Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

Hiding in Forest

W...While you were in the forest, was there ever any word about the Armia Krajova or any of the Polish resistance movements?




How about...

That, that was--you see, you see, we were in our--in eastern Poland was more uh, uh, Ukrainians and White Russians than Poles. The Poles lived deeper in, in Poland. That's where they organized the army, Armia Krajowa and all this. But there were partisans too.

There were partisans too.

That comes later, yeah.

Well, let me ask a quick w...were the Germans giving--offering rewards for people who...

Not the--yeah, the Germans were offering rewards.

Sugar or...

Yeah, a kilogram sugar for a Jew, a kilogram salt for a Jew. And they used to turn them in. And they turned them in. And they did turn them in.

For salt.

For salt and for sugar. And if th...in, in, in--and I'll tell you what, they would have killed them themselves with their own bare hands, even if the Germans would never give them their reward. They considered it a good deed to kill a Jew. They wanted to get rid of the Jews. And they succeeded with the German help. They succeeded with the German help. If they wouldn't have assisted the Germans the way they did, I guarantee you, thousands and thousands and thousands of more Jews would have been saved. They assisted them.

You're living in the f...woods now, the forest.

In the woods we're living now, yes.

With this farmer bringing you food?

Yeah. But then some other Jews came, running from the other ghetto. And he had some other uh, uh, acquaintances that he did business with and so we were already a group of about uh, about twelve people. My father thought it was too crowded already. It's, it will not work. He can not feed everybody. So we decided to leave this place. And we ran into the village of Karasin.

The village of Karasin.

Karasin. Near the village. And this was the--a very swampy area. The, the farmers were extremely poor. It was a village maybe of, maybe of 200 people or maybe not that much. They, they were, they were very, very poor. They ate bread only at harvest time, when they had to work in the fields, so they would have more strength. The whole year around, they lived on potatoes and cabbage and vegetables.

So this is b...between Dombrovitsa and Sarny?

And Sarny. This, this is the village, yes. That's where we--okay, so we de...we decided to make our home, sort of our home around that village because the, the--as I said, the farmers were not that hostile. They were poor themselves and a poor person understands another poor person. So we--but it was still summertime. And it wasn't too bad. We used to go into the fields and dig up potatoes and find whatever other foods we could and that's how--we built ourselves a hut, like a teepee, just to be covered from the rain. And we had a fire going. And uh, that's how we lived through the summer. And in that village were already coming other Jews escaped from ghetto. So I would say about fifty Jews roamed in that, in that forest, in that forest. And...

Just to clarify, the forests in, in, in the Ukraine and eastern Poland are not like forests--when people think of forests here, they think of a small bunch of trees. It's a huge forest...

No, a huge forest. Poland um, was known for a lot of uh, lumber. They used to uh, um, export lumber into other, into other lands, they had tremendous uh, uh, huge forests, dense forests, very dense forests. And it was, it was uh, I am glad to say it was good to hide in the forests, providing, providing the Germans did not find out or the Ukrainians. You know they, they knew the forests very well. So I am going to tell you how it came about that we had the sympathy of these uh, farmers. Uh, there was a Russian in that, in the village of Karasin. They knew that about fifty Jews are roaming, because uh, uh, uh, no matter, no matter how little they, they took out the p...potatoes from the fields so you could see you know, so they knew so, um. They were angry about it, but they didn't do nothing about it. But there was uh, one Russian teacher, he once--he called a meeting of the villagers and he said to them, "This is horrible, its not--its terrible, the Jews are stealing from us, they're taking--we have to do something about it." So what was it--what were their plan? To, to, to, to tell the Germans that they should bring in an army and start looking for the Jews. Well we found out because we had uh, farmers that were uh, sympathetic to us. They told us about that meeting. The following night one of our guys found out where he is sleeping with his girl in a, in a barn and he stabbed him to death. The Jewish guy stabbed that, that Russian teacher. He stabbed him to death and ever si...ever since then there was no German foot in the village. They were afraid to come because they already saw the beginning of Jewish resistance. You know, a Jew should dare to kill? Jews were not killers. So we, we--it was okay, but we were still, we were still in danger of the Ukrainians, not of the Germans. The Germans didn't come to the village but they were uh, uh, active helping the German army.

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