Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Taking Brother Back to Poland II

You had money to pay the Polish guide?

Yeah, it was złotys--whatever it was, we had some. She gave us some money and so on. And we--I don't remember how we got to ??? we went by train to the Russian side of the border but, we got there. We were immediately arrested by the--in those days, it was the NKVD which was before the KGB, as spies. Because the whole thing in Russia is very paranoid--anybody shows up on the border they knew everybody. Everybody was registered and the stranger showed up. So we tell them we're Jews. They said, "You're Jews. Are you crazy? Who are you trying to fool? You're Jews. Where are you going?" "Well, we want to go back to the Germans." "You're crazy." So, they said, "You can't be Jews." So they take us to a Jewish people--I remember it was somebody's house--and they checked us. We're talking to them Yiddish...

Checked you? Not for circumcision...

No, no, no, I mean the Jewish people. He said, "What, are you crazy? Why would you go back to Germany?" Well, I tell them my brother, this and that--anyway he convinced the Russians and they let us go. And we were about 10 people--I don't remember who the others were. There was my brother and I and that night when we met the guide and around midnight, we started cross...crossing the river on foot. He gave us orders that if he raises the cane, you know, we stop. Lowers it, we go. And it was so cold; the snow was up to here. And somewhere we forded the river across--the frozen river. We made it across.

The snow was chest high?

Yes, chest high. And I remember, you know, the Germans had projectors, you know, going over the river line, back and forth. So when the projector came in our direction, we were falling flat into the snow so we wouldn't be seen. And we finally, you know, we got across the other side. We waited till the morning and in the morning we decided to take a train to Warsaw. The rules of the game at that time Jews--no Jews traveling trains, or no trains were not clear yet. So, we got on, and I remember, we sat--no sooner we sit down, the train was packed, my brother and I--a German got on the train, looks around, the first thing he walks over to my brother and slaps him in the face, and he says, "You Jude? What are you doing on our train? It's for Gentiles." Gives him two smacks in the face and somehow, I don't know, he did nothing, nothing else--just walked away. That was the welcome. Anyway, we got to Warsaw.

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