Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Erna Blitzer Gorman - July 12, 1989

Hiding in a Barn

He took you into the barn. What was the barn like, at least the part of the barn that you were in?

I can tell, you know I looked around, I can see my eyes scanning the whole barn when I came in and I see -- do you want me to say that my first impression of it? You know there was these huge bails of hay that I see in front of me. And on the sides he had bunches of leaves tied and hanging on each side of the walls of the barn. It was from top to bottom I don't imagine it was very tall -- when your small everything looks very tall but the barns in Ukraine were -- probably not very, they are very tiny maybe shacks even. Who knows. But he was drying that for the purpose of smoking, so it was like tobacco. It was some sort of leaf that maybe he could smoke that was like tobacco leaf and um, there was this wooden-made, matter of fact it was tied with ropes or maybe with from a tree - what are these called - vines - ladder and it was as you come in it was on the left hand side and as you looked at the loft there was a lot of hay. And that was the first impression that I had when I came into the barn.

What did it smell like?

Sweet smell.

The tobacco?

I don't know - sweet smell.

Then what?

Well, my father and the farmer went up the ladder, and after awhile they came down and when I came up there was this cavity that was made in the middle of the loft and there was this blanket which in my mind was brownish, so maybe it was a military blanket. At any rate, spread in the middle of it. And there was space between the blanket and the hay, but not much. Maybe 2 1/2 feet. On one side was the hay on the other side the roof was sloping down from the barn. It was a roof made out of, not made out of slate or anything, it was I can't figure out what kind, it looked like it was sheets of leaves, but maybe I'm wrong.

Could you stand?

I could. My father and mother were walking stooped around the blanket. There was very little space between the hay and the blanket and I see - I don't see my mother pacing so much but I see my father pacing back and forth but he was constantly stooped. My mother mostly sat by the blanket.

Was there a window?

No, there was no light at all except for a crack in the roof line and um, I tried to imagine how long it was - um, - I know that the two of us, my sister and I, could sometimes stand and look together through the crack and see the light on the outside. All I could see was the sky. I used to stand up on my tip toes because I wanted to see the children outside but I couldn't see the ground so the slope of the roof must have been such that all I could see was the sky.

But you could hear them?

Yes, oh I could hear them.I wanted to go out so bad.

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