Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Brysk - February 7, 2004

Start of War

Do you remember any talk about--besides from this one family from America that tried to convince you to leave--who they talk about impending danger in your household. Did they ever talk about...

No, there wasn't, there wasn't much conversation. I was so young most, you know, I was very young at the time, and uh, if they did talk about it, it wasn't to me or in front of me necessarily. Or even if they did, I probably just wouldn't remember it.

Do you remember where you were when the war started?


When the war started, do you remember where you were?

Yes, my--when the Germans declared uh, when they--aft...when they signed the Ribbentrop Treaty, the Germans and the Russians, there was an, an effort made by the Russians to take able-bodied men out of uh, Poland into their part of, part of--which became Belarus at that point. And my father, my uncle Sevek and my uh, my uncle--my aunt Ala's husband, Tadek all three of them left Warsaw. And they left for Lida, with the idea that uh, we would reunite with them after the Germans came in, before things were established and, you know, before anything happened in Warsaw. That as soon as things, as soon as they, as they were in, we would leave. And so they left, they left before Warsaw was attacked, uh...

So before the bombs dropped.

Before the bombs dropped.

Were you there?

I was there when the bombs dropped. Uh, I remember my father--my, my mother's mother, because my uncle had, had gone with my father to Lida...

Let me just check...

Is it okay?


Because my--because the men left, we--Ala was staying with us. So, you know, one day the bombs started falling and, of course, we ran into pre-assigned shelters. And this went on for quite awhile. And after awhile we got together with my grandparents and we decided we'd be together and run together to the shelters together while the Germans were attacking instead of all doing it uh, closest to the apartments where we lived. And uh, I remember running with my mother, you know, and scared stiff and uh, asking her what was going on. And she just said I wouldn't understand. And how, basically said to me--I mean, the, the big thing was, "Never let go, hold on to my hand. You must not let go." And that was the message that, that I remember from anybody who held my hand was don't let go. And uh, and my, my--and I was a very poor eater and my grandfather uh, said, after the Germans attacked, "When Mirala, who's such a poor eater is suddenly hungry, I know we're going to have a famine." And that's exactly what happened. And anyway, short...just very shortly after the Germans came--marched into Warsaw, uh, my aunt Ala and my mother and uh, we packed some of our things together, said our tearful goodbyes to my grandparents. My mother's--my father's mother was ac...Chana Liba was actually in, in uh, Warsaw at the time. And we asked them to come with us and they said, "No, things are so bad right now, we'll, we'll join you later." And so we left with, my mother and my aunt and I, on our way to Lida.

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