Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Steve Collins - May 10, 1982

Pre-War Poland II

Were you restricted to certain streets that you could go on?

No, no because...

Would you shop in all the stores?

Was all Jewish stores, most of them were all Jewish, yes.

What percentage of the population of Płońsk would you say was Jewish?

I would say about ninety.

Ninety percent.


So, in other words you were never limited where you could go?

No, were not. Uh, sometimes they came back, the Christian children summer vacation, they come back like Warsaw to Płońsk from the, from the university, you know, like here would be college. They came back and they used to storm up--the Stas Narodowsk, which means nationalist. Used to make a little trouble when you was walking down the street, for the Jewish...was walking the main street. They used to stir up some trouble while there hitting the Jew, they always was organized, very ??? we took care of them, we knew every one of them. By waiting for them and...

What year are you talking about now?

Until the, before 'til '39...


Oh yeah, pre-war. Oh, sure...that's all the time like this. All the time I can remember when we went to school we used to, many times in the street fighting, or whatever, always fighting, never peace ???.

Was it boys just fighting like boys would fight or was it actually about anti-Semitic...

Anti-Semitic, the boys was anti-Semitic...was anti-Semitic over there.

Was there destruction to the, uh...


To property and...


To the cemeteries?

No, no this was not...


No, this was never happened to my knowledge, no. No, I was ???.

But people...did what, what kinds of things did they do that made you know that they were anti-Semitic?

Uh, they, they would attack you in the street.


They're drunk, they'll attack you...you're a Jew. They'll pull you...pull you the beard. Some Jews, grab and pull the beard. I mean uh, that's not much...it uh, single incidents.


You know, grab a Jew drunk and pull on the, you know.

But you always felt that there was an aura of anti-Semitism?

Oh you felt it every place. Even when they went to introduce you never a name. Oh they say "the Jew from Poland I met in Germany," some Polack. But still to them you're still a Jew. Polack, never a Polack to them just Christian, only Christians are Polack, no Jews, always a stranger. 700 years when the king Kazimierz Wielki, I don't know if you know the Polish history?


Came in, must be over 700 years, but in Pole you still was a Jew to them. And the right you got, was from the military government they gave you the passport, you know. So we didn't have any rights. You go before the military you have to register, you know, for the draft and then they gave you the passport and you was a citizen.

Then you were called a citizen?

A citizen, yes, mm-hm.

How many generations did your family have to live there to be considered a Polish family?

Uh, you're never Polish, to them you're never Polish.

Well you just said that you...

Citizen, I was still a Jew you never Pole--a Polish citizen. Although you're never accepted.



Among the...

As a Polack, you never Polish. You're still a Jew, you're a citizen of Poland...


But you're not a Polack. They will never consider yourself a Polack, you're a Jew.

I understand.

You're a citizen, yes. But like here would be American ???, American Jew, you know.


Whether you a citizen ??? a Jew, you know, same thing in Poland.

How religious would you have considered your family?

It was an important religion...I don't know, it's important religion but uh, suffering ???.

Well I'm trying to get a picture of pre-war...

It was not special, it was not...we wouldn't call it religious, no. Plus the, people was always free thinking people.

What was Shabbos like?

Oh, Shabbos like, yes Shabbos was al...we never cooked on Shabbos. Mother cooked Friday, not always was enough to cook. But we always made like traditional, traditional Jewish Shabbos.

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