Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Isaac Engel - June 16 & 25, 1992

Family in Hiding

They were hiding. We had my father make a wall, like uh, it was painted and everything. Nobody could tell the difference and we were going up from upstairs. That's why, how I survived by not going to the concentration camp up until--because they used to come in the middle of the night looking for people, grab people. So I went right in there. And I--and that's why I survived 'til 1942 in the city. Otherwise, I, I would have been in a camp a long time already. Even, you know, they took me once from work and--but most of the times they used to come in at night and they used to come in, break the doors open. And if they saw any young people they take 'em out and send 'em away.

So all, all of you hid in this little, it was an attic?


Was it an attic?

No, it was to go in from an attic there. And um, and it was a double, a wall. Not big. Just about three or four people to go--to stand in it.

So who was hidden in there?

My father, my mother and my little brother.

Your little brother. And your older brother was already in the underground.

He was in the underground. And uh, and I locked the door with a padlock outside.

On the outside.

Yep. So it shouldn't be any--like, because I was for sure that I will be remain in the city. Because we knew already, everybody knew but nobody believed that, that they're taking those people and they're killing 'em. Because we heard it--this was, in, in '41 from the Lublin there. From that uh, uh, state, Lublin. Nobody knew happened to them, nobody knew what was, what happened to these people. We didn't know. But later, the air start smelling. One guy escaped and we start to figure out, we knew what was going on there.

At Treblinka.

That they're taking people there and killing them. That it was just a slaughterhouse. But people didn't believe. Nobody believed that. But we knew it. The night before, I want you to know, a guy by the name, his name was Gimpel Schloffhammer. He was a neighbor of ours before and he came in running to my father and he says to my father--this was the night before. We didn't know it, the city was already surrounded by Ukrainians. And he said to my father, and he--they almost grew up like together because when my father married and then they lived in the same--in my grandfather built--was my grandfather's Saul and they lived in the same house and were neighbors and good friends--he comes in--he was not a religious type of person. And his daugh...he had two daughters. They were photographer. So then, so he comes in running and he says to my father like this, my father was sitting and I was sitting, there was somebody else sitting there. Uh, his name was Herschel Darschel. He was from a town of Przytyk. Maybe you'll hear, there was a town of Przytyk where there was a pogrom before the war, like in '37.


There was a pogrom.


And these people they were beating back uh, they were, they were fighting back. And they didn't like people which they can fight back. So when the Germans came in there, they chased out all the Jews from there, from that town. Przytyk. So this guy had a brother in our city. And he was sitting with my father talking. And I was sitting here and uh, and this guy Gimpel Schloffhammer came in running and he says to my father, "You know, tomorrow morning all the Jews are leaving town here. And where's God?" He says this to my father. He says, "How do you know?" He say, "Finkler, one from the gendarme, from the German gendarme--I knew him very well--came in and he took a photograph." They had a big, big photograph. And he says, "You wouldn't need it tomorrow, to him, and if you need, if you'll be here I'll give you back," he says. The Juden ??? he says. The Jews are leaving town here and you wouldn't need it. So you just might as well give it to me instead of somebody else have it. And that's ???. My father and said him like this. "As long as we live, we shouldn't lose hope. But I can tell you one thing, we should resist and even kill one German. Kill just one guy. We will not succeed, but we should kill one German." And that was the end and he left. And uh, in the morning this uh, so when I locked him up--not only this, we didn't have any running water. So we had a well there. So I went outside, we had a barrel inside where we kept water.

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