Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Escaping the Typhus Hospital

And, here I'm 16, 17 years old. I'm a real starker I went in a starker. So, anyway, they said I have to stay another two, three days. I finally said to the man that maybe was a doctor, or a felczer--you know what a felczer is?

A medical aid?

Yeah, somebody like a male uh, you know, like a doctor's aid, you know, somebody that gives shots--like a male nurse. I said to him--I says, "I got to go back to work. My job is important. I've got to survive and I have to get my job." And I said, "In order for me to get my job, I have to get a certificate from you that I'm totally cured." I said, "If, if I don't have that, nobody will hire me. Nobody will let me..."

Was this a Jewish felczer?

Yes. So, he gave me a card on a piece of paper, "This man is full cured." I took that piece of paper and I remember I left the hospital. The hospital was like uh, two rooms like a--and I couldn't walk. I crawled to the road and as the wagon--the horse and wagon passed by the farmers, I would plead, "Give me a ride, give me a ride." And everybody would drive by and hit the, the horses with a whip. And they would yell out, "Get away, you tyfusnik," you know, you typhus bearer because only typhus people would be like me. You know, I mean, it was, you can't imagine what the atmosphere was. Typhus was the uh, kiss of death. It's like AIDS today. Somebody says he has AIDS you say, "Nu when do wesay" something like that. This was typhus. There was no medication. There was nothing. Either you made it or you didn't, and it was highly contagious. Finally, I convinced one farmer--I pleaded--he was driving the horses. I told him--I says, "I gotta go to Grębków." That's the village where I was working. I says, "Please give a ride. I'm cured. I'm fine. I just am a little weak." And he says, "Okay, get on". So, I got on, and I came back to the farm. And the woman says, "Are you--you're still sick aren't you?" I said, "No." She says, "Can you work?" I said, "Yes, I can work. I'll do all the work." And I says, "Here's a certificate that I'm cured." So then, this--she had a neighbor who was a real anti-Semite who came in and he said, "The tyfusnik is back?" He says, "You can't keep him in the house. Everybody will get sick." So I said, "I'll sleep in the barn. I'll sleep with the cows." He say, "No, you'll make the cows sick." Anyway, they let me sleep in the barn until, you know, a period that they felt I was going to be fine. In the meantime, the next morning I remember I was to go out--it was still winter--it was early--it was like early spring. It was still cold and I would go out to uh, you know, pour the water from the uh, well into the trough and feed the animals. I remember I had no strength to pull up the pail, you know, from the well. You had to pull it up by hand. But I did all the work and so on. This was, uh...

This was what, mid '42?

Mid '42. Anyway...

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn