An Interview with Klara Schnytzer – Full Transcript

This page presents a full, unedited 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.

A lightly-edited version of the transcript is also available, which may help with interpretation of some of the spoken narrative.

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].


[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] and, ’41 they made straight away a ghetto, taking us all together, brought from all neighboring cities also, all Jews, and families used to live for three-four families in a room. And 1942, the 20th of March, started shooting at 7 o’clock in the morning, and finished at 4 o’clock. We lost 3000 people, lie 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] So, I remember it was very cold, and it was frozen blood all over the ghetto, and we stayed only 45 families which stayed only husband and wife. There were families which were no name left behind. Later on they always have been coming to the ghettos and asking for money and for furs and they made police and Judenrat, and…

[I 01:46] Well, that what I would like to ask you: How was the Jewish community organized, by the Germans, when arrived?

[01:55] They told us we have to have a Judenrat, and we have 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 ghetto until Yom Kippur.

[I 02:22] Yom Yippur 1942.

[02:25] ’42. Yom Yippur ’42, we were pleaing with everybody not to go to the synagogues. But nobody listened and everybody head to the synagogues, and after about 10 o’clock in the morning, the Germans knew the Jews are in the synagogue, they started again to shoot, and everybody had to go out, they meet them all in the marketplace and there some [garbled] were shot in 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 ’42 akcja, 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 Yom Kippur action, the same trouble was. We still were always afraid, we were not allowed to go out of the ghettos, we had to wear of course straight away the white bands with the Magen David. And on the 8th of December, it happened exactly the same, they start to shoot people.

[I 03:49] Did they shoot them in the street?

[03:51] In the street, when they have taken them out from the houses and the street, if somebody try to run away they shot them exactly the same. And the last was on the 6th of June ’42, it was a Saturday, and it was judenfrei.

[04:08] So, some people were lucky enough to escape, and 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, there was shooting on a place, on the spot. And I suppose I was the lucky one, who had a place by Ukrainian people to 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, there were a lot of, between the people, they helped Germans to murder us, Ukrainians and Poles, but some of they were quite nice people, and they used to bring in… And the children used to take off their bands and used to go out. And it kept us, in a sense, a bit alive.

[I 05:08] So the food was reaching the ghetto, to some degree.

[05:11] It was reaching to some degree, yes.

[I 05:13] And how were the sanitary conditions? How were you for hospital, medical care – were there doctors in the ghetto?

[05:21] There were doctors in ghettos, our doctors.

[I 05:25] And could they practice?

[05:27] They had to help people, because we had also typhus, typhoid. Certainly because it was very dirty. But they helped us. There was some doctors from out of the ghetto, like the non-Jewish doctors, and they tried also 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 I lost, of course, in the last action I lost my husband. And three months before Russia freed us, I lost my mother. And when Russia came, 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, on the 20th of March, I was told, that he was taken away, even with his tallis, he was davening, praying. And my sister was running into a country, and she was told by Ukrainians you are not belonging here, so she was sent to the, she was shot but I don’t know where – either 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 start to dig the graves before the 20th of March. They were told by the Germans that this is for making bricks. But, some people did not believe it. But nobody had any other choice. And this graves, the Jews… and there was a lot…

[I 07:22] They had to prepare themselves.

[07:23] Themselves. And later on, in the graves, what were hundreds and hundreds alive, so they poured over them lime. So, that was the first. The other one, they were taking them away dead. I don’t remember where, because I always was in hiding.

[I 07:46] Yes, for sure, you heard all, later on, what happened.

[07:49] Yes, I have been all actions in my city. But I was lucky enough, sort of, always to be staying alive.

[I 07:56] Yes, well, that was your destiny.

[07:59] Exactly.

[I 08:01] Could you tell us also, what were the, in the ghetto, how people washed themselves? Did you have water, hot water, cold water, was it running, was in the taps, or did you have to bring the water from wells?

[08:15] We have to bring from wells, the water.

[I 08:18] And the toilets were operational, or ?

