Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sylvia Feld - July 28, 1982

Family Life

Alright. Can, can you describe your life before the war?

SF: You know I come from a family--say again?


SF: Come from a family with ten children; eight sisters and two brothers. I was the one from the middle and the middle uh, for the first, uh, for the first five, I was the fifth born. I had uh, very religious parents. My father was Orthodox. We had uh, we were at home. We were--it was a rich family. You know, our,--my, my father had uh, a leather store, export shoes in leathers and we had uh, big apartment house with uh, thirty-five tenants and uh, three story in the front.

NF: Stores.

SF: Three stores in the front. My father--my parents were Orthodox. We observed Shabbos and so our children were following the footsteps from the parents like we went to Hebrew schools and so we went to uh, public schools al...also. He was very uh, involved with the city. He was a personal, he was a person what uh, really gave a lot of his life to public. He was working with the public school. He was working with uh, with um, tax, tax, uh...

NF: Like here, IRS. You know we had, uh...


NF: Yeah.

SF: Like tax, you know? And uh, he was involved in the cities should have old obligations like Jewish whatever you know performed for, for the Jewish city. He was involved with uh, families what they lost--husbands and they were widowers left with little children. And like we had in our city a rabbi and uh, it's hard for me to explain in, in, in this country what kind of a life was in uh, in the small towns in Europe, you know? Then uh, you had to have a committee and work for the committee. Because we could always afford it then he was the one to help out and to give and he was trying to build a building where the, the, the society from the city was uh, involved there and working there. Then uh, the city wasn't able to pay for it then he took all the obligations for himself. And my mother was never against it. He, she felt then this is, was his life--not just having the family, not just the provider but she was the one that helped out in business because she had to substitute him because it was days but he was involved for many hours and he wasn't home then uh, and was uh, small kids then she was the one but we could afford her. We had like a maid in the house that helped us out and we had somebody watch,--took care on, on our apartment too. So I want to rest a little bit.

Okay [laugh], right. Can you just tell me how many were lost of your immediate family during the war?

SF: Yeah, when the war broke out, when the war broke out, then uh, we had two married sisters in Zduńska Wola then they lived there and right away a, a bomb hit our house and our house was in flame. And this was on a Friday and my parents...

NF: This Friday.

SF: Friday...

NF: This, this Friday...

SF: Yeah.

NF: When the war broke out.

SF: And um, and uh, my parents prepared the Shabbos and uh, it was the Challas and they make their, their uh, they make, they light the candles and my father went up to the table and make the Kiddush and we didn't have time anymore to eat and we packed the Shabbos things with us and took the kids and left the town. And when we start walking out from the city then we approached to another city you know uh, to run, to run farther because we already hear then, then the Germans stepped in, in the city where our city was. So then uh, for a day two we went to the city what my father was born and a...after that we want to come home to see what's happening then I left my father with the rest of the kids and I went home with my mother. When I came home with my mother we were standing in the middle of the city and looking from far away then our house was there located and the house was still burning in flames. Approached us a German what he was um,--wie heist es ???

NF: SS man?

SF: No, uh, uh policeman. Uh, but he was before a policeman in our city. He was a policeman and he came with another SS man, a German, and he asked my mother uh, from uh, from you, "From where are you from?" And she said from here. And he st... stood and laughed behind her back and pointed that she is the richest lady from the city. Then the SS man asked her, "Which is your house?" And she showed the house what is burning then inside and uh, he asked, "You still uh, rich now?" And he picked up his gun, from the back of his gun and gave her like a knock over her head. She want to pick herself up and she fell then she was wearing on her neck a little uh, a little--wie heist es bag? Like um, make from a hankie, uh, like, can you stop it for a minute? Like you make from a hankie, like a little, how you call this a bag, you know?

On her neck?

SF: Yeah. You put it on.

A bag on her neck?

SF: Yeah. She was wearing a little bag on her neck made out from a hankie what we did the last minute before we left.

NF: With jewelry.

SF: We couldn't take too much with us and we left everything but she put all her diamonds and change, gold, whatever she had and, and my father had a gem uh, a big watch like you know...

NF: Jewelry.

SF: A grandfather to the watch and all kinds of jewelry and she put it in and she was holding in her, between her breast and her chest, okay? Then when he knocked her over the head, when she fell then this bag fell out from her dress out and he saw that then he took his arm and tear it out from her neck and when he saw then we start running fast because we were afraid he's gonna kill us. He screamed and screamed he said, "Come back here! Come back here!" And we ran we didn't know where we went then we ran in, in fire where the house was burning on the sides where walls were. And he came close to us and start screaming that we should get out from there. Then my mother was hiding with her close to the wall and behind her I was standing and this was like noon time and we were there till it got dark and he left because he had all the diamonds and he left. And when it start getting dark, midnight, quietly we left the city then nobody could see us and we start walking out to leave and we never came back anymore there because the frightened, the city was against us, first of all Jews, and second of all because my parents were rich parents. They could afford all those things and, and they, they just want to kill us. So then, so now I have to stop again.

Can you give me an idea of your extended...

SF: I'm gonna...

I'm trying, I'm, uh, the question, the original question was can you give me an idea of your extended family? What was your...

SF: No, you said who died, yes.

But, you, you never answered.

SF: It's still running? Yes, I never answered. It's still running?


SF: Oh, Okay. So I uh, came to the point--other things I got carried away. But my, my two sisters were in Zduńska Wola and the family ours were in Zloczew. But we had, couldn't go back anymore because our house was burned up. Then we went to Zduńska Wola to live with my sister and we couldn't afford it to stay in one room, all the kids because we had a big family. One brother left to uh, to...

NF: He was in the army.

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