Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Preparing for German Invasion

Well, by Saturday afternoon, the city was very, very quiet. People started leaving the city. Nobody knew where to go. "What do you mean you're leaving? Where are you going?" "This way, that way." You know, people were going in all directions. There was an eerie quiet in the city, and nobody was from--there were no authorities left. Nothing. And everybody sat down and says, "Now we wait to see what's going to happen." Needless to say, the Jewish community--the Jewish people were so frightened. I remember that Friday night, all our neighbors came over to our house, and we were thinking of, you know, hiding all their possessions, you know, the candlesticks, the jewelry, whatever they had, and we decided to make one room. We had a room that led to a basement under our house--under the whole house, and we hastily gathered--we got a carpet to cover the space so it would not be visible, and it had one little window on the outside. A bricklayer closed it up and painted over it so it didn't look it was done. And I remember, we took most of our yard goods, and put them in there--in that basement, and all our neighbors brought all their--whatever possessions they had, put them in there, and we closed it up, and we sat back to wait for the arrival of the Germans. It was a very, very sad night.

Did people believe the Poles would stop them?

People wouldn't believe in anything. They didn't know what to do. It was just like if I asked you a question, what's happening in Russia now. I mean, people really had no opinions. They were just worried. What's going to happen to them when the Germans arrive?

So nobody said the Polish army was coming...

No, no, no. That was...

Did anyone think that it would be better under the Germans?

No. That was never a question.

It was to some people.

That they would be better under the Germans?

That the Poles were more anti-Semitic than the Germans, and after World War I, the Germans were, after all...

Well, my, my mother had an opinion. They said that while the Germans had bad in their Nazis, but the German people as such--she remembers the Germans from 1915, and they were very friendly to the Jews, because the Jews could communicate with them, you know, in German, and they were friendly, and there were a lot of Jews in the army, and they treated the Jewish people better than the, you know, the Russian Cossacks and the Czar's soldiers and so on. They knew that, but they also knew that these were Nazis taking over, so while they were not--they wouldn't trade them for the Poles, they were trying to sort of, you know, talk themselves into that it's not the end of the world. And it will come, and this and that, you know. They knew that Germany can't fight a war forever, and then on the third day, we heard that England and France, you know, declared war so it was just a matter of time before the Germans are going to be defeated and everything will be fine.

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