[08:19] The toilets were operational. It was very dirty just the same, in lots of places, and because of this we had the typhoid. This was because there were so many people in one place.

[I 08:30] Yes, for sure. Well, now, I’m sorry, could you continue with your story, when the last action took place?

[08:40] The last action took place, I was not in the ghetto, but I stayed with a Ukrainian family in the same city. So at 3 o’clock in the morning I was woken up by shots. And I have been with my girlfriends, so I told them we dress ourselves because it is already the last action. And we have been afraid that the Ukrainian lady who kept us, she will come and tell us to go. But she was very kind, and she told us to undress, she have taken our picture, she have taken our papers, and said if anybody comes, you are my two daughters.

[I 09:14] Do you remember her name?

[09:15] Yes, she – he was commissar at the Ukrainian police, said that he doesn’t know that we were there, but his wife and the children knew, and his name was Baczynski.

[I 09:27] And the lady 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, which loved us very much and slept with my ghetto friend and myself, in their room. And there we never were hungry, this I have to admit, we had everything.

[09:48] But when the Russian came, three months this [???] for fighting under Tarnopol, so she got afraid of the Russians, and she told us that we have to leave because they are running away. By chance I found out that my younger sister have been 5 kilometer from the city, in a country town. So at night, the lady brought me to his brother, 3 kilometer, and next day I went to my sister. And I stayed with her at first, under bushes of wheat, and later on he dug a little grave, near the river bank. And we stayed there for next four months.

[10:38] And when Russia came to save us, in ’44, end of ’44, so I managed to come to the city, and unfortunately, later on the Ukrainians found my sister and they murdered her with the fellow who [???] together.

[I 10:59] I see. Well, if you go back in your memory, and remember, when staying with this Mrs. Baczynski, what did you do during the day? Do you remember what activities…?

[11:16] Yes, I was sitting every day in the window, behind the curtains, and watching if somebody doesn’t come to pick us up.

[I 11:25] I see, so your full heart must have…

[11:28] Yes, whenever I have seen somebody I always was afraid that somebody will come. But as she was a wife of the commissar of the Ukrainian police, so she was not afraid that somebody will particularly come. Although she sacrificed her life, I must admit, because if they had found us there, the whole family would have been murdered.

[I 11:50] Well, what I can see from 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 had even a passport, a Russian which gave us in ’39, and ’40. And a girlfriend gave me her picture, and this was completely on my passport, like was my own. But unfortunately I have a true Jewish heart and I could not stay behind. I used to go away all the time, and every action I have been back, because I always wanted to go where Jews are. So I had the papers but I couldn’t use them, because this was not… I couldn’t do it. And so this way I had to be in hiding.

[I 12:33] You had to be.

[12:34] Yes. I’ve been also, I was sent to Warsaw – ghetto was still on, and I was taken by a Jewish fellow who promised to give me a kennkarte. And when we came to Lwów, he left me and went to send somewhere a telegram, I didn’t know where. By going from Lwów to Warsaw, he told me that in Lublin, somebody is taking off a Jew. So I told him, look, I don’t know you, in a train, because you a Jew, and you can be recognized quick, I am not. So he agreed.

[13:12] But when we came to Warsaw, came to me a Polish policeman, to him he says, you are Jewish. And they’ve taken us away to the 1st commissariat of Polish police. So when we came up there, they send him out of the room, and I stayed with the commissioner and he started to yell at me that I am Jewish. What I am doing in Warsaw? So I said I’m not Jewish and I came because I needed a doctor. And then he started to ask me if I know some religion. So, probably God gave me something, an answer, that I don’t believe in religion and I’m not going to church. So he yelled at me that he will send me to the Gestapo, ’til I said you can do it, or you can ring to my city and they will tell you that I am the one, and my husband is in Rohatyn. And after a while, they send me out, and then they brought in the fellow who has taken me to Warsaw, and they started to ask me if I will buy him out. So I agreed.

