Most of tape transcribed by Faithe Gottlieb, Apr./May 2002; last part by Beca Olch.
First proofing and paragraphs by H. Marcuse, May 6, 2002.
Needs another listen, and addition of time codes.
The round up of Jews was getting very, very strong and my father, my brother-in law, found out that it will be more safe for my sister and their child, my little niece, Alma, to be away from this dangerous place from Lvov, and he send them away to other place I was now only with him, but he didn't want I should stay there. He said I cannot take it anymore. That I should see somebody be taken away from my place and never see them again. I want you to go and I in a way I think he suggested maybe I should go to this bank director that was very, very close with my father. And in the spur of the moment I was very heartbroken, because I figured out now he really doesn't want with him me because my sister is not there. But he didnt, when I think about it now it was completely different. He just wanted me to save myself if possible. So when I said goodbye I'm leaving, so he said, I know. I never saw him again. He said, I know that you will be safe. And I decided to go to this, his name was Ravitski, if that's important, and when I came to them they were just wonderful to me. They said yes definitely they want to keep me for a couple days or whatever. they didnt mention the time. because it is awful dangerous to be in the wrong place, or on the street or whatever. and I was with them for a couple days and things were very very bad and Kasha, their servant, was exceptionally good to me. She was always trying because even in the daytime I was hidden in the attic and at night I was allowed to come down and she was sitting with me long, long, long hours and just talking to make me feel that I am welcome to make me feel that I shouldn't have to think about what's going on. But I realized one thing, being that I cant stay to long because I am a danger to them in a terrible way because all over there are signs whoever save Jews will be killed and Jews have to go through this. You don't have to, you didnt ________(?) so its no excuse for you. o I said I have to go I have to go and one day when Kasha said wait because the back director and I said why if you are staying in a different room (?) and this is the day that they think about me that I'm _________, but I went down and I said to them I am going now. Kasha is not home. They don't know. They think that I am leaving. And I went downstairs and kasha comes out and she grabs me and she says where are you going. There is a afire outside. It's not a fire, fire but it's so bad, you know. I remember her expression. I said you cannot go now. And I tried to ear my elf away from I said let me go I just cannot not stay here any longer. You so wonderful to me and I cannot take advantage of it. So she said if I let you go now it's just like I would kill you because I am sending you to death. You better go upstairs. And I still try and try but she wouldn't let me. So I went upstairs crying and angry at her, yes angry at her because for once I decided to do what I wanted do it and get rid of it, you know. What happens happens. That all. but after a week or two I was with them, things are starting, because they were making the rounds up from one place and to another and this place and they had special commander trained for it, how to round up all the Jews. So supposedly it was a little bit better and I went out with them already then I don't know where I am going but I hoped already that establishing the ghetto. I figured out I am alone, it doesnt make difference where I am going now. I am going to the ghettos. And this is where I went. I went to the ghetto..
Life in the ghetto was very difficult, naturally, and things were very very extremely unsure because we didn't know hat we doing, we didnt know, there were in the morning, every morning they were collecting us and taking us to work. and once when I asked them where are you taking us, so he said who are you to ask question like that. you have no right to ask us anything like that. wherever we want to take you we take you. and whatever job you are assigned to you have to do it. and once on the way, you know, where we were going, I saw they were beating up a Jew. I saw several times you know, but this time, I just couldnt help it. I just went out to the side and I said leave him alone dont kill him and if you want to kill him just kill him. don't;; torture him. I was beaten up so badly that they took me away from him because I was bleeding and somehow, some way, I dont know, whatever I was thinking that this is my time already that they going to kill me they just ignored me. Some other time it happened, I don't remember exactly the situation, I said something. oh I was caught this time, too, not doing something the way I was supposed to do, not that I didn't want to do it. I guess I didn't know how to do it any better. so, he grabbed me and he said, "what are you doing? Why don't you listen to us carefully?" And I answered right away, " I know you have to kill me for that. But please if you kill me just kill me. don't torture me." SO he grabs me again and he said, " Go to hell. who's going to waste a bullet on you." So incidentally, that happened quite often. And maybe I was too outspoken, or maybe I just didn't care. I said nobody would cry after me, what do I care. The sooner the better.
Did I tell you once that I spoke in school? May I mix in with something else? And, um, one boy came over to me and he was like only 12 years old, and he said, "you know what? You should write a book." And I said "oh that's a good maybe idea, maybe I should." "
And I have already a title for your book." What a surprise, I didn't even start and you have already title. So he said to me, Ready To Die, You Survive. I said, um, it was the best way for you to express, for you to express in a very short way my experiences.
And we were in ghetto. It's already 1942 and things are very very desperate. I am alone, I am not alone because there are people around me. Jews. But everybody is so, you couldn't communicate with nobody. you couldn't, there are some people like mother or daughter or son, or whatever, they are here or there you could find some people, somebody, whether sibling or somebody. I am completely alone. And they don't treat me nicely. from this group I am talking about. Because everybody is so involved in their own troubles. Everybody is still thinking how to survive, how to get me some bread, or whatever. And but, very soon, it wasn't too long that they are starting to work already and find a solution. We have no idea what's going on, and no thinking about that his is really, that things are getting worse. and someone we realize that they are like closing the ghetto. and they trying to, and transferring us to Janovska. Janovska, was, used to be part, away from the city, and used to be a big cemetery there. But we were collected on this part of cemetery, we were collected in a different part. A part, when they were little .very neglected, some of them dirty, some of them were like a stable before, you know? Not clean, nothing. We supposed to clean them up to make because this is our future place where we have to live. Where we have to stay. And, they said and they rang out that we are going, oh they mentioned this already. That we are going to a better place, more comfortable more space and so on and so on. and actually it was nothing like this. From worse to worse it's coming slowly but surely.
