Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Steve Collins - May 10, 1982

Living Conditions in Płońsk


Fish and many times we couldn't afford a fish or, or chicken. Over there, sometimes just boiled not the neighbors to know it...was very poor. Many times she just boiled water to the, the neighbors she's cooking. There was nothing in the pot, many times. My mother got to know people, what's going on ???, many times there was nothing to eat, just the water. When I was growing up not always, but was many times, over there. Went to school, I went to school many time hungry and I come home there's nothing to eat either. Then, even to eat, I didn't--as a child could never develop mentally or the, the how you can learn in school when you're hungry, developed. I mean, for what, I come from a very healthy family. I mean, would be--got enough nourishment I would be different--developed mentally and physically. We still had the Polish ??? and healthy, whatever...would be a little different maybe a few inches taller, and mentally more developed.

Were most of the people of your town in the same condition?

Uh, mostly poor, yes. Very few got enough food, I would say. I would say about ninety, ninety-five percent of us were poor in the town, yes. It was...you have to survive by self...

Were the non-Jews in a different class...were they poor too?

No, poor too, very poor all over. Freezing to death into the snow. Come home night they never heated room, but the winters over there is cold, maybe ten, fifteen below zero.


They never heat, in winter there was no heat, never have an oven. Just a little kitchen to cook, maybe you cook, was warm in the whole night--they didn't cook, was cold. I remember the walls, the snow was, must be five, six inches of snow through the wall in the house. Got up in the morning, was thick, about five inches of snow through the wall. Go in room and getting dressed, it was so cold. I mean, freezing in the, in the--there was, was no, even...uh, sanitary facility like here.

There were no toilets?

No toilets in the whole town. There was no baths, nobody got it. Was no water, you have go in winter, there was one pump. You have to go to the pump to get water in the whole of the town there was one pump. And sometimes the ice must be three, four feet deep. The water arounds build up the ice could break the neck over there, need to get water. In the day I used to go like come home 'bout ten, eleven o'clock ??? to bring water. We used to fill up, used to have a barrel. I used to, about eleven o'clock at night go over there and fill up the barrel with water--bring water home and fill up the family will have enough water to cook. Was in a barrel, put a whole day's water. Was over there, this was our town. The center was like uh, the mark...center, every Tuesday and Friday the townies used to come in and bring the product. Fresh. Was no refrigeration...I didn't know that exist, the refrigeration. I never saw a toilet before the war, I never saw one. First time I saw when I went to Warsaw, the old fashioned where you pull by chain, that was my first time. The war. I am not ashamed to tell you I never saw a toilet. Over there, you pull, the water was running I was scared--I didn't know maybe I broke something, you know, I was pulling and I was uh, was the first time...war time. When the war broke out was, was not in this, was the town, not ???. And the people you didn't know, you didn't, you didn't know when you was poor, you didn't know how you live. But everybody was living, the most people was living the same. In uh, call rich to them, what was rich over there. Rich mean he got enough food...


...you called them rich. Here it's very poor. You lived like two rooms, three rooms, eight, nine children. It was very rich people. And this, we called them very rich because could afford maybe Friday uh, to buy car or a chicken once a week. This was the rich people right there, rich. That's, what's, called them rich, yes.

I see.

And that's what the--from the little town, the living, yes.

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