Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

The German Invasion

Where were you when--if you remember, when the, when the Germans...

I remember.


I'll never forget it. It was a horrible time. Uh, it was um, it was on a Sunday. They came in with tanks and, and uh and uh and uh and horses and it was--we sat quiet. We didn't want to show any enthusiasm. But the general population showed an awful lot of enthusiasm. They um, came towards them with flowers and uh and they were so elated. And they were yelling that--to the Jews, "Now it's going to be your end." And um and the Germans riding--road into town. And we were sitting on the porch. And a terrible thing happened. Two guys that were doing business with my father came up to him and grabbed him and said, "Come on." He said, "Where are you taking me? What's happening?" He says, "You dirty Jew, you close your mouth. You'll find out in a minute." My brother um, was--managed to run into the house and he went in the attic. And right away we had to go--we went into the house. We closed the shutters. And we didn't know what was going on. It was horrible, the unknown. So we s...stayed in the house for a couple of hours. And my mother and I decided we have to go and see what's happening.

They took your father.

They took, they took 200 Jews--males, middle-aged, not young ones. And they brought them into the center of the city. The, the cities had always um, a square where the marketplace was. They brought them and they sat on the ground and they had their machine guns pointed at them, ready to shoot.

This is the Germans.

The Germans. So uh, the women whose husbands were caught started running and, and to the, to the priest, to the, to the mayor of the city who was appalled, the priest was--there was a uh, um, a Polish uh, um, priest and, and the ministers of the, of the Ukraine uh, churches. And they started begging them, "Do something for us." So the Germans did it as a, as a matter of fact, as a preventive to show that they will not tolerate anything that will be done to a...against them. So they--first they, they grabbed the Jews. And then they said that this happens to be a communistic town, these are all communists and, and they're going to get rid of them, of this group. So my, my mother and I and the women started running. And the priest and the mayor came to the Germans and said, "Yes, there were communists, but they all escaped into Russia, so these are all good Jews." So towards the evening, they released all of them 'cept they held twenty-two. They sort of picked at random twenty-two people. And uh and the rest of them they sent home. And the twenty-two people they kept as hostages in case during the next few days if something will happen to a German soldier, this is what they'll do, they'll kill them. And by the same token, they gave freedom to the gentile population. They announced it publicly, that they can go and loot and steal and grab to their heart's desire of whatever they want from the Jewish homes. And they did. They were looting. But, you know, a funny thing happened--a funny um, they had a Befehl--a command. That's very important for the Germans, that they can have their freedom up to midnight and then they can't do it anymore. So they caught a gentile guy. He was--he was uh, robbing somebody of sh...shoes, he was taking some shoes. They took him and they put him together with the twenty-two Jews. And after a day, they, they, they took them out into the marketplace and we heard that they are digging like a grave. So everybody was sure that this is what they are going to do, they are going to kill the, the Jews and that's where they'll bury them. But a different thing happened. They shot this uh, gentile fellow to show if they give a command they mean business. And they released the twenty-two uh, Jews.

Was your father with the hostages?

No, my father was not in the m...with the hostages.

Well, did he tell you anything about what happened or anything?

Well, he--we were there. We were there constantly.

You were...

We were there when they were sitting on the ground. They--the rabbis were there. They--the Germans and the Ukrainians came up. And they were just tearing their beards, tearing out their hair. It was a horrible sight. But they were elated, the gentile population. They were beaming with pride of what's happening.

They didn't worry that the Germans? They had, after all, invaded...

Pardon me?

They didn't worry about the Germans being the enemy and...

No, the Germans were their ally. They didn't consider the Germans uh, the, the, the enemy.

Because they were all anti-Soviet?

That's right. They, they, they were happy to get rid of the Soviets.

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