods – the Ukrainians did.
[I 20:53] The Ukrainians did.
[20:54] Oh, yes.
[I 20:56] And do you know why?
[20:58] Because Hitler promised Ukrainians a free Ukraine. So they said Ukraine had to be only for Ukrainians, and as Hitler said, Judenfrei; there shouldn’t be any Jews.
[I 21:13] Is it very difficult for you to discuss your experiences?
[21:18] Yes, it is, because I remember. I have never forgotten it, but it’s very hard to remember losing everyone this way.
[I 21:28] Do you carry any physical reminders of your wartime experiences?
[21:38] Yes, I suffer with my ankles because I was sitting on the river bank, and there was snow and water under us; it was tight there.
[I 21:45] Would it be very painful for you to describe how it felt to be in that bunker? What was going on in your mind. You were a girl of…
[I 22:00] Twenty-two. What were you thinking, what were you talking about with your sister, what was the day like, how did you fill it?
[22:08] We were all… the bunker was so small, that we could not stand up, we had to lie down or sit, and if we wanted to turn, we had to turn both together. In front of us there was just a small window; we put grass there, so we wouldn’t be seen. And we just watched, always. When we heard a dog barking, we knew that Ukrainians were coming to look for us. But of course, as I said, we were lucky enough that they never found us.
[22:40] The Germans had maneuvers then, and they just missed us by maybe a foot, running down the hill. And what were we talking about? We were only praying to God that we could remain alive, to get out of there. We prayed to God that Russia would win the war and come soon to free us. What could we talk about? I didn’t know that my husband was murdered. I only learned later that my mother was murdered three months before Russia came.
[I 23:07] Did you go out during the day?
[23:09] No. No. We didn’t go out at all.
[I 23:13] You didn’t go for walks?
[23:14] No. Not at all. We couldn’t go out.
[I 23:16] And did the peasant bring you food?
[23:19] Yes. Yes, he gave us food. The thing is, I wasn’t hungry.
[I 23:23] You weren’t.
[I 23:25] How did the food come to you?
[23:28] He came at night; he took off the window, the grass, and he gave it to us through the window.
[I 23:37] And did you suffer from animals, or…?
[23:41] From animals? No.
[I 23:43] No? There were no rats, or mice, no?
[I 23:47] Was it dry there, when it rained?
[23:49] It was dry during summer, but unfortunately we were sitting there in autumn, winter, and spring, so when the snow started to thaw, we had water inside. We stayed like this.
[I 24:01] But in the winter, did you have enough clothing for you, to keep warm?
[24:05] Yes, when I went there, we went out of the ghetto with a coat, and with a pullover, and we had even a feather bed and cushions in there. But later on, when I went out, I went in just a dress, and then I lost everything. I had nothing else.
[I 24:21] At that time, what were your feelings toward Judaism?
[24:29] Oh, I think I felt more Jewish than I ever had before. I would never change, and I cannot understand other people who do it.
[I 24:40] What do you think helped you to survive?
[24:43] I think, first of all, I am tremendously optimistic, I am a real optimist, and I always had hope that I would survive. I also had dreams. I had dreams of my husband, who told me that he would not allow anyone to do harm to me. I did not know that he was not alive then. I also saw my father in my dreams, and I knew when I saw him that nothing would happen to me.
[I 25:09] It’s very, very interesting. And that kept you…
[25:13] This kept me going; it always does.
[I 25:18] When did you learn about the horrors of Nazism? Do you remember when the news sifted into the ghetto, or wherever you were, about the concentration camps – did you know anything about them?
[25:31] We did not know, in the ghetto, about the concentration camps. We only knew that in the region, like in Lwów and Stanisławów, and in the smaller cities, that they were shooting. But we didn’t know anything about the concentration camps then, because they were very far away from us.
[I 25:44] Did you learn later on, when you were in the bunker, or when…?
[25:49] No. No, we heard only when we came to freedom.
[I 25:53] And when you left the bunker, what did you do with yourself? After the four months?