And if I had to describe my being there I think it was moral torture, and this way I stopped to believe in myself to that to ________, that I was thinking I must probably deserve what's come and is coming to me and to us. because my self-esteem was so slow, and I was so degraded that I said, what is there to live for? You are alone, everybody hates you. There is nobody to say nice, kindly words to you. And I don't know, maybe the people who were with me, maybe they felt in their own way kind, but I could not feel any kindness from nobody. I could not feel anything because it seems to me you know when I saw somebody with mother or whatever or child or something or sister or brother I said, jeez, I envied them. I said, they are lucky. They at least two. Why I supposed to be alone? this question used to come up to me quite often and maybe there was a reason that I was so alone. Because I didnt try hard enough, maybe to be reachable. day by day you have to work, sometimes you are abused and sometimes you are not, sometimes, I even was, once I was laughing to myself and I turned around to ________ "You know, today wasn't as bad as yesterday, maybe tomorrow will be better." we were thinking that I am, slowly but surely they was thinking that I am getting crazy and I was thinking about myself the same way. you know. How much longer can I cope with that. and like I said before, they are really starting to work, strongly for the final solution. and one day we are called, they called_______ you know and they are taking us in the trucks, yet further from the city. And every months_______________________ and they put us in certain groups and each group was like a number. I mean we dont know anything, they said, one two three you know in German, everything, whatever, and each group had to go forward and they start shooting, one after another. And I dont know exactly, to today, what happened to me. I don't know it was the noise, the smell of the blood, or whatever, I just fell down. That's s far as I remember. and I have no idea how long I was laying there. I was probably, I think today, unconscious. And it was, this, when they took us out there it was early, very early in the morning, it was like how do you call it in the morning, in the evening?
Dawn, yes. So we couldnt see too well. and all this excitement and all this screaming and crying, and all this, we were just, you really didn't, I was thinking if, what is it? I couldn't understand what's going on and some people were trying to run away and I was just like a like a piece of stone. I just couldn't move you know. And when I fell, like I said before I dont know how long I was laying there, but it was really getting dark. It was quiet. And no more, yes you do hear noise of the people who were not yet shot completely to death. they were still alive, you know. but bleeding to death actually. because when they were shot they were shooting so fast they wouldnt care. They fell down before already dead. And if they weren't dead, who cares, if you suffer who cares?
It's not, they didnt care for it, it wasn't there. They did there job they were shooting and they walk away, whatever. when I started to smell the blood and I hear this voice and I said to myself what happened to me, where am I? Am I dead? I am dead! I feel about myself that I am dead too because everything that I saw around me, everybody is so cold dead, so I must be dead, too. but I said, then I start to think, and no shooting, I can hear the noises. I can smell. Usually dead people dont smelling anything and dont hear anything. I was so confused, so confused that I couldnt understand. and finally I start to pinch myself you know pinch myself and it was really hurting, just to make sure that I am still alive. But subconsciously I was never thinking about that I am still alive. And then when I was thinking something is different with me with all those people. none of them move, but I move. and I said to myself, oh I, and the smell of blood, you know, it was so overwhelming, that I want to run, I want to get up.
I said, and the boy screams at me, I scream already this time, I remember, "get out, get out get out." I couldn't get up. I just couldnt get up. So I started to crawl between this bodies, some of them not even dead yet. And after a while, I don't know how long I was crawling like that because it was a lot a lot of _______. Oh gosh I cannot describe it. It was just how many were there. how many 1000's and 1000's and 1000's were there. and I crawled and crawled and crawled and this is already getting completely dark and I have no idea what time it is. It's night. I got up and I started to run. I dont know where I had got the strength. I have no idea how I was able to run and I always said if I could win running marathons this time I will show you I could be a winner. and I don't know how long I was running. I know I was running all night. without stop. it was like somebody was pushing me away from the place. and in day time, again, I dont know what day it is or nothing like that. the only thing I saw the day. so I was getting tired, very tired from this running from all these things, so I laid down and I said to myself "what a difference it would make to me if they found me by running or they find me by laying here in this grass or whatever. it doesn't make any difference. I was supposed to be killed anyway, right? I am talking to myself. and I talk loud because I want to hear my voice. I still don't trust myself, where I am or where I am. I am talking loud to myself what the difference would it make. I was supposed to be dead anyway, so I will be dead couple hours later, or one day later, who cares.
And I am going out like that in daytime, I'm, resting, and in night I am running. and I dont understand, again till today, what made me do that way. I was prepared to be caught, definitely. I was prepared for death, but why, maybe subconsciously, the survival, the feeling of survival was in me, that in daytime, they might see me better, so if I lay there in grass nobody will maybe notice me. this way when I run I will be noticeable, if somebody, even somebody, even not Germans, even somebody who lived that far, because we are some place that; you know that people were _________ because we are already very close to the woods you know. but this is the way I did. and I dont know how long it took me, again. I have no concept of time at all. the only thing, I am getting weaker and weaker and I feel that I cannot go on too long anymore. and it comes to this point when I am ready to lay down and they says I dont know why I chose tonight for evening for it, but this evening instead to run, let me lay down, I am talking again to God, this time I am having a private conversation with God, and I said to him, "Please take me. I am so tired of everything. I had already so much. I am alone completely. Nobody will know the difference if I am here or I'm not here. Maybe the only person who will know the difference are these people who were killed. So just take me."
He doesn't take me and it comes really to one evening that I said I cannot. I dont care if its day or night or of they see me or if they dont see me this is finished. And I said to myself, wouldn't it be nice if God doesnt do this to me if I can do it to myself, but I dont have anything to do it because there were a lot of people who committed suicide, you know. but I dont have any means for it even. even death even, I cannot do it. so I have to tell you once I was that here before, I was in a building and the building was very very, it was shortly after that happened with my mother like maybe a couple month later. and I m in this building and I said to myself, "how will I love to jump from this, it was like, and we dont have very high buildings in Poland, you know. Like the highest was like 6 floors or something like that, but enough to go up and I am going up slowly upstairs definitely with this idea, this is death. This time I was linind here this time with myself, but they would know, I was caught like anybody else, I didnt come home. And I am already upstairs and I am ready to turn to you know to this part I am hoping I will go like ____________ I saw a window there and I figured out now what do I do? How do I open the window, maybe it would be very hard. I said, at least I am going to try.
