Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Going to Białystok

Anyway, we came into Zaręby and we found out, everybody said go to the Białystok. Białystok is down the rail line, up another 50 miles--50 kilometers. So, we--the train line runs through Zaręby. Everybody showed up at the train and the trains don't run--there's no such thing as buying a ticket, you know. It was all, you know, you catch a train. You catch--literally, you climb on top of a roof, and that's how you, you go by train. So, when the train came in, it was packed like you see, you know, you see pictures of India--how they travel in India? That's what the locomotive looked like--like flies, you know, stuck on, all over. That's how we traveled to the Białystok.

So, now you're in the Russian zone in Białystok.

Yeah, now we come into Białystok, my brother and I, and we uh, we don't know where to go. So we--Białystok was quite a town with a lot of Jews, you know, it's a prominent Jewish city. And refugees must have been coming in everyday from all over so the city is literally overflowing with refugees. So, you know, we meet other Jews and what do we do? Where do we uh, eat? Where do we sleep? Well, I uh, there's a kitchen the Russians set up uh, soup kitchens. And sleeping, well, we sleep in the shul on the floor, you know. So we picked one shul and we went there and literally at night the whole shul was wall to wall, you know, people were sleeping on the floors. You can imagine, here we came out of a home, you know, we were looked after with maids and governess and a mother and a father. We were the darlings of the house, you know, pampered. And we come in now, we're living on our own, we're eating at soup kitchens, and we're sleeping on the floors, with the dirt and with the lice and, it was just unbelievable. Well, the next morning, I walked out again--we went out, you know, where there's a market, and there's people are, you know, trading and stuff, you know, it's like a flea market. And I'm listening around and somebody says to me, he says, "You know, the Russians are looking for young people, you know, to teach them profession to make them into young Komsomol, you know." "What, what does that pay? That's interesting, what do you get for being, Komsomol? I'll be a Komsomol. Do I care?" You know, what is it, what is it, in it for us? "Well, you get to go to school, you get rations and in the meantime, you know, I mean, while they can't find you a place to sleep, at least you'll exist." So, the next day, I sign up for um, Russian railroad school to become a railroad engineer.

And your brother?

My brother, you know, his mind was not on railroad engineering, so, he's just hanging around.

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