Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Steve Collins - May 10, 1982

Pre-War Poland

You worked in the home...

Tailoring, yes.

As a tailor?

Yeah, mm-hm. ???.

What kind of schools did you go to in uh, in Płońsk?

Public school, public school.

Public school. With goyim?

Oh, no.

With non-Jews?

No, no just Jews. We went got...

Was it a private school there?

No, no, government school.

Government school.

A government school...

Set up for Jewish children?

No, was all... was one building.


In the morning the gentile children went to school to one o'clock--to twelve, from eight to twelve. After, one o'clock, we went to school until six. Same, same school, we were never together.

The same teachers?

No, Jewish teachers. No, not the same teachers.

In other words, you had a whole different crew that came in...

Yeah, completely separate ???, no.

Did you, did you go to a Hebrew school too?

Yeah, in the morning. In the morning I went to the Hebrew.

What was that, a cheder?

Cheder, right. We went there until like, twelve o'clock--from eight to twelve, and later come home to daven and then to the public--goyish school. One school to another 'til the evening, 'til the night. Come home about six. From eight, from eight o'clock in the morning until uh six o'clock in...

What subjects did you learn in the public school?

In the public school? Okay, grammar, history, geography, nature.

Mm-hm. Until what grade did you go to school?

I go...five.

Until the fifth grade?

Five grade, yes.

Was uh, was it possible for a Jewish person to go beyond that grade?

Uh, very few, seven grade maybe three, four in the whole, in the whole town, three or four people made to seventh grade, in the whole town. Plus over there uh, a few thousand Jews, maybe. I don't know exactly the amount...I know was about, I couldn't tell ya how many Jews passed--how big the Jewish population was. And uh, I--you couldn't do nothing with your education. Mean you're a Jew, you couldn't even sweep the sidewalk or to clean the street, because you a Jew.

Excuse me, are you talking about pre-war...


Pre nineteen thirty-nine?



Pre-war. Pre-war I'm talking, yeah. You couldn't...a Polack, the city...the streets belonged to the city.


They have to be uh, Catholic or be a Polack. They had to be Catholic, but we Jews, we couldn't even sweeping the, the street.

Oh, in other words you couldn't get any government job?

Yeah, this was a city job. This was, this was the city job, not the government, this was the city job. You couldn't do it even. You know like winter used to get a few pound potatoes or some food, flour a couple pound. I don't know--they never give to the Jews. To the Jews never, never to the Jews who need help, never. Even the little what you get you have to be, you, you're a Jew. They discriminate. So discrimination was in Poland. You have to be self-sufficient, tailoring and the market is ???. Everything self-sufficient for yourself and one another. Like a shoe maker or the shirt maker, clothing uh, carpenter. To survive yourself, a couple people went maybe to France; maybe they went to high school. My time maybe four or five ort or went to high school. What ???...

I understand, oh excuse me, I understand there was a large uh, furrier business in Płońsk?

Oh yeah, furrier...clothing, very big.

Was your father involved in that?

No, no.

Tailoring of those, those...

No, no it was lot of furriers and shoe makers, very--used to come from out of town. Very organized. Political life, I mean, very.

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