And when I am very close to that, somebody, I dont know from where, comes out. I said, "What are you doing here?" I said, I didnt want I am doing because I knew they would stop me. I said I am looking for a person, I just got lost here. So he lets go with me I'll help you how to go down. I was so angry in my heart that when he took me down I didnt want to say even thank you. I was so angry in my heart. I said so why when I am ready for something, why something, somebody stop me. Why?
But so then I went back to my sister, because at this time they were still there. So coming back to this running situation you know in this woods, I am awful hungry. I chew on leaves, I chew on mostly leaves, this time you know. And I am truly ________ you name it. And when I am ready already to get myself ready to _______ I dont know which way. I see from far away like a light, by the way, I saw a light I said to myself, again I am just imagining things or this is something really like light or somebody lives there or whatever. And I'm tired to begin with, so I said let me go and see what's going on here and I have no idea if I am going to maybe this is a hidden Gestapo .wherever these people might be. I have no idea what's going on. it was not, now maybe I had to walk a half an hour, something like that, maybe more, like a mile. and when, and I see little home, like a farm house. and I knock on the door and a man comes out, a little man, and he said, "Who are you?" And I said, and it's dark, and I said, "I'm Nina" and I fainted. And they took me in and they kept me. I know in my heart that they knew that I run away from some place, the way I looked.
And I was sick for a long time and they were doing absolutely everything that was possible to do, but they didn't, most probably they didn't haven't a doctor, but they didnt call nobody because I was, again the same situation, that they I stayed was hiding me, not in an attic but like in a cellar. They didn't have an attic, but in a cellar. late evening, at night, once in a while, they let me come up and talk to them. it was never questioned, the race came up to our conversation. Who am I? Never, they never asked me. they said only, they were so kind and so good to me and they always, I had a feeling tat they really wanted me to be them because they didn't have children, I don't know, this was my feeling. because they were so, I couldn't even dream of people who should be better to me like they were at this time. but once in a while I overheard their conversations because when they asked me to come and to sit with them I hardly talk. I was afraid to say something. So I said to myself, "They are so good to me, I might say something that might spoil everything." So I just listened.
So even, I remember his wife, wonderful woman, wonderful woman, said I like to share your worries too. I said, "I'm little weak, it's hard for me to talk." But I wasn't as weak anymore that I couldn't talk. I could talk, but I just was afraid! Simply afraid to talk. and I heard already once, and they were talking with themselves in this one and they said don't worry, they always trying to convince me I shouldn't worry. I'm better, I survived, and they didn't use this word survive. You hear, God is good to you, we help, he help you to get better. you were very, very sick, delirious. I don't know what I am saying when, what happened. but they never, never mentioned anything. and I said to myself how kind people can be. but again I am in the same situation. I cannot take advantage of their kindness, because eventually somebody will find out and they were trying to say, you know, they were trying to make me feel good. you know, you are new one they used to say. such better other people don't know from where you came and who you are.You know, they tried to pacify me, you know, to make me feel that I am part of them, their family. But the rest doesn't have to know about me.
I understood. I understood what they aiming for. but it was never officially said. but now I said to myself this is bad, if I stay here I am endangering, I am in paradise now, for this couple months, or I don't know how long it took. but don't take advantage of it. because if something happened you will be killed, they will be killed. and when you will be killed, at least some other time when you were killed you were killed with a clean conscience. because you were killed because Jews in German didn't want any Jews so you were killed. this time you will be killed and your conscience will be bothered so terrible. so dont do it to yourself. and I was, now I am watching already. I'm, it's, the idea is growing me stronger and stronger. and as much I fell protected, as much I feel thankful being there, this other idea overpowering me. I feel already I want to be away, I want to be away. I dont know that it's easy to explain this, but I want, it seems to be every moment that I stay any longer I am endangering them in such a way that it bothers me so terrible that I just cannot take it any longer. and, so I am watching already for situation that they wouldn't see me, when I, and I know that I have to leave because she gave a me little, like a dress or something, that I cannot take absolutely with me, nothing. I just have to walk away and go.
And one day, I don't remember what day it was, naturally I didnt know what day it was and it was not light. they used to go, I overheard once in a while, you know, like a, I recall it's like a farmers market, something like that you know, to get some stuff. And usually they used to go together. And I was already in the cellar, and I, they think that I dont know anything about it, but I knew because I heard them closing the door and all those things, and I said to myself, why dont I go upstairs and sneak in and see what's going on? They just went, not long ago, and I have to be very careful, I have to be very careful so body else shouldnt see me, from other people. So I, I guess I was lucky enough that nobody saw me, and I feel, I didn't see any more these buildings, then I started to run. Because why I saw this buildings and this settlement I'm walking very slowly. I am one of them and nobody knew me before or something. I even was preparing myself in case somebody as stop me or something I would say that I am niece and I came to visit or something like that. I always had to prepare myself with something, some kind of answer. But no I was very lucky in this respect. I didn't see nobody, and then when I thought that it was a little bit more safe I started to run and run.
And again, I said, when I, you know, it's such a undescribable feeling. Here I had it so good, and now I left it, the _______of something so, so uncertian, dangerous, being hungry again, beign dirty, beingn abused again. and here I felt love, and um the feeling that I dont feel already for such a long time that I couldnt even appreciate properly. You know, for the short time that I had it, how lucky I was to get this. but maybe that kept me going; that there are some good people, some people who do want to help. I dont know, I have no answer for it.
And I am again very hunrgy, running and running and running and I said to myself, and I am faid another thing, I should run back the same way that I came from.. so I find alittle bit, pieces of stone or something, so I make myself marks, each time, I make myself a mark that you going this direction, because if you go the other direction, you know because being hungry, being so dirty, and, my mind was going already not very strong so I said to myself dont go the other direction because the other direction where did you again the same place that you left. you have to go forward if you want to get away from that. So sometimes, you know, if I saw the mark or I saw the stone or their piece of wood I found, I wasn't sure which way I'm going. and sometimes I would stay for an hour and thinking which way do I go now. Left or right or something or east or west. I dont know. but again I figured out. I never figured out, there is nobody there to help me or tell me anything, so I better take my chance. And I dont know exctly how long it took. it took to this situation that again I am awful discouraged you know and awful, I just wanted to finish. And again while I am already in such a desparate situation, it's just, and I dont know if I could even pray anymore.
