Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sylvia Feld - July 28, 1982

Surviving after the Bombings

No, no I mean, I--did you go to a special city in Czechoslovakia?

SF: No.

NF: Forced to sent us to Theresienstadt. [whispering]

SF: To Theresienstadt. Then when we went there then this was not when we went on trains uh, we went on wagons we walked and, and, uh, and, and marched every day like fifty, sixty kilometers we marched and marched and if somebody fell and couldn't march anymore then she would--they walked up and kicked them and, and left them on the ground even they were out of bread or something dying. We don't know till today what happened with those people. If they couldn't make it, then we tried with all our strengths to be with the crowd and to march. So we marched from city to city and finally, finally we reached the place but at night then it was very dark they put us up and, uh...

NF: Fields.

SF: On fields to, to, to uh, to rest a little bit and to stay there and whatever was possible on the way going there like to grab a potato from the ground or a carrot we ate with the dirt and this was for us already lucky.

Did they give you any food at all?

NF: No.

SF: They...

NF: Canned.

SF: They tried to give us a little bit of canned food what they carry with themselves. And, uh...

NF: Bread, some bread.

SF: And some kinds of uh, bread. You know marching they said--and I don't remember how long I really marched because it was a long time and I had kind of like army little boots and everything falled apart and my legs were swelled and I couldn't take it anymore. Then I said to my sister this is the time what I, I have to run away but we have no choice how to run because they were shooting after us. So one morning--I have to tell my story. One morning I got up very early in the morning and I looked outside. Then uh, we weren't approached from, from the German army, nobody was there. They had a little house but they were sleeping in the house but we were sleeping on the ground. Then I said to my sister "I'm leaving now." And I had, and I was there with two friends, there were two sisters and we were very close, then I said to them "I'm leaving" then they want to go too but my sister uh, refused me. Then I was very hard on her and I said, "Now is the time what we gonna apart. You gonna have nobody, I'm not gonna have nobody and this is what you wanted? This has to happen because I'm leaving." And she saw I meant it. And we start, to uh, we start pushing ourself out uh, from the crowd that nobody should see it because we had to be in a way a little selfish. If everybody would run they would shoot and, and, and nobody would survive. So then I left with my two other friends and my sister was running after me. When we start running then next to us, not far, just uh, very close was a little like, um...

NF: Forest.

SF: Forest. And, and they start shooting after us and was a, a, uh, uh, holes in this forest we jumped in this holes and tried to, to, to uh, to hide ourself. We were laying there for a, almost for a whole day in those, in, in those holes because we knew the, the night gonna come then we gonna try to get out from there. In the meantime, after the night past by then early in the morning they had to leave this place to go further. Then the people, all the people, left further and we were there and when we were there they all left then we tried to escape in a different direction already to go where some place in the in the um, in, in the uh, country where, where uh, we can hide ourself. When we came to the country like a village, looked like a village, and listened then people, army people were sitting there and singing the German songs. Then we got scared again and we didn't know what to run anymore we felt like the whole world was closed for us. So in the middle of the fields was uh, um...

NF: Stack of uh, straw. [whispering]

SF: St... stack of straw. That like called this in English like a haystick...

NF: Haystack.

SF: Haystack. And we pulled out the straw from the middle there and was four of us...

NF: Pushed ourself in. [whispering]

SF: And pushed in, in the four of us. We tried to pushed ourself in and to hide ourself there in this straw. Very tired and, and, and, and we didn't have any food or nothing. It was the time, that time of the year was very cold and the rainy season and didn't stop raining and we were laying there. But in the middle of the night the other two friends and my sister were there I was almost from the older girls and then I tried to get out I want to be a hero. Then I tried to get out from the straw and I walked in to uh, not far to a neighbor then he had there uh, cattles and, and horses and it was prepared food, like some cooked potatoes and other things but I don't remember. Then I tried to steal a few, a few potatoes in, in, in mein uh, dress and hold it to my dress. Dogs were barking and I ran back and I went back and I fed my friends and all of them we had the potatoes and this was for us already like survival. A day later we were there we were uh, sitting in the in...inside and listening somebody was passing by. We were afraid that if somebody gonna pass by and find us there then they gonna send us back to the concentration camp. We didn't know then the war was already almost to an end. We didn't know nothing. We didn't know where we were. So then we listened to this man and he was whispering like a song of Polish which I understand the Polish language, it's my language. Then I had the guts with another girl to walk out and to talk to him to say a few words for where he come from, why he's there and all those questions. And he had mercy on us and we told him that we ran away from concentration camp and this is where we hiding that we had no place to go. And in the beginning he tried to help us and he put us up in his uh, barn where it was full of straw. And he said he's gonna make us a hole there then we can go there and lay there in this barn because uh, where we were was full of water. Then we went there the second night to sleep in this barn. Well he gave us the place but the place had dogs, two dogs, and the dogs didn't stop barking all night long. Then the owner came out and he said something is here happening because those dogs bark unbearable. Then the Polish boy his name was ??? and he was from Poland, from Krakow, then uh, he came and he told us we have to leave because if he's gonna catch us then he's gonna or kill us or, or, or do, do the worse thing then he was very frightened.

NF: Then he's gonna turn us over to the SS. [whispering]

SF: Then he's gonna turn us over to the SS because he's a very mean person. He was taken there for work and he was away, the, the same Polish boy, was away from home too. And he had a lot of bitterness too to tell us. So then finally we went back to the same spot where we were before in this uh, in this uh, uh, haystack and uh, he promised us that every night he's gonna come and bring us a little bit of food. We had to trust him because in the beginning we were very frightened or he doesn't wanna turn us over to the Germans because Polish people were very much against the Jews. There was a big haterage. I still remember being a child--always afraid for them but finally we had to believe somebody because we had no choice any more. But he was nice enough that every night he came. He'd steal a piece of bread, he'd steal uh, some potatoes in his pockets and he brought us there. And we lived there for awhile till I remember then we saw planes in the air and we said to ourselves this is planes probably what they gonna liberate us.

How long, how long were you in the haystack? Do you remember at all--any time period?

NF: A few days. [whispering]

SF: We were there a few days.

NF: [whispering]

Do you remember what month it was?

SF: Yeah, uh, he, uh, there, in, in the mean... we were there a few days. In the meantime, then the planes were there but was not planes what they liberate us then uh, we couldn't stay there anymore and uh, we went to, to different people in this little village and—to farmers and we tried to ask them and beg them uh, they need kind of a work then we wanna work hard um, the fields--anything with the chickens, with the cows--anything just to give us work then we can be there and they could feed us a little bit. And every--we decided between us that we not gonna go together because if we go together maybe something bad gonna happen. Then we decide everyone should go to a different farmer and ask for, for kinda of a work. So then we went, everyone went to a different farmer. We--then we start working and they really were nice to us. They fed us; they gave us bread and potatoes and we weren't hungry anymore. But working there...

NF: [whispering]

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn