Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Nearly Being Exposed for a Jew

You told me about another time once...

With the...

...with one of the farmhands began to suspect that you were Jewish and your friend, the police--the sheriff's son, vouched for you.

Yeah, that was, that was already in 1944. In 1944 the Russian front is approaching and that day Russian artillery is firing already overhead over the village--past the village. This is like June, July of '45--wait--no, no '44. June, July of '44 the front is finally moving. The Germans are running. The Russians are approaching. The artillery is firing away and every pounding of a shell, to me, it was like the greatest music. Liberation is coming. So, we all, we--nobody wants to get killed. So in the village they have these walk down basements in the courtyard in the back of the house, you know, it's built with rocks on the outside and you walk down steps, you know, they keep potatoes there in the summer, you know, so we all sit there. Suddenly, the doors open up. German soldiers--SS are yelling, "Everybody raus!" Trucks are lined up. There are already people sitting on the trucks from other villages and we find ourselves on these trucks and off we go into the back. And I said to myself, "My God, is this ever going to end? Where are we going now?" Some were crying that they're going to shoot us--I mean these are Poles--they were all Poles now. And they take us to a city called Łomża--it's a major city. In Łomża they take us--and this is further west, see now they're going away from, you know, they're moving west towards Berlin. They take us to Łomża and they put us in the city--the jail, which is a large building with a big courtyard, but a high fence, and they quarter us over there. They leave us to sleep there and they set up kitchens and the next morning, they take us out in battalions to dig trenches for the German army and everyday it's like five o'clock, six o'clock, you know, as we start digging, the Ger...Russian spotter planes come up and they see us, they see the yellow sun coming up and I turn around and a couple of fighters come back and machine gun the place. So, this went on for several days. We're hiding with this and the villages are burning and these are--the Russians are doing all that. And we're there--we were right there on the front lines. And uh, while we were staying there, I told you about the story, you know, there were--there must have been maybe three, four hundred people, you know, from different villages and from my village there was the sheriff's son and other kids my age--boys, girls.

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