Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Szymon Binke - June 16, 1997


Could you tell me your name please um, and if it was different when you were born tell me that and where you're from.

My name is Szymon Binke. I was born...S-z-y-m-o-n Binke, which is Shimon in Polish uh, born in Łódź Poland, November 21, 1931.

Um, can you tell me something about your family and life before the war, what you remember in Łódź?

Well, I had a father and mother and I had a little sister. She was born in 1940, May. No, I'm sorry, 1939, May 20, 1939. She was born just before the war started. And a uh, good close family. I went, well when I turned about six years old I went to school. It was a private school. In the morning you had regular uh, school, in the afternoon it was uh, religious. It was uh, a parochial school, religious uh, uh, education. And I used to have lunch at my grandfather. He lived, oh, about a quarter of a mile from where my school was. They'd bring me a lunch to school. Because this was an all day deal. I went there like nine o'clock in the morning and I came home six o'clock at, at night.

This is your, your paternal grandfather?

My paternal, yes.

And what abo...any other grandparents living in the city?

Uh, yes. I had a, well, he was mar...he, he married, he remarried. My, my paternal grandmother died. I never knew her. And he remarried. He married a, a cousin of hers. And uh, to me she was my grandmother, I never knew any different. Later on as I got older, I found out that she was not my father's mother, but uh, my father acted to her like she would be his mother and all the, you know they had other kids together later on. There was no difference. There was, there was my father and a sister, the sister that lived across the street from us from the first uh, marriage. Then there are uh, how many, a sister and three brothers that were from the second marriage, but to me they were uncles and my father never made any uh, difference between, there was no uh, difference between his sister and the sister from the first marriage and the sister from the second marriage; they were all sisters to him or brothers.

Now, so you had five aunts and uncles.

On my father's side. Well, one was married, so I had more. I had two s...there were two sisters. One was married and there were, let's see, Sol, Harry, Larry and four, four uncles on that side and two aunts.

And children? Did they, they had children?

Uh, one of them. The one that lived, the oldest one my father, you know, from the first marriage, he had a, a daughter that was about a year younger than I am.

And what about your mother's family?

My mother's family was one brother, he's still alive, he's in Israel, Natanya, Israel. Then there was two sisters, Golda and uh, yeah.

And what was her name, her maiden name?

My mother's? Braitbart.

And was she from Łódź as well?

That's correct.

So the whole family lived there.

Yes. They owned a bakery in Łódź, the parents did.

The extended family was aunts, uncles, grandparents, first cousins...

That's right. Now see...

How large would you say it was?

Let's see, with cousins and, probably about twenty-five.

And do you know, have any idea how many survived the war?

We happened to be a lucky family. We survived on our, on my father's side five of us survived, six of us survived on my father's side and just one uncle on my mother's side. Because we were all the right age, except for me. I was too young to survive, but I told you that story before. After we get into it I'll probably have to repeat it again.

Uh, did you see the family regularly? Well, you saw your grandfather.

Oh yes, yes. Well, my father's family I used to see almost every day because I went to school there. And one of the kids would bring me lunch. Most of the time it was the uh, my Aunt Fanny. She's, she's here too. She's alive.

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