Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Biegun - August 10, 1983

Returning to Zhetl II

What's the first thing--what's the first thing you remember you or the other people wanted to do when you got back to the...

The only thing we wanted is food and clothes.

Just food...

We were hungry, starving, and when we came back there wasn't too much, but then, you know, the Russian army brought us food, you know, flour so you could bake, you know, stuff like that.

Now, when you were in the woods, I assume that uh, that you were on the, on the run and hiding, that uh, there may have been disease with all the lice?

Oh yes, we had a lots of lice and sores, you know, we had to shave heads, you know, like bald headed because otherwise, the lice, and you get sores in the head, typhus, lots of people died of typhus. Um, they used--the only medicine they had from the beginning was ham. We used to fry the ham, and the grease, you know, the fat from the ham, to rub the sores on the head and on the neck. And this was our medicine, or leaves, you know, old fashioned stuff, some grass or leaves, but most of the sores, we used to use the ham. Ham was like medicine for us. We used to fry, you know, everything. A little job, but they used to watch. Some people used to steal from each other too, you know. If you had a little bit of medication, you were asleep, you know.

You said you had taken a, a muff, muffler with you?

Yeah, I had uh, a little fur coat, you know, fur coat, hat, you know, with the muffler, all, matching set, and with this, I ran away to the forest. I mean, it was so much with lice, you know, that we, my brother, my sister used to help me pick out the lice, I mean, you know, you get sores, scratching, sickness and all these things. I was sick a lots. But, all the medication, I don't know how I survived, but I survived. I suppose I was lucky. Somebody up there li...you know, was taking care of us. So, we pulled the, the fur, you know, from the coat and the muff and in the hat because--'til, 'til we pulled so much, there was nothing left, just a little lining. There was no fur was left already from so much lice, you know.

So, when you got back to the town, were there people who were sick when they got back?

Yeah, there was. A lots died in the forest too of typhus and all the sickness.

Did the Russians provide medication?

Yeah, the soldiers, yeah. If you needed the...they helped you. And if it was emergency, you know, very serious, they took us, they took you on the trucks and took you to another city a little bit farther and a bigger town, like Baranowicze or Novoyel'nya, you know, all these--it took ti...a long time to get there, but they, still they tried to help. They were not bad from the beginning, you know, the Russians. In times from the war. Afterward, the attitude toward the Jewish changed.

How long did you stay in Poland?

We stayed in Zhetl, I don't know exactly how long, a short time because in '46, we were already in Poland.

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