[14:18] When we went in to the office, the Jewish fellow said to him could you make me a kennkarte? And he ask him, whom you need the kennkarte for? He says, for her. And he says I don’t believe it, she is not Jewish, she drove me so crazy that she is not Jewish. But after this, he said that his brother is doing the kennkarte, but they caught some Jews, and he is afraid now to do it, I have to wait. But as I had still my husband and my family in ghetto, so I decided to go back. Because I knew when I lose everybody, they will trick me and I will have no money, so they will kill me anyway. So I went back.

[I 14:59] And tell me, how was it then, traveling on a train? Could you buy freely tickets, from one city to another?

[15:06] Yes, yes.

[I 15:08] Didn’t they ask any documents?

[15:10] No. I had perfect documents. I have 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 papers; she should only show the kennkarte, what she got here from the police. Because by showing all papers, you recognize Jews. So I did exactly as he told me, so they never asked me all, I got the ticket, and I was driving. But I always came back.

[I 15:37] Yes, I can see that. Well, this is one part, when you dared out of Rohatyn, and went to Warsaw. Did you go anywhere else?

[15:51] Yes, before, I used to travel, I went to Stryj. But I stayed with a lady, and she was sure that I am non-Jewish. But I always tried to go where ghetto was, my heart was always – I was feeling that I have belonged there. So one day I felt that she knows something, so I’ve decided to go home. And when I came to Chodorów, this was the station before our city, met me a Polish girl from our city, and she started to frighten me that she is going to send me to the Gestapo. So I told her, why you are going to do this to me? You come to our city, we’ll give you money. And, somewhat she decided she is leaving me go, so I came home. But she never showed up, because there was a Polish policeman, a very good one, and he said if she will come, then I will teach her a lesson.

[I 16:44] I see, so you had to do with the blackmail.

[16:48] Yes, I had to do with blackmail, yes. But I always somewhat was lucky enough to talk me out of it.

[I 16:56] Yes, I can see that. And did other people try to escape, and have been blackmailed to go back, do you know of any, in your experience?

[17:07] There have been a lot of people which were 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] I see. 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 is 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 are.

[I 17:36] Yes, 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 ghetto started, we were given by the Ukrainian people potatoes, so that I had full of cellar, so I used to even help the other people which 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 were accepting it during the occupation.

[18:30] Yes, they were accepting it. And of course, who did not have any money, then everybody, usually somebody has rings, or somebody had jewelry. Not that it was many because everybody had to give it away to Germans.

[I 18:41] Exactly, that’s what I am asking.

[18:42] Yes, and they used to ask for thousands of furs, which in our city I don’t think that there were three ladies, Jewish, who had furs. So they had to put together from everybody money and buy it in other towns to give to the Germans.

[I 18:58] And what was happening to these furs?

[19:00] The Germans take them away.

[I 19:01] To Germany?

[19:03] Probably. I don’t know, it must have been.

[I 19:06] You don’t know. When you go back in your experience, what was the most terrible one that you remember? What was the most shocking one that you…

[19:21] The shocking one was the first when they started to shoot us. We still were in bed when we heard shooting. We have not believed when people told us then that 60 kilometer 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 they were always shooting, but we were always were afraid, we had always 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 lucky enough always not to be there.

[I 20:04] Now, could you, that’s a very tall question: was a resistance possible, at that time?

[20:11] Not particularly, because every Ukrainian and every Pole were against Jews. Although, before the last action, the young people had pistols, and they tried to go against it, but they were too little of them, too few of them.

[I 20:37] Did you have any partisans, in your district?

[20:41] Not Jewish ones. We had, unfortunately, Ukrainians which, they murdered the most Jews…

[I 20:48] In the woods.

[20:49] In the woods, because the German was afraid to go to the woods, the Ukrainians did.

[I 20:53] The Ukrainians did.

[20:54] Oh, yes.

[I 20:56] And would you know why?

[20:58] Because Hitler promised Ukrainians a free Ukraine. So, they said Ukraine has to be only for Ukrainians and as Hitler said, Judenfrei, there was no Jews, 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 never forgotten it but it’s very hard to remember everybody losing by this way.

