Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Life in the Warsaw Ghetto

You mean you were eventually conscripted into labor gangs?

Yeah, and then we were locked in. Then they started building the ghetto.

Do you remember when they started putting the wall up?

Uh, December in 1940.

Do you remember seeing the...

Yes. They were building--they were putting up--brick layers were putting up brick walls.

Jewish brick layers?

Uh, I don't think so, I don't think so. I think it was Polish bricklayers because they were building it from the outside. They were not insiders. Otherwise, outsiders were building it, not insiders. Then people starting coming in, you know. See, a lot of those pictures--the news reel people with all their bedding and, you know, shmates and packages, cart drawn by people, you know, like rickshaws.

Did any of those people have to move in with you?

No, no. I don't know where these people ended--because they were packing them in from all over-- from small cities. And everyday you could see, you know, caravans of people going and sort of disappearing into the walls, someplace, I don't know, not, not to us. But I suppose they were visiting friends, relatives, whoever, you know, squeezed in more and more. Because in the apartment where we lived, we had our uncles and uh, all their kids, my grandparents. I mean we were pretty much packed in, wall to wall. There was no room for anybody to come in. I think it consisted of one--of three rooms. Two rooms and a kitchen.

And the food supply?

The food supply was strictly what we could get from rations, you know. Some very bad bread. So much, I remember so much per week uh, and, uh...

And the potatoes you brought?

Potato peelings and potatoes. Whatever we could trade on the outside in the black market. The Poles would bring in and we would trade off and sell all your belongings and so on.

Did your brother--you went outside the ghetto to get the potatoes?

No, no.

So you didn't do any smuggling outside?

No, no. It was all inside the ghetto.

Was your brother as adept at this as you were?

Not, not quite. No, not as good, not as good.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn