Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993


In cheder you learned about Piłsudski?

Yeah, we had cheder. We had reading and writing and Polish history, but we had just before--about three or four years before the war--there was a Jewish man from Nasielsk that had made a lot of money in America. His name was David Lieb Simon. As a matter of fact, I just met somebody in Detroit from ??? I don't know if you Max ???. His wife comes from Pułtusk, and that man was her uncle. I just saw her the other night, and she was telling me, "Did you ever know a Mr. Simon?" I said, "David Leib Simon?" And she said, "Yes." That was her uncle, and he spent many years in America and couldn't stand it, because he saw Shabbos was being, you know, not observed in America, and he couldn't live in this religious duty. They brought all this money to Nasielsk with his wife--she was American--and built a big building, and this was the uh, the so-called yeshiva that was advanced from cheder. Cheder was more melamed and ??? with the little kids. This was already advanced and in yeshiva, they brought in teachers--Jewish teachers taught history--Polish history. It was obviously uh, government uh, licensed or whatever. The government didn't give them any help, but accredited.

So, they must have taught Polish history?

Yes, taught Polish history, Polish grammar, and...

But you spoke Yiddish at home, didn't you?

Yiddish at home. We were not allowed to speak Polish in the house. My grandfather was strict.

So where did you learn such good Polish?

Polish I learned after I left the Warsaw ghetto. It was a six month uh, course that I had to cram in and pick it up off, literally, overnight, and incorporate it into my whole psyche where I could pass the test of Polish anti-Semites and Nazis not finding out. It really wasn't easy, because I, I was devastated when I had to live that kind of a life, and I, I had no Polish in me, but my--obviously, my ability to pick up languages helped me in this fashion. I mean, I don't know...

[interruption in interview]

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