Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Being Blackmailed by Poles

So, you were on the Aryan side. Did you know anybody on the Aryan side?

How would I know anybody? A Hasidic boy know anything on the Goyishe side in Warsaw after being there six months?

So, what did you do?

We got out and we, you know, we really thought that the whole world was looking at us--all the goyim are looking at us, "Hey, Jews are out," you know. It's like the lions just left the cage and they, they are roaming the streets. So within, within minutes as we started walking, you know, we're looking around towards the water, a band of like Polish uh, kids came up. "Hey, Jews, where are you going? Where do you think you're going? We know you just escaped the ghetto. We know it." "Okay, what do you want?" "Okay, give us your money. Give us what you got hidden. Give us all your gold, whatever." I remember we gave them, I don't know, whatever we had, you know. Odds and ends, a pocket knife, a few złotys whatever it is. They said, "Okay, okay." The leader said, "Okay, let them go." We walked up a little further, another band came out, you know, from the lower river--see the river was like lower, this was the road. This was the uh, uh, the river and from the road to the river, you know, it went like a, you know, down below, so they would come up, you know, suddenly they'd come up. "Hold it! Where are you going, Jews? We want your money or we'll turn you in."

They just knew you were Jews?


I mean, you weren't wearing the bands at that point?

No, no. We didn't have the bands. I mean, these people they call them Schmalzowniks. They made it their business, yeah, to pry. They were, they were prowling the streets on the outside for escaping Jews. So, obviously, we weren't the first ones to try and get out, you know, by--with the streetcar. So, they were aware of it. And uh, the second band threatened to turn us over because we had nothing to give them. And I remember I became the spokesperson for the group--for all five of us. I said, "Look, we already gave everything up to the other gang. We have nothing left." Well, one guy says, "Let's turn them over, these God damn Jews. Let's turn them over--let's call the commandant and uh, let's call the army." You know the bridge we had to cross--the bridge to go to, you know, uh, Warsaw is like St. Paul uh, Minneapolis-St. Paul--divided by a river. Yeah...


...the other side is Praga. In order for us to get away from Warsaw, we had to cross toward Praga and then on. How do you cross the river? You've got to go to a bridge. The bridges during the war are guarded by guards--German guards. So, this one guy said--he says, he says, "Eh, these Jews, let 'em go, these, these..." what do you call it, ??? meaning uh, "That bastards Jews." He says, "Let them go." He said, "They're not gonna go any place. They got no place to go." He said, "They're gonna catch them anyway." And this is how they let us go. So, off we go like a column of ducks and we had a quick meeting.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn