Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Brysk - February 7, 2004

Being Separated from Father

Uh, another day we ran into a group of partisans--armed partisans. Hooray, we're saved, right? No. They said, "No, you can't come with us. If you follow us we're going to kill you. We don't want any children around here," and they left. And we continued this, wandering and wandering and wandering. Finally we ran into a group of partisans--a very small group [pause] that decided they, you know, we could stay with them for a little while. So apparently there was this old ziemlanka that some...somebody else had left that they knew about. So we all, we all got in there. You couldn't light a fire because we were under attack and, and so we all just lay there, you know, like sardines. One--body heat just making its way through. And, now the next morning we went out into the forest. The idea was that we were to scatter because it would be hard for the Germans to pursue, you know, they could pursue one or two, but they couldn't pursue the group that way.

And your father was off with...

Off--God, we didn't know where he was. We didn't know if he was alive, nothing. And so, so I, you know, being young and, and full of life, I, I ran into the front of the group. My mother was a little further back. And suddenly I look back and the group's not there and she's not there and I am with these three other men and they are running and trying to do their best to lose me. And I'm begging them--I keep telling them my father's Dr. Miasnik--if they ever got wounded and all that. Nothing. Worthless. These three big Russians. And I'm running and running, and finally I said to myself, "I have to save my, I have to save my lungs, I have to save my breath. I have to, I have to follow them or else I'm going to be just left alone wandering in the forest." So finally hours later they returned to the ziemlanka and I reunited with my mother. But that was, I mean, there wasn't any food to, to eat, but that truly wa...was a filling, a filling moment. And uh, so we continued like this for, for a little while more and then things quieted down. And then some partisans had, had come, had come there and they--and told us that my--that he, he had seen my father, and my father was well and that he was looking for us. And he had said to every partisan he could run into, if they were to find us, they were to bring us right back to him. And so we were brought back to where my father was. And uh, and at that time uh, uh, things were still in, in, in a, in a kind of in a vacuum because, because of the attack, the--things hadn't gotten back to normal. So my father put me with a family--are you familiar with the family camps?


The family groups. There were a few families lived together. And so he, he had gotten some potatoes that he brought to the group because they needed food. And they took us in into their ziemlanka so that we could be with them 'til, you know, things got normalized. And we were there, and we, you know, we had a little potato soup and all that. Then one, one evening they find this Jewish boy--there were, there were some more Germans around--they found this Jewish boy wandering--a boy about fifteen. And he was brought to the ziemlanka and he was just fr...frozen, you know. He thawed out by the fire, his clothing dried, he was fed some soup. And he begged that he wanted to stay with them. And they said they have no food, they have no extra space, no way can they take him. My parents pleaded with them. I mean, we were not residents of this ziemlanka. We were not part of the group ourselves. All the pleading in the world did no good. And one of the men took him out, took him out into the forest somewhere, lit a fire and left him to die. I mean, this is--this was how life was.

And you assume he died.


You assume he died.

Yes. Or if he did, I would have no way of knowing if he didn't. And we lived--and then in the meantime, of course, my father continued to be sent all over the forest. We never knew where he was.

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