[25:58] After the four months, the Ukrainian fellow took me into the fields; I had to go about 3 o’clock in the morning, so that nobody would see me. The wheat was very high. When I heard somebody walking, I went into the wheat. He went first to the city, to see who came out to freedom. Then when he came from the city, he said there are a few Jewish people whom I knew, including my future husband, and he told him to bring us all. So I walked the five kilometers at 3 o’clock in the morning, until I came to a house where my girlfriend had lived. And there, I sat; I couldn’t get up, because my feet, my ankles were completely swollen. I couldn’t walk for maybe a week, because of my sitting in the bunker.
[26:49] And later on, I had nothing, so after few weeks my future husband and I decided to go away. We walked with the Russians, where they were going, so we walked until we came to Katowice, and there we married; from there we went to Budapest.
[I 27:08] Right, just a minute. When you were in the confinement of your bunker and in similar situations, what were your feelings toward Jews?
[27:21] I felt sorry for them. I was still Jewish, and I felt Jewish. I was only sorry about what was happening to them.
[I 27:37] What was your mental condition after liberation, if I may ask?
[27:45] Oh, I was all right. When I came out of hiding, I just realized what had happened, that I had lost everybody, but my mental condition was all right. I knew what I was doing.
[I 28:01] Where did you find comfort during the war? You know, everyone finds comfort in something. What gave you the best comfort, then? Meeting with your sister, was it…?
[28:18] I couldn’t meet with my sister, because when I went to freedom, my sister was supposed to come a week or two later, and unfortunately she was murdered by Ukrainians with the Ukrainian person who kept us. So my comfort was just the few friends which came after we gained freedom. And we left together, because I was afraid of my own shadow.
[I 28:41] I see; that’s very frightening to think about. Have you discussed your experiences with your son?
[28:55] Yes. My son knows everything. My son knew that I was married before, my son knew who I lost, he knows that everyone died. And I feel that children should know what we went through. And every film, whatever comes out, he always sees it.
[I 29:12] I see, so, actually he relates to your story, and he does not reject or fight against it?
[29:18] No, no.
[I 29:21] He is compassionate? He is understanding?
[29:22] Yes, he is. He knows, yes, he is very understanding, he knows what we went through.
[I 29:29] When you left Poland for Budapest, why was the choice Budapest?
[29:38] First of all, the Poles were also not very friendly to Jews, and as we had nothing, we had nothing to lose, so we went with the Russian trucks to Budapest. We stayed in Budapest a year. It was much nicer.
[I 29:55] Who did you stay in Budapest with? Did you find Jewish communal organizations?
[30:00] Not organizations; first we stayed in a place with an old Jewish lady, and then we moved to our own place, a non-Jewish family gave us a room. We stayed in Budapest for one year.
[I 30:15] And from Budapest, where did you go?
[30:17] We went to Germany. They took us to a camp, but we didn’t want to stay in it, so we went privately to Regensburg in Bavaria.
[I 30:28] And what did you do, what did your husband do in Regensburg?
[30:32] Oh, like anybody, they did… business. And then after four years in Regensburg, we went to Berlin. We had two businesses in Berlin.
[I 30:45] In Berlin. Which one, East or West?
[30:48] The West. Then we decided, as my son was reaching 4 years old, that we did not want to bring up our son in Germany. We decided to come to Australia.
[I 31:03] Before we get to that story, could you tell me, when was your son born?
[31:08] My son was born on the 31st of December 1947, in Regensburg.
[I 31:13] And in Berlin, where did you live? Were there special…?
[31:19] On the Hubertusallee, in Grunewald.
[I 31:22] And what kind of place, did you rent it?
[31:25] Yes, we rented a flat.
[I 31:28] By yourselves? Or were there Jewish organizations active?
[31:31] No, by ourselves.
[I 31:32] And did you obtain any help from the overseas Jewish organizations at that time?
[31:39] They gave us some things, in Regensburg the UNRRA gave us things for the baby. But my husband was not particularly keen on taking charity, so I worked for it.
[I 31:53] I see. And in Berlin, when you decided to go to Australia, what did you have to do? How did you get permission to come…?
[32:00] In Lublin we met a Jewish family, a husband and wife, and we became very friendly with them. They also went to Budapest, but they decided to emigrate to Australia, I don’t know how, but they did, and we corresponded, and they sent us the papers. And of course we didn’t paid our fare to here, we were paid by UNRRA or whatever.
