Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Start of War

Do you remember when the war started?


Where were you?

It was a Friday morning. Up until--it was building up towards the war that year, and I was already following what was happening. The Commissioner was spending time in Moscow trying to sign up Tripartite Pact between our friends, Russia and England, you know, if we act together against Germany. And then, you know, Stalin called the, the deal the Stalin-Hitler pact, and that was--I remember it was very, very bad, because everybody was running around, "What's it going to be? What's it going to be?"

Even before.

Well, not exactly one day. It was like a month before. It was in the last weeks, and so the world knew we were going toward something, and the Poles started to shore up their armed forces, you know. I remember during the night--in the evenings, they would move tanks and when I look back at the tanks, they were about as big as this room--the little tanks--and the visions of the troops march somewhere going back and forth, and then they started a campaign to collect money for bombers, and leaning heavily on the Jewish community--on the merchants. We had to give money, I remember, towards, you know, to buy a plane and all this, all this was going on. But anyway, on a Friday morning, September 1st, I remember we got up. We were just going to go to, you know, to school--to cheder and we heard planes--squadrons of planes flying overhead and it sort of headed in the direction of Warsaw. I remember the first reaction of the Poles was, "Oh, those are ours. Look how many we have," and so on, everybody was looking, you know, looking up. And then within the hour, we heard explosions from far away, and the radio came out, "The Nazis have started a war against the Polish people, and we were all united," and the radio was blaring, you know. There was one radio in the city, and it was next door to us. This guy was a veteran, and he had this concession--the monopoly of the vodka, so he had a radio with a loud speaker. I remember hearing that, that, "Hitler and the Nazis attacked Poland, and our forces are meeting them head-on, and will decimate them, will destroy them," and I remember that afternoon, there was sort of a uh, mild panic, and the police disappeared. There was no law really in the city. Nobody needed it. Everybody was wondering how it's going to be, and this and that. But it was not bad yet, and they were, you know, on Saturday, I remember we saw Polish police picking up Germans--Volksdeutsche, Volksdeutsche leading in someplace ??? saying they caught this one was a saboteur and so on.

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