Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Szymon Binke - June 16, 1997

Outbreak of War

And, and when the war began, do you remember where you were, where your family was? Was there any warning ahead of time?

Well, there were uh, we heard, uh they were fighting and we heard uh, uh, artillery. And we went into the, well like I told you my father knew a lot of uh, farmers, so we went into a, to a village in there and stayed with a farmer overnight and the whole thing, you know. We took a day or two and they were in, so after that uh, we came back home.

So when you, when you came back to Łódź, it was, it was essentially over? The fighting part.

Yeah. It only took two or three days.

But you heard the bombs.

They didn't bomb. We heard the artillery.

And when you came...

They didn't bomb Łódź...

When you came back was...

Maybe one or two bombs dropped on Łódź but nothing...

And when you came back, was everything the same?

For awhile. Not very long.

What, what started to change?

They started to catch people to work and this and that and then uh, they started to put us into the, this area. And we moved in with my father's uh, family.

In the ghetto you mean.

In the ghetto, yeah.

The BaŁuty district.


In the BaŁuty?

BaŁuty, yes.

Do you remember what, what went on in your home during this period before the ghetto? Were people worried?


You said that at one point your father had the opportunity to leave.

Yes, before, just before the war broke out. See, my mother was born in the United States, I believe either New York or New Jersey. My grandfather was called in the army. When a Jewish person was called in the Polish Army, it was like a life sentence, because they, you'd wind up in prison, in jail and uh, jail time didn't count as time served, so you have to make up the time. So twenty, thirty years you will get for that, at least that much time so everybody tried to get out of it. The only way you could get out of it is pay, to pay somebody and, and I guess he did get a fixer to fix that he stays out of the service. And uh, apparently it, he couldn't do it fast enough, so he told him to leave the country until, until he got this thing straightened out. So that's the time my grandfather came to the United States and my mother was born here. Then after it was fixed they went back and he reopened the bakery. So uh, bef...well see I, I know from what my father told me, my father and mother told me, that the uh, U.S. Consulate wrote a letter to my mother, naturally and uh, it said that it wasn't safe to stay in Europe for American citizens, to go back home, to go back to America. And my father had a good business and he, he, he knew what the Germans were like in the First World War and he said he's gonna stick it out.

So that, you think that was just before the war then.

Right. Yes. Probably '39, maybe a month or two before the war. Probably.

And was there every any discussion about that decision in your house?

Yes, well apparently there was, because that's how I found out about it. I didn't know it at the time but later on I found out about it.

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