[I 21:28] Yes. Do you carry any physical reminders of your wartime experiences?

[21:38] Yes, I suffer with my ankles because I was sitting in a river bank and there was snow and water under you, it was tight there.

[I 21:45] Would that be very painful for you to describe how it felt to be in this bunker? What was going on in your mind. You were a girl of…

[21:59] Twenty-two.

[I 22:00] Twenty-two. What were you thinking, what were you talking with your sister, what was the, sort of, the day, how did you fill it in?

[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. Before us was just a green piece of, small window, we put greens, that we wouldn’t be seen. And we just watched it always. When we heard the dog barking, we knew that Ukrainians are coming to look for us. But of course we, as I said, I was lucky enough that they never found us.

[22:40] The Germans were having maneuvers, and they just missed us by maybe a foot, running down the hill. And what we were talking, we were praying only to God that we can be alive to come out of there. We prayed to God that Russia wins the war and comes soon to free us. What could we talk about? I didn’t know that my husband was murdered. I just knew 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 one thing what, I haven’t been hungry.

[I 23:23] You haven’t.

[23:24] No.

[I 23:25] How was the food coming to you?

[23:28] He was coming at night, and he was taking off the window, the piece of grass, and gave us through the window.

[I 23:37] I see. And were you suffering from animals, or…?

[23:41] From animals? No.

[I 23:43] No? There were no rats, or mice, no?

[23:45] No.

[I 23:47] It was dry, when it rained?

[23:49] There was drying as long as was summer, but unfortunately we were sitting in autumn, winter, and spring, so when the snow start to thaw we had all 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, I went there, we went there 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 just in one dress, and then I lost everything, I just had nothing else.

[I 24:21] I see. At that time, what were your feelings toward Judaism?

[24:29] Oh, I felt I think better Jewish like I ever did before. I would never change, and I cannot understand the other people are doing 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 live optimist, and I always had hope that I will survive. I also had dreams. I had dreams of my husband who told me that he will not allow to do any harm to me. I did not know that he is not alive. I also seen my father in my dream, and I knew when I see him that nothing 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. When, do you remember when the news, sort of sifting to ghetto, or wherever you were, about concentration camps, did you know anything about them?

[25:31] We did not know in the ghettos about the concentration camps, we only knew that around, like in Lwów and Stanisławów, the smaller cities, that they are shooting. But we didn’t know anything about the concentration camps then because this was 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 knew ’til then, 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 taken me into the fields, and I had to go about 3 o’clock in the morning, that nobody sees me. The wheat was very high. When I heard somebody walking, I went into the wheat. And when I came to the city, because he went first to see who came out to see who came out to freedom, so when he came from the city, he said there are few Jewish people whom I knew, included was this, late my husband, and he told him to bring all. So I walked the five kilometer at 3 o’clock in the morning, until I came to the house where my girlfriend been there. And there, I sat, and I couldn’t get up, because I got my, completely my feet, my ankles swollen, so that I couldn’t walk for maybe for a week, from sitting in a bunker.

[26:49] And later on, I had nothing, so we’ve decided after few weeks to go away, with my husband. And we walked like Russian was going, so we were walked, until we came to Katowice, and there we married, and from there we went to Budapest.

[I 27:08] Right, just a minute. When you have been in confinement of your bunker and things like that, 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 what happening to them.

[I 27:37] I see. What was your mental condition after liberation, if I may ask?

[27:45] Oh, I was all right. I just realized what happened, when I came out, that I lost everybody, but my mental condition was all right. I just knew what I’m 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, I haven’t met 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 freedom. And we were leaving 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 whom I lost, he knows all died. And I feel that children should know what we got through, and every film, whatever it comes, he always seen 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 got through.

[I 29:29] When you left Poland for Budapest, why was the choice Budapest? Any particular reason?

[29:38] First of all, the Poles were not very friendly also 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] Yes – not organizations, we stayed first in a place with a Jewish old lady, and then we moved to our own, to 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’ve taken us to such a camp, but we didn’t want to stay in it, so we went privately to Ravensburg in Bavaria.