Once I got very, very angry. Again I have a private conversation with God. I said, "All these things that I am asking you its never done to me. All the things that I want you to take away from me, you given to me. Why?" I never got any answer and I said to myself, okay whatever you will be. This was my finish of my prayers, and the finish of my thinking. I couldn't think anymore. so I said whatever happens, happens. but one thing I did say again and again and again; please whatever you do to me, dont let me be tortured. I didnt care if I get sick, I thought okay you get sick, but even in sickness, if I get, I should get sick so that I shouldnt feel so much. I dont know, I was terrified of this torture, maybe because I saw so much of it, I dont know.
And I just, I couldn't cry, the last tear I could shed was when they took away my mother. from all this time maybe 4 years, I couldn't shed a tear. I think sometimes it would be helpful, but I just couldn't. And I am already deparate and angry too, and you know what happened to me when I used to get angry, I used to scream. I used to scream a lot, but nobody heard me, naturally. and sometimes I used to scream to this one that I, my, and this happened not to long ago, too. it happens once in a while not, but I am trying to work, because now I have people around places and they would call 9-1-1 and think that you are really crazy. but sometimes I have to get out from my system. so I start to hear some voices and something like the bushes (?) you know like I didnt know its the wind, and I didnt know if hear somebody moving there or something, again I dont know if its my imagination or something real, but I go not knowing who they are, what they are, whatever.
And I got to some kind of a unit. There are some people, I didnt see women, there were women later I knew. And when they saw me, and again I look awful, and when they saw me they said "who are you?" I said "I dont know." "What's your name?" I just said Nina. And again they asked me and they getting already impatient with me, you know. "Who are you?" I said " I don't know." I don't if I was afraid to tell them that I ran away from I don't know what made me kept saying I dont know. and all the time I'm, and he said Oh, I think I did say I'm very hungry, I'm very tired. so I think they gave me something. They didnt have too much but they gave me something and they let me lie down, they some kind of under the trees you know. They made some kind of space.
And the next, I think it was like the next day they decided you cannot stay with us because we do not know who are and you don't know who you are. And I told them, yes I know who I am, but whatever I tell you you most probably wouldn't believe me. so why dont you try, he said. So I told him something, a little bit. He said, they dont believe me. I said, "Didn't I tell you you wouldnt belive me?" "Maybe you are," one of them, there were a couple of them, "maybe you are a spy." So I said, "if a spy look the way I look maybe I am." And I didnt know how to put up myself this time anymore, and I guess I didnt care. So he said, "We have to send you away." "Where are you going to send me away. I am in the woods right? That I know. So where are you going to send me away. Who are you?" Now I am asking them questions.
They said, "we are not going to tell you who we are. If you cannot realize by yourself, we are not going to tell you anything." So I am just getting very, very tired from all this conversation. so I said, "you know what? thats the only thing and again they insisted that I have to go. so I said " you know what, I came to this point, and I shortly, but very shortly told them about the killings and all these things, I dont how I survived from that. but it was that, I feel in my heart that that was my time. so okay, I looked at it bit longer, now is my time. and I want you to, if you want to getrid of me this is the only way. just kill me. They were thinking I am crazy. Who is asking to being killed.
I said, and he did say, are you, whatever he said used word used. And I said, no I mean it seriously because I am very tired, I am alone, I have no place for to go. Nobody will know this difference if I am aliveor I'm dead. Who cares? I am just tired. and I see this is the only solution for me. he said no this is not the only solution for you. you are young and youare just desparate right now. we will see what we can do. I said okay. but one thing please, and I told him again the same story. And I said I am going to tell you something, what happened to me, and I was beaten up very badly for it. whatever you decided to do, dont touch me. you see, nothing could answer .efficent you know. I shouldnt have to suffer. so he said, "we are no Nazis. we are not killing people we are saving people. if you came to us maybe you were lucky of them, one of them. and maybeyou will be saved." I didnt even say thank you. The only thing, I said to myself, I did say "so what is your intention?"
I wanted to hear this you know. We have to give it a few. I just wanted to hear this, but I idn;t hear that. so, after they didnt bother me for a while, because they just saw that I was so, I was obnoxious you know. nothing was good, only like I had said before, but tey were trying to feed me a little bit, and took some clothes leather and a couple times when I ask them, "What kind of place is it?" I knew already that this is partisans. And I asked one woman, he said we are not supposed to tell absolutely nothing, who we are and what it is. unitl they decided what they wanted to do with you. So I figured out listen, I am not threatened anymore. So whatever they will want to do, if it takes a couple days, okay, or a couple months, who cares. And they wanted me to get, to prepare a me a little bit to working with them. I think they were testing me.
So he said, "Are you good with a gun?" But then another one said dont give her a gun, she might use it on herself. it was so funny, you know, the way he said it. So I started to laugh so I said " so mybe I'll try, you know." So, and different things, and some of them said, you know we can use her for something so unusual but I think she will be good for it. she;s young, and she's, she would never, never anybody would suspect that she could do what we want her to do. we hope so anyway. and she is so willing to sacrafice her life and this is that could, they meant that. let's try/ and one day they call me and said we are figuring out something for you. it is extremely dangerous, but its not only dangerous the your life is involved in it, and you keep telling us all the time that you dont care it;s not important, but its dangerous for us. and this time we are to warn you that you might be tortured if you get caught. but under no condition you allowed to say that you came from us, and you dont know actually anything about it, and thruth was I didnt know anything about them. are you ready for something like that. and I said yes, but could I know a little more detail about what's going on. and they liked this, when I said am I allowed to know some more details, not about your palce but what I supposed to do. and they liked this one, b.c they, one of them comment later, you see this your question, make the final decision if you wanted to try with you (?)
