Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Szymon Binke - June 16, 1997

Work in the Ghetto

Did you do any other work in the ghetto?

Like what?

Well, you had these two jobs and then any sort of freelancing?

Oh yeah, at first I was selling uh, saccharine and candy. We had a, a friend of my father's was a candy maker before the war, so you know at the beginning there was a little sugar and he started, he was making candies, so I'd be peddling his candy right in the corner of uh, uh, not far from home. Let's see, let me find Brzezinśka and, oh boy. Again I lost it. Let's see. Brzezinśka, Franciszkanśka, right around here, which was real close, yeah. Oh no. Wait a minute. Right here. Młynarska and, right here, in this corner. See we lived here. It was only a block away. So...

So how did that work? Did you, did you buy the candy from him?


And then you would sell it for...

Yeah. A little profit.

And did people buy?

Sure. That was just the first year or so maybe, not even a year, but then things got, deteriorated.

What kinds of images do you have about the ghetto when you think about it? What, what comes to mind? What did it look like? What...

Dreary. Crowded at first, because at first uh, we started out with 150,000 Jews in this little area. But then you have plenty of room after, after a while. They kept bringing in people from all the suburbs. They brought 'em in from Czechoslovakia, they brought 'em in from Vienna, Austria, they brought 'em in from Germany and I think when, in 1944, I think we were down to about 30,000 or something, I don't even know. When the last...

What would a typical walk through the, the streets be like?

We didn't do too much walking. You know, we didn't go for Spazier, like for a, for a walk. You just went to work and came home and...

Well, what would that be like? What, what time did you go to work?

Probably eight o'clock in the morning.

So you worked in the days and not on night shift.

Uh, no. Uh, the first job I worked night shift. I started out the night shift. That's right. Uh, that uh, metal uh, factory. I worked on a lathe. But the controls are supposed to be waist high. Well, to me they were up here, so I found a box I could stand on where I could, because the, the numbers on the controls, you have to look down on 'em. Well, I wasn't tall enough. So when I stood up uh, on a box I could see the numbers on the...

How did they assign an eight year-old to work on a lathe?

Well, I was lucky. I was big, you know. I was--how did they assign--either, you either, like I told you, you either work or you had a chance of uh, gettin' caught and sent away.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn