Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Brysk - February 7, 2004


We're in 1943 now, roughly?

This is...

Forty-three, '44?

It's still '4...it's the end of '42.

The end of '42?

No, of '43...


...excuse me. We're now--and the way they got food in the, you know, I have to tell you how they got food in the forest and somehow they--we got food in the hospital so we could eat. There were two kinds of peasants. There were those who were good Communists and there were those who collaborated with the Germans. The Communists were never touched. But those--the other guys? They'd come in with the guns, hands up in the air. They, they would uh, they would uh, uh, kill some animals and carry the carcasses back. They would take bread, flour, potatoes. If they had their boots, they would take them off or fur jackets and they would take them back to the forest. And that's how we got our food.

And what did you do on a daily basis in the forest...


....especially in the winter, I mean?

There were always things to do and there are always things to do because there were sick people in the, in the hospital.

So you were part, you were part of the hospital uh, staff.

Oh yeah. And, so, because my father was afraid that I'd be attacked or raped or other thing, I--my head was shaved, I was dressed like a boy. And on my seventh birthday--my eighth birthday, excuse me--on my eighth birthday my present was I got my own pistol, real live little pistol. It was appropriated from a German who had bought it for a girlfriend--nice little one, which I proudly wore on my side.

Do you still have it?

No, I'll tell you what happened to it when we got liberated.

Okay, uh...

So, I'm taking up a lot of time but it's such an unusual...

No, what I'd like to do is stop for today...

Yeah, okay.

...and come back. You can come to my office, whatever you want to do.

Yeah, yeah.

I think this is uh, I mean, I'm comfortable here if you're comfortable.

Yeah, I'm com...comfortable. It's just, it's just, it is just such an unusual story and the roles of Jews in, in, in, in running the hospital and the role my father in, in this whole thing. My father got the Order of Lenin from Russians after the war for his work in, in medicine in, in the partisans. And it's--there were so many victims and so few--that this--it was nice to see how Jewish ingenuity, you know, was, was being used to, to keep us alive and to keep the partisans alive.

In terms of Renee's interest in Jews rescuing Jews.

I, I wrote on my father. They somehow, in their--you have to remember with that my father, while, while he was operating on, on the Russians uh, he would--he had a hor...I didn't tell you this story, he had a horse. If, if, if a partisan was so bad that he couldn't make it, my father would ride out on his horse and go take care of this partisan some...wherever that partisan was. He would then sneak--go to these, go to these uh, family camps of Jews who didn't have a doctor, who didn't have this and didn't have that, and he would give them medical care so that they would have it. He was saving other Jews. Not only that, but when they made actions to go and get food from the peasants, he arranged it so the partisans--so the Jews in the hospital would conveniently lose some of it during the way, which was used to feed people, the, the people in the family camps.

You were right.

It's an amazing story.

A heroic figure, no question.

I mean, you had some people who were lucky enough, they, they found a, a hiding place or, or a place to be with children and who survived the war. But this was, you know, I, I went through all of this, you know, from the slaughter to, to the hospital to, to everything thereafter.

All right, let's try to...


...set up a time for next week.

I'm sorry to take so long, but it, it deserves to be told.

Oh no, don't be, don't be sorry. That's exactly as it should be, I think. [pause]

One of the pictures of my Aunt Ala that I have for the show. This is her before the war, this is her in the ghetto.

Oh. And it's called "Remembering Ala."

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