End of Side One
So what do I have to do now? We are going to send you to German office, to Russia, part of Russia, deep in Russia, occupied by Germans and work there in the post office, for example. You will bring the mail, take the mail, sort the mail, whatever they tell you to do. And be very devoted, be very efficient. Try to do whatever they tell you to do there. This was my part of the and the other half we are working now and getting out little packages and this package needed a stamp, and with this packages whoever from our people, they dont say who we are, what we are, from our peope receive it, is able to travel to all occupied territory from Germans. And this we can tell you this is very, very important to us because then we know the situation, what it is, and we can make to giving some help to wherever, and they didnt say jews, they didnt mention anything. whoever needs it. so from all these things I'm not very smart I don't know still what is, but I figured out from my mind. I'm going to do it. It's very dangerous, but now I have purpose. I'm going to do something against germans. and if I have right to do it, excuse me, maybe you know what I talking about. I dont mean about good germans, because there were good germans, too, please don;'t misunderstsand me, but if I can do against Nazis, lets call them, their regime, and so on, nothing will stop me, you know. and I got some kind of energy in me. I am going to do a good job. they will be proud of me, you know something, I dont know. a new life came to me. you know. And I said yes, I'm going to do it. and I, I am, I was just, I didnt know what to say. And I couldnt promise because how can you promise something that, but I said I will do my best in every little way.
If I am caught, because there I possibility just explained to me, I will suffer, but I wouldn't say anything. and that was, like you know somebody put it in my heart. It was so deep in me that when I got, already every night that was like a part of my prayers, you know. That be strong. Because you never know. It might happen today, happen tomorrow, next day. but you be strong. and I'm changed completely. I'm sent away, with wonderful people, with completely different day, with different identity. I am a polish girl who's going to work in German office. They were, they were not officially connected with, as a matter of fact I tell you what, that was organization taught, if you ever heard. but their part was far away, we were building up all the bridges and all the connection for um, after they were bombed, you know, because the war is going on and the bombing is very strong and another thing, I dont know anything about that because unfortunately nobody inform us and this i unti never say anything about it, but the Germans are already not in very good situation. they almost reaching this part of Russia, not too far from Stalingrad.
And Stalingrad make already the big change. They starting to losing the war. And we are as far as qualtepretra (?), it's deep in Russia. and here I find myself in German office. Everyone is in uniform. they not gestapo uniforms. No they different, different, different, uniform. Gestapo was in green and they were more like in a beige, dark beige, but everything, the minute you walk into a room, "heil hitler" and all the things, big big poster, pictures all over, so when you walk into something like that you have a feeling that you are in gestapo people too, and you just say, "gee whiz, how can you go on?"
But I'm assigened to work with a woman. and she's nice, she's okay. And I know that I I forgot her name, I remember later my name of my boss because I was transferred later. It was very difficult. It was extremely difficult to get used to the transition because I couldnt believe, in my heart, later when I am already there, because when they are proposing everything to me they just talking about that. but when I have to literally do this, I said how do I do all these all things, how do I work out. and I, this is, this is, we have a small office this time. and I have to walk to pick up the mail, and on my walking there I always am thinking okay I'm bringing the mail. Now, I was watching very carefully when she goes to lunch, and she used to like to take a nap after. and usually she said, my name is Maria this time, Maria Pachecro, "Maria, lock everything nicely, put everything away and all these things." Because they needed somebody who spoke little German, spoke little Russian, spoke little Polish, and in a way I was it was I was good for them. Naturally not thinking about that, that I have another job, too.
So they treating me pretty good. she was a little bit strange, but whatever she said it was long. I let her feel that how important she is with giving me the directions and how important it is to me to follow her instructions. we should never have any disagreement or something and a couple times she ask me how come that I decided to come to work so far in Russia. so I told her that my parents were killed, and I dont know why, and till today I dont understand why I did, but I have some not far, I found out very soon that we are very close to Romania, to Romania border, later on not yet this time. wait a minute I am, no this time I didnt know yet. no this time when we are the _____ I didnt yet.
But I did say something that I have some relatives that my ancestor came from this, I was making up some story and this is I'm trying to maybe think, I dont, and I was an only child. Naturally nothing was the truth, everything was a lie, lie, lie, one after another. And this is the reason I'm just maybe figured out that I am coming here maybe I found somebody you know because before the war they were in combat and so on and so on. So she said this is a very good reason why to be here, and I always wanted to help if I could, German. I was thinking that they doing a good job. this I don't know if she believed me but I said it. it was not said directly that way but I lead her to understand that I feel comfortable being with German and working with German, that is what I was trying to bring out at this point.
So in all this to build up more confidence in her about me. and a couple times she said I got helper, she's wonderful she does everything what I want, this is what I want to build up this good relationship. and I'm working and things are getting, I, when I go back to my little room or something, sometimes I cannot believe I, that this is really true or I'm just pretending that I am somebody else but I was, and doing something that's very dishonest, what I was. and the one thing that, and I cannot belive that I can carry on and go on. and I am somehow, someway, I always have the feeling that I am going top be caught eventually. I dont know why, but I do have the feeling in me. So with all the goodness that I have, and you can call in the certain name, respect, the fear in me is so strong that sometimes I say to myself, "Oh my God why did I undertook something like that. why? wasn't it much easier to be killed some place else or some way." I dont know. But I said I'm going on.
In the meantime, I dont know, but there is, uh, other Polish people. they are, they don't want Jews because they firgured out which jobs are not important job. An important job for them is, an important situation for them is to have some people from different, like Polish or maybe Russian, who will work for them, because this is easy communication. because they have to do with ______, you know, because they have to take this workers and so on. and they dont want to be bothered, you know. When this one girl came in russian and she didnt no a word in German she got so annoyed. Get her out! She got annoyed. They didn't want have anything to do.
There is a man you is from Poland. I don't know this in the beginning, but this time I know already. and he is a personal manager. he hires the people. Whomever the need to workers and so on. And one day I meet him, and I dont know why. He's very, he was a lawyer. Hes very smart, and speaks perfect German and good Russian and beautiful Polish. A very intelligent man. I have a feeling that he is Jewish, the very first moment that I saw him. and I said to myself I have a feeling that he feels the same way. I don't know why. There no indication whatsoever. But this is the way I was thinking. And now I'm already, have to be double careful. and I dont know how much more careful I can be. so what I'm trying to bring up, I have something to eat, I have a little bit room.