[I 30:28] And what did you do, what did your husband do in Ravensburg?

[30:32] Oh, like anybody, they used to… business. And then after two years… four years in Ravensburg we went to Berlin. We had two businesses in Berlin.

[I 30:45] In Berlin. In which one, the East one or the West one?

[30:48] The West. The West. And then we’ve decided, as my son was getting to 4 years old [dup] that we would not like 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 ’47 in Ravensburg.

[I 31:13] In Ravensburg. I see. And in Berlin, where did you live? Were there special…?

[31:19] In the Hubertusalle, in Grunewald.

[I 31:22] And what was the place, did you rent it?

[31:25] Yes, we rented a flat.

[I 31:28] By yourself? Or were there Jewish organizations active?

[31:31] No, by ourselves.

[I 31:32] By yourself. And did you obtain any help from the overseas Jewish organizations at that time?

[31:39] They used to give us some start, the UNRRA used to give us things in Ravensburg for the babies. But particularly my late husband was not particularly keen on taking charity, so I used to work 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 the permission to come…?

[32:00] We met, in Lublin, a Jewish family, a husband and wife, and we got very friendly with them. They went also to Budapest, but they have decided to emigrate to Australia, I don’t know how, but they did, and we corresponded and they sent us the papers from here. And of course haven’t paid our fare here, we were paid by UNRRA or whatever.

[I 32:25] By Joint?

[32:26] Joint. And we came to Australia, they sent us the…

[I 32:29] You came to Melbourne? Directly?

[32:30] Yes. Straight into Melbourne.

[I 32:33] And 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 to have the reminders of what we passed, got through.

[I 32:46] I see. And when you arrived in Australia, how did you feel?

[32:54] Oh, we felt all right. We had to start to work, and we like it.

[I 33:01] Yes. Did you make it a second home?

[33:04] This is my home.

[I 33:06] That’s your home. 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, of, 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 feeling 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 found possibility that you get education to 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 to, 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 at Economics.

[break]

[I 34:13] Could you think about this, in during the war, you know, when you were in the ghetto or later on, when you met your husband, that you have a son and he will be a professor of economics?

[34:29] I haven’t dreamt about it in ghetto. But when I came to freedom, as a widow, and my husband also as a widower, we decided to marry. But before, he got through a lot in ghetto, too. 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. As came 4 o’clock, he promised a German Gestapo to give him gold, and they allowed him to come out of the grave. So he survived in ghetto. But later on I went my way, and he went into the countries, and after the war, we met.

[I 35:16] I see. And how did he survive this years of occupation?

[35:21] He survived with a pistol in the bushes, and when he came to a Ukrainian, and he wanted to give him, to eat, he gave him, if not, there were decided that they can 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 to leave. Because the Ukrainians were afraid of their own neighbors that they will be told that they help Jews, so they will be murdered.

[I 35:52] I see. And for how long did he hide himself in the forest with a pistol?

[36:00] For more than a year.

[I 36:02] More than a year. Who liberated him?

[36:07] The Russians.

[I 36:08] The Russians. And what did he do, straight after the liberation? He got back to Rohatyn?

[36:15] He came to Rohatyn, and he tried to take away from the Ukrainians what belonged to him. And then some of them gave him back, and some said they had nothing. And then he decided to leave to leave Rohatyn. And I decided to leave, too. Because I had nothing to look forward to. And we were going through Poland, until Katowice, and we decided to marry. And then we went together.

[I 36:46] I see. Now, what did your husband do in Katowice? Did he do anything in particular?

[36:54] Oh, he did also a bit of business, you could have made business. But we haven’t stayed for too long because there was too many Nazis still left, and Poles, and so we’ve decided to leave Poland altogether.

[I 37:10] I see. Now, was it very important for you to leave Europe?

[37:15] Was it very important to leave Europe. We didn’t want to stay any more in Europe. So we’ve 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 felt both. We had to work very hard but we felt at home… [break]

[I 37:34] Your interview is coming to an end, and 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 have to share [???] such 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.