Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Isaac Engel - June 16 & 25, 1992

Outbreak of War

Do you remember um, when the war started?

Yeah. September the first, 1939.

Do you remember where you were when you heard about it?

Oh yeah, when I heard about it I was in--I was home.

And how did you know that the war had started?

Well, they said it. Next door--not everybody had a radio. Next door. We had, lived next door the guy had a radio. We had it--not only this, there was already--the, the government organized militia. And we knew it already the war has started. We knew that. And there were some papers, newspapers too.

So were there troops marching through, Polish troops marching through?

Oh yeah, yeah. But they were no match.

What, what was the reaction in your family or among Jews in Zwoleń?

See it's, their reaction--they knew the Germans from the First World War. I didn't knew the Germans. There were plenty Volksdeutsch who lived around--near us, not far. Like about seven miles away. There was a village, big large one--Wladyslawów there were just Germans there, maybe two Polocks lived in the whole village there. And they had their own church and their you know, the most of 'em they were ??? because the uh, Poles were Catholics. Ninety percent of the Poles were Catholic. And, and they were different and they had their own church and they had minister and they had--matter of fact they used to come and buy by us. What they were farmers. Most of 'em were farmers. They used to buy by us. The, so--when uh, they came in, it was horrible. They started, the trouble started right away. The minute they came in. In eight days they were in our city. So--and we were not home anymore. Because they started bombing our city on a Wednesday. Friday broke out the war, on Wednesday they were bombing the city a whole day. Mit fire bombs and everything. Na...and you name it. They put up fires, the city was burning on all side. And uh, and on, on, on Fri...so on Wednesday night we went out, and we left the house and we went to the woods. And all of the people were killed that day from the bomb, from bombing. And they were strafing with machine guns from the airplanes. Of course, they didn't have any anti-aircraft guns. They were--when the war started, like a, a few days before they started to buy, they were going to buy anti-aircraft guns. They didn't have it. They didn't have any. Also small, a little airport and they didn't have any anti-aircraft gun. So, they were--came, came down very low. And they were strafing people with them and with the guns from the airplane.

Was it a Jewish neighborhood?

Oh yeah, mostly. It was, I would say, fifty/fifty.

So did they hit the Jewish neighborhood particularly?

Yes. Of course the Jews lived in the city, in the heart of the city.


The businesses. And the Polocks lived there. They hit some of the Poles too, but not that many. And what they didn't bomb, they came in, they put everything on fire. They burned down...

The whole city.

Almost. More than half of the city they burned down.

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