My bed is not good because it's full of fleas (?) because they gave me mattress, its not a mattress, its from like a straw and one night I got up, oh gosh it was black in front of me you know. and I said to myself, gee what do I do, I'm afraid to tell them. So I start to sleep on the floor, you know without any mattress. But I was lucky because I did say to somebody and they gave me some vinegar, they didnt have anything else, but they had, and they told me to go spray, not to spray, to poke the vinegar on this mattress, so I threw the mattress completely, but I couldn't throw away the sides of the beds because there was no metal and I couldn't, and I didn't want to I was always afraid. I didn't want to say that something was not right, so I firgured I'd let it stay and I poured this vinegar on the bed and I said to myself maybe it will kill them. and it killed them a little bit. there were not as many as before but I didn't dare, I, in fact I didnt have anymore mattress. it was straw, and second I said (I have no idea what she says here ) It was not very good but it was always better than the other situation.b ut living under such terrible pressure that I didnt even know how much longer I can go on like that.
And now, his name is Hendrick, he came to the picture. And one day I met him breifly. so he comes to be and he says to me, "I think that are you." and somebody told me that she, this lady, this German women who I was working, I think she'd going to vacation or something, because everybody wanted to go back to germany if they could. they didnt like it so much there. and I would be assigned to somebody else, because it's my luck. I didn't realize I was desparate, I didnt, now I have to meet a new person. but anyway it turned to be to my benefit later on. and so Hendrick comes over to me and he says, "I think you are going to be transferred because she'd going to vacation, she might not come back too much." He knew much more what was going on. "I think that, um, I, your position will be taken. I'm bringing my girlfriend here, Danosha.
And I want her to be" he knew about, that this meant I was assigned to a very nice person. He was a lawyer too. And Hendrick was a lawyer and Mr. Skoda, I remember his name, was lawyer too, so they had something in common. So I said to myself I have no idea that he's a nice man. I dont know him even yet. I did meet him. they did introduce me. they told me to go to his office and intrduce myself. I did meet him. yes I did meet him already. I knew already who he was. and he did sound like a very very, nice person because he was very nice, he told me to sit down and take my time and tell him something about myself you know because I was supposed to be working and he was supposed to be my boss and this was a little different than she was. and the next day I have to report to his office. I'm reporting to office and he looks at me and looks at me and looks me, and I said to myself "Oh I think he knows that I'm Jewish." right away, the first thing that I was just, when somebody looks to me I was thinking that they know already. and it wasn;t true at all. but this is the way I felt. and he came, and hendrick come to me meantime, and he said to me my girlfriend is here and I want you to meet her and I you, she's to stay with you a couple days until I make the arrangements are we will be together later.
And I dont know what to say. And I literally was afraid of her, not a little bit, deathly afraid of her. So I said okay, and when she comes in, and its like winter and I see, and she is wearing a coat, and I look at her and look at her. and somehow I dont know what made me to look around her neck I see that something was torn off from her collar. and I look at the cuffs I see the same. I said she is Jewish. She had to trim off the fur from her coat. And if she's Jewish, he's Jewish, too.
Right away I made the connection and I knew already for sure that they both are Jewish. And I said to myself I'm in a really bad situation. I dont want to be close with them because it's very dangerous for me. How do I get out from it? I have no way to get out. I said, and he said she's, oh I did say I have no bed. So he said doesn't matter, doesnt matter. When he said doesnt matter, another thing was something that, oh she can sit whatever
I said, I know what I did for sure he never said anything. Danosha stayed with me like a week. Nobody knows about it. Oh he said another thing. Little things were putting it together and I was by this time sure. He said, I don't want nobody to know about it that she's with you. It was my luck too late. So I said okay, nothing. And we talk about, between us very little. She doesnt tell me anything, I dont ask her anything about her because I dont want her to ask me. Once she asked well how did I came here. I said well it was good luck to me that I got a job, that's all. And he did want her on my (?).
One day I'm coming into the office and I'm just, because again he said the same. I said to myself I was very very sad and I think, I'm sitting by this desk, and I think I was, tears were starting to come. No I wasn't crying b/ I like I said I couldn't, but something was in me so sad that it was very noticable. so he walks over to me, my new boss Mr. Skoda. He says, Maricia, Maria, not Marcia, Maricia's Polish. it was German. Maria, something is wrong. Are you sick today? And I said no, I'm not sick.
And then I told him, "I'm very heartbroken." I couldnt help it, I guess. And he said, Whats wrong, whats wrong? I said I wouldnt be working here anymore. They told me, they, I didnt mention his name, they told me that I have to leave the place. I wouldnt be working here anymore. He got so angry, he said, who told you that. I said, well I dont know it was no definite anything it was just rumors. and I have no idea what was talked between hendrick and my boss. I dont know. and he said who had derived something like that. you are working here in my office and I am going to make them tell that you are going to stay here.
And somehow he had a little authority in this organization, my boss. I said I don't think it will help because I think I will have to go. He said, that will be my decision. He got angry at me already. He said that will by decision. You don't have to tell me if you will have go or not, that will be my decision. I said, okay. didnt know what to say. But in my heart I know, I feel, that he won't be able to do it. So when I say goodbye after I finish my work, and I went to the post office, and then it comes to this situation that I am very much afraid to work with this.
What I supposed to work because I am already thinking about it that my situation is very dangerous. So I have to be double careful here. So he said, I said, do I come tomorrow, I'm not coming tomorrow. he said yes you are coming tomorrow, and Ill let you know. because if you not coming tomorrow it will be against you something very important. I said okay, I'm coming. So anyway he comes to me, I come in the next day and he comes to me. he didnt say anything. He said lets go to work. I said okay.
