Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

Encounter with Germans

And you were the only one now left in the village?

And I am the only one. But I don't know. I am lying in the house. But I walked out in the street and it's strange. I saw uh, a, a man and he, he was talking to me. And there are a couple of partisans standing. And I walk a little bit and then I became terribly cold and I ran back to the house. And I lied there on the oven, it was warm. And then all of a sudden about one o'clock during the day, I see German tanks with German soldiers. So I ran out in the--and, and I grabbed a ladder and I went on to the attic. And I--across the street, that was the headquarters of the partisans. They had pictures of Stalin and Lenin. And I saw Germans running in and shooting, shooting at the pictures. And I became--again, I became cold. And I thought to myself, I don't care. I mean I knew that I--that some--that the Germans are going to do something to me. But um, death didn't mean m... anything. I, I can't explain it. So I went down and I went again on the oven and uh, I laid down. About an hour later there was a whole caravan of um, horses and buggies and also tanks. So they, they told them to stop and they dispersed them, each, each um, horse and buggy to a different house. And one--and a group of Germans with a horse and buggy came in to this house. And they came in, in and with a rifle and they saw me. And they, they said to me--one thing subconsciously um, I knew that I can--I don't understand German. I understood, but I can't understand German. So they asked me, "Who are you?" And I said in Polish, "I am, I am Polish. I am Polish." And what--and I said, "See, I'm sick." I spoke Polish and I said to them, "I'm sick." So they said, "Okay. Come down, come down." And they saw some hay. And they said, "There were partisans here?" And I said, "I don't know anything." They told me to clean the house and they said, this is where they're going to stay for the night. I should prepare--we'll start preparing some food. And they started--tried to start making a fire. And one German calls me and said, "You come and show me where you hid your silver." I said, I, I said, "I don't understand. What are you talking about?" He started getting real angry. And he said, "You know. You come here. Don't tell me..." in German. He says, "You come and show me." And if it would have lasted another five minutes, he would have shot me, he was so angry. But all of a sudden they got an order, they have to move. So they moved. And they--the caravan was going--they had to accommodate more, more uh, um, groups of Germans you know, into the houses. And, and I went back on the oven. And about a half an hour later, the same, the same thing happened. They came, they came into the house with the rifle and started asking me. Then they said, "You come down and, and we're going to have our dinner here." So I made a fire and they took out eggs and they had hard cheeses and they had salami and they had bread. And I made um, scrambled eggs for them. And uh, I cooked some water and they had some tea with them. And they, they sat down to eat. So they asked me if I would join them at the table. Yeah, I joined them. And they gave me everything, whatever they had. And the conversation between them went on, like one asked the other, "Who do you think she is? What, what nationality is she?"

Did you understood German?

Yes, I do. I lived in Germany for...

Did they know that you understood?

No, no, no.

So you didn't tell them?

No. I, I understood what they were talking. But you see, my brain wasn't working, but it was working enough to, to know that I cannot understand German. You understand? Anyway, so they said uh, so they shrugged their shoulders and they said, "I don't know--we don't know." I mean--so then they finished eating. And they said to me--they showed me in sign language that you can't sleep here. They're going to sleep there and you can't. So two soldiers, one with a rifle in front of me, one with a rifle in the back of me and I think they told me to come, to go with them. And I think to myself, oh, I bet they're going to shoot me. That's what I--that's the way I thought. And they took me to a...another empty house and they said, "That's where you're going to stay." I--at that point I became--I w...was very frightened. But they left the house and I didn't even close the door. And I went back on the oven. And that night was--they, they were constantly shooting. The Germans were constantly shooting because they were afraid of the, of the, of the partisans that were around. They also had to land some airplanes because some of their um, um, soldiers were killed, when they were--the mines exploded on the roads. So they had to land airplanes to take them or small planes, you know, to take them back. And they had the--they were shooting flares, you know, to light up the area. And it was terribly noisy. And with that noise, I fell asleep. I fell asleep. And I--when I opened my eyes, there was a complete quiet. I walked out of the house and I went into the house where they had dinner and I found a toothbrush and I found a piece of bread and some salt. So I put the salt and the toothbrush in my pocket and also matches. And I put that in my pocket. I had a premonition that I'll be able to use them. And I'm walking around, there is nobody. The, the village is completely empty. There were cats and dogs and chickens and cows and, and everything was roaming in the streets, but no people. What happened, this was the regular army. This was the Wehrmacht. They came into the village and they were chasing, they were chasing the partisans, but as they were moving along, they, they, they encountered the inhabitants of the village who were hiding in the forest and they asked them, "Why are you hiding?" I mean, "We're not after you. You should go back to your uh, homes. We are not, we are not here to kill you. We are chasing the partisans." So they started coming into the village. And I'm sitting in the house and here comes in the, the lady of the house. And she's, she crossed herself. She said, "What are--who are you, what,"--I, I was known in that village. There was a--they called me, they called me the crazy Jewess, you know. That--"Oh, the crazy Jewess, what are you doing here?" So I said, "Here I am." So she ran out to the neighbors. And they all came looking like it ah, it's something that is, it's a miracle. There in that, that night, there were about five older women sick and one man, they killed them all, that left, that were left in the village.

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