[I 32:25] By the Joint?
[32:26] The Joint. And we came to Australia; they sent us the…
[I 32:29] You came to Melbourne? Directly?
[32:30] Yes. Straight to Melbourne.
[I 32:33] How did you feel when you arrived in Australia? Was it very important for you to leave Europe?
[32:39] It was important for us particularly to leave Germany, because we did not want reminders of what we had gone through.
[I 32:46] When you arrived in Australia, how did you feel?
[32:54] Oh, we felt all right. We had to start to work, but we liked it.
[I 33:01] Yes. Did you make it a second home?
[33:04] This is my home.
[I 33:06] When you think back now, from all the bad that happened to Jewish people, do you think that anything good arrived from it? When you think about so many people, so many millions, six million died, is there a way, sort of…
[33:27] I think that we lost six million but we gained a country. We gained Israel.
[I 33:36] Yes, and what are your feelings about Israel?
[33:38] I love it.
[I 33:39] You love it. Yes. Now, if I ask you, has Australia helped you to rehabilitate yourself…?
[33:47] Yes. Yes, they did.
[I 33:51] You had the possibility that you could get education for your son…
[33:54] Yes, that’s right, yes. They gave education to my son, and we found that this is our home, and we can give him what he wanted; he worked, and we gave him.
[I 34:05] Now you are very proud of him; he is a professor isn’t he, at the university?
[34:07] I am very proud. He is a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics.
[I 34:13] Could you think about this, during the war, when you were in the ghetto or later on, when you met your husband, that you would have a son and he would become a professor of economics?
[34:29] I didn’t dream about it in the ghetto. But when I came to freedom, as a widow, and my new husband was also a widower, we decided to marry. But before, he went through a lot in the ghetto, too. On the 20th of March, he had a little girl, 3 years old, and she was shot in his arms, and he fell into the grave with her, like 3000 people. When 4 o’clock came, he promised a German Gestapo man to give him gold, and they allowed him to get out of the grave. So he survived in the ghetto. But later on I went my way, and he went into the countryside, and after the war, we met.
[I 35:16] I see. And how did he survive the years of occupation?
[35:21] He survived in the bushes with a pistol. When he came to a Ukrainian, and the Ukrainian wanted to give him something to eat, he gave him. If not, they decided that they could kill for something to eat. But, most of them were afraid of him, so they gave him bread and meat, and told him just to take it and leave. Because the Ukrainians were afraid of their own neighbors, that it would be said that they helped Jews, and they would be murdered.
[I 35:52] For how long did he hide himself in the forest with a pistol?
[36:00] For more than a year.
[I 36:02] Who liberated him?
[36:07] The Russians.
[I 36:08] And what did he do, right after the liberation? He got back to Rohatyn?
[36:15] He went to Rohatyn, and he tried to take back from the Ukrainians what belonged to him. Some of them gave him back his things, and some said they had nothing. And then he decided to leave Rohatyn. And I decided to leave, too, because I had nothing to look forward to. We went through Poland, until Katowice, and we decided to marry. And after that we went together.
[I 36:46] What did your husband do in Katowice? Did he do anything in particular?
[36:54] Oh, he did a bit of business; you could make some business. But we didn’t stayed for too long because there were still too many Nazis left, and Poles, and so we decided to leave Poland altogether.
[I 37:10] Was it very important for you to leave Europe?
[37:15] It was very important to leave Europe. We didn’t want to stay any more in Europe. So we decided to leave it.
[I 37:23] I see. And when you arrived in Australia, how did you feel?
[37:28] I felt very good. We both felt good. We had to work very hard, but we felt at home…
[I 37:34] Your interview is coming to an end; do you want to say anything else? And if not, we thank you very, very much for giving your time to us and sharing your experiences.
[37:50] You’re welcome. Thank you, and I hope we don’t ever have to share such an experience.
[I 37:54] Thank you.
This page is part of a series on memoirs of Jewish life in Rohatyn, a component of our history of the Jewish community of Rohatyn.