Same day, in afternoon, Hendrick calls me in, and he is furious, as furious, if he could just, if he could kill me I'm sure this timehe would kill me. and he said how dare you you go to Mr.______ and tell him that somebody else is taking over your job and that I rranged this. I said no, you are not telling the truth. I did say that I supposed, because you told me that I had to leave. but I never mentioned your name I just said that I heard rumors. And this make quite difference, you accusing me of something that I didnt say. He is furious. I couldnt persuade him. He yells at me, hits me. You're not telling the truth, you're not telling the truth. I said yes I am telling the truth. I cannot do anything more but tell you again and again what I said in the first time, that I did say that I, because this is what you told.
I was repeating your words but not using your name at all. So he said, okay we are not finished yet. I am going back at you and I'll show you my authority. I said okay, but let me tell you Now I'm getting angry. I said let me tell you something. if you go back on me I will go back on you because we both are in the same situation. So you better be careful. If I could sent a bump on him it wouldn't hit him anymore. He was furious, just furious. "What are you talking about, you don't know what your talking about. you're crazy," and all these things. and I said,"no I'm not crazy."
And I knew. I'm not going to listen to this because it's not necessary. You definitely know what I am talking about and its like to stay that way. even now when I am talking about it my heart is beating very strongly because you cannot, that was torture by itself, you know. But I, and I said this is question, we are fighting now between life and death and I have, you are protecting Danosha. It is your right. I have nobody. I have to protect my self and that's what I am doing. And I am not doing it to hurt you, I am doing it just to protect myself.
And I walk, no hes still yelling and screaming and going on and he was getting out of control. I said that's said. goodbye. and I couldnt go back to work because I was so drained our from this and I couldnt. And I just went for a moment and said I have terrible headache. He said oh, and so my boss, said go to this and this place. He sent me a number. They have like a little bit, some medication, so I don't know I got something and I said I just cannot work today, please, would you excuse me if I go home. Are you coming tomorrow? I said yes. You are working I told you.
My boss is getting angry. Everybody's getting angry at me. I said yes I am coming. so now you know that you working here, like that. I said yes, I know. I hardly could talk. I was so shaken. and I'm trying so hard to be strong, so hard not to show the emotion because I am always afraid that I will show the emotion it will give him some kind of a picture that something is going wrong here and the Germans are very very, um how shall I say, very protecting themselves, you know, because they know that things are not very good. And very shortly after this happen we are already have instruction that we are moving towards
What does it mean? and we work out the mess that we are losing the war. We dont understand, I don't understand the situation. and I dont know anything about that. The only thing I know this our office, the whole unit is moving. we have to move closer like to, how should I explain it, the desks, yes because we were going yes to east. and one day, I know him already a little bit better, me boss and he knows me and somehow somehow one day, I dont know what. I was very very emotional disturbed and again I came in and he looks at me and looks and I said to myself, I'm going to ask. what can I lose in this? Why he looks at me like that? Something is wrong. Figured out if he will say I am Jewish, he will say. So let's get on with it.
So I said, and he was in a good, not in a very good mood, as a matter a fact he took me to the wall and there was map. Because I said, oh I know we have to go where are we going. I'm not supposed to ask but I figured he wouldnt kill me for it. So he took me to the wall and there is a map and he said you see we are right here and now we going here. Do you know what this means? And I said no. I'm not supposed to tell you, but I'm going to tell you. We are moving away. We are defeated.
I didnt know what to say. I said no it's impossible. The Germans are so strong they can never be defeated. I know that you winning the war. I'm telling him that. But in my heart I am praying that it should be true. I said no this cannot happen. I became such a good actress you wouldnt believe it. and after that, he's upset, naturally. He said let's have a glass of wine. I said no thank you I'm not drinking. I was careful. So he took some wine, he was drinking, and I said, Mr. Skoda, can I ask you a question, please. And if you don't want to answer just dont answer. I just have to ask you. He said you can ask me anything you want. a couple times when I walk into the office you look at me in such a way that I'm frightened. I dont know what it means. he said, he was much older, he was like 60.
My child, you don't have to be afraid of me. I'm going tell you why I look at you like that because you resembled my daughter who I didn't see for a long time and I almost lost her in bit of the wars. and she will be now about your age. And many times when you walk into this room I just see her.
I couldnt belive it what I heard. I just couldnt believe. I said to myself, what does he mean. I dont know. But its what he said. I was sick, very sick. I couldnt talk and all these things because we have very strong winters. Winters are severe. the snow is so high. but, and I have laryngitis, I cannot work. he's sending medication to me. He doing, I need you to come to work all these things, because he says to somebody he doesnt come. When I come to the office I'm already feeling a little bit more open with him. And this is because I have a question I ask him, because he said if you ever have a question or I ever do something that puzzles you I want you to ask me. So I take advantage of it, I could say.
So I ask him, and I came to the office and I said, not the first day because I was still weak I wanted to come back to work because I knew they might need me because that is already chaos. There is lot of lot of things. And I was trying as much, I am not organized now at all. I was trying to be very organized you know because I knew the Germans liked every just so, and all his papers and all this one and all his names every should be just the way he wants. He showed me in the beginning and I followed it just literally. I am very seldom working now for, and I do, but not at this power that you thought.
Not because I dont want to do it, because I am very much afraid. because in the chaos they are more and more suspicious. The only thing I can do, really to work for the movements, that I could feel that its little, not a little, as safe as possible. And it bothers me. now it starts to bother me because he's so good to me that I'm just doing something, you know, that he will find out. I'm sure that he will do something about it, as a German naturally. And anyway, when I came a couple days later, again, he's depressed and he drinking a little bit. So I said, I have a question for you. I said you were so good to me and you were sending the medication to make me feel better and so on, but you never came to visit me. It seems that its not, that we are in a lower--I dont remember what kind of word they were using--that it wouldn't fit for a German to visit someone who is sick because she is not a German. This is the way I put it out.
So he was really very nice and he said, again you are such a child that I dont know what to do with you. I said, why? so he said, you know I am elder man, but I am still man and you're a young girl. now imagine if somebody would see me coming to your place and spending lets say an hour or something at your place. Your reputation is very important to me and I know how nice you conduct yourself and I want it should stay that way. Because a lot of these girls are not doing that. I tell you I used to come to such situations that I didnt I was, I couldnt believe it, but I hear its true. But anyway the situation is getting very very bad. We have to go we have to move from this
and one day I think this sort of did not interest the propitroska this has already been viewed we moved away, and I am Danusha, Danusha is this girl who recognized that she's Jewish too, we are not oh, she was living with her boyfriend you know all the time and everything and I tried to be as far away from this as possible. As besides this after this how he was yelling and he hit me this I don't wish him anything bad and I don't know finish and her we say hello when we see each other we don't see because she does work she works in a completely different department and I live my own life I go to work and come back and do everyting I have to do and we don't have a washing machine you have to washing you have to wash some little bit stuff because we and I do try to make some friends to within the Russian people because I feel very very I have nothing do do with this people this group of Polish people I have nothing to do socially with the Germans, you know, I go to work
I don't what ever supposed to come home I try to get a little contact with the Russian people and by coincidence once a week we have like you know the bringing their goods and you can sell and so some of them and I talk to them, I speak Rusian fairly they can understand me and I can understand them and I met a very very nice lady, beautiful lady and like we became friends every Sunday I used to spend the afternoon at her place and her son was in the war and so she always used to say if he comes back I like you to marry him, you know she was like.. matchmaker, she really likd me very much and one time she said to me you know what you already moved she said to me we are a very close group but she doesn't know that I'm Jewish, she thinks that I'm Polish girl you know who cam eto work for Germany because I am not the only one the other some Russian girl who works for the Germans too. I have a very good friend and I would like so much to go Sunday and see her for a long time. And just said to me very nice I said look well how do we go how can we cross the border she said I can get some kind of permission I can get into something there, anyway we get to go, we had to walk we didn't take the train, no wait a minute, we did not take the train but she had somebody who took us back with a horse and I her, very very nice lady and I didn't know that when we meet later on I will needed her. So, my life is just on a lot of pressure, but there are some nice momments, especially, when I spend these Sunday afternoons with this woman, she doesn't have much she always she makes some little things you know for me just to treat me something and I would say no please don't I'm not hungry we didn't .very good but I'm not hungry. and she didn't and used to save for her something you know if I could, because we were not allowed to take anything home but sometimes when I could, you know, I wrapped and just bring it to her because she was really hungry.
And one day I'm cold, oh, Danusha one day calls me and she says, Nina, ..he had to run away, what do I have to do with it? I said, What happened? she said I can not talk to you, and the bathroom, I said ok, I'm afraid to say no, I wanted to say no but I'm afraid to say no because she sounded almost hysterical, she might say something you know and then something to help the situation she might just say you have to be very carful, so I didn't ever say no to her so I said ok and she comes I can't come in, she wants to scream and gets so angry and I don't know where he is I don't know what to do and this food from him, oh just to help me, I said how can you expect me to help you I don't know what to do. He's hiding right now, of course she din't tell me because she didnt trust me and I said where is he, what happened? She said I don't know myself what happened, I think she knew, but I don't know she didn't want to tell me. and I don't blame her that she didn't trust me I didn't trust them too. I said so what do you expect me to do, she said I don't know but you have to help us, I said which way can I help you? I want to come to you, I said no, I'm sorry I know I have to say no. I . if I can but no. First I had no you know, I'm a and I did not want to be seen with her and how long can you stay in a bathroom? There were German people there. So, I said I am going to the post office, don't go with me.
She was furious, she said are you ashamed? If youre not going with me something I said no I'm not ashamed but instead to help you and I make things worse I said you are from Poland now they will bring every Pole that they ever had so, being separate will only help our situation .. make it worse. But I have to tell you the truth now this time I was thinking not about myself in this situation because if I knew already what she wants from me mybe I will think differently, but I didn't know what she wants from me and I didn't know what he was doing and why he's hiding over there. And I didn't get any answer from her, absolutly nothing, so I said meet me there, I said certain places I was always looking it at you know what but that all this was making me to look for something if I had to escape or look for something if I had to escape or I had to do something you know in a different way then my regular life that I
It was so much pressure that there are no ways to express you know how much pressure there was. So, I like I said before even my life was supposedly under control it was never it was just never. This what I make a difference when I talk people who were number of years transfered to different camps, but they had because they did know they survived the day they wouldn't be killed, but they didn't have all this way of thinking or maybe they did who knows, I cannot read there mind you know maybe they did have it because after me it seems that my pressure was so impossible that really by the end did it really pay because they were in the heads of Germany I felt that I was the head of myself. and that I make the wrong step it will be me and they make the wrong step they will be killed for it because because German wanted this way, had they didn't know I'm Jewish, I will make the wrong step, so she is mumbling crying, try to think don't get hysterical because you want to help I know you want to help and you have to help too, again the same thing, and I said Danusha, go to work and she said no I won't go to work because I know something happend there. I said I can not be responsible for it, if you wouln't go to work you will bear the consequences. And if I go with you I will be put to death so instead of help I will be.. of helping, I will be no good to anybody definitely not good to you and Hendrick.
It didn't penitrate to her at all, she was very angry and shortly after she called me again a couple days later that he's arrested, I couldn't understand what she said, or he is arrested or he run away I couldn't understand what she say and she only knows that she has to run away too and now I don't have to help him cause he's already whatever happened to him, but I have to help her. And she has to run away I have to go back a little bit and she didn't come, Danusha, and they asked me what happened, they didn't ask about him but they asked about Danusha because they knew already they a couple but Danusha they felt she, no when I told her this time that she should go I think she went and then she went early back home or something or whatever, or to her apartment I didn't want to know. Once she asked me to spend an evening wih them at their apartment, I said no. She call me, I don't know if he run away or was arrested, but she said, You have to help me. I said, How can I help you? Come with me, I said I'm working now I can not go, and while we are there she is giving me her key, I said I don't want your key. She says, Have it! And you know everything is just like a destiny. And as we are waiting a train comes by and I say go, because she she didn't know what to do, I said go, I am with you here. I walk away from the little patr we were standing, It was hard to see, we were not noticable so easily I went