Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998


Home? Your family?

The people that you know.


So I cross that area and there were no Jews, but there was a group of farmers. They were organized. They had their horses and their buggies. They had their uh, uh, f...fur coats--I mean skin...sheepskin coats. They had hay. They had their pillows. They had, they had their food, dried food, nevertheless food. And, and they were probably about, I would say, ten families, with their children, with everybody. So I decided I'm going to tell the truth. So they said, "Okay, listen, don't worry about it. You come." They gave me something to eat. "And whatever will happen to us will happen to you." So I said, "Okay." They were uh, very nicely organized. They knew the area. They were the, they were the, they were the Polish swamp, swamps. They knew the area, that if they'll go in into the thick of the swamps, the, the Germans will not dare to get there. So they had scouts in all four directions. And they were watching in which directions the arm...the German army is going. Okay. So the next day, they started beating me up. They started beating me up. They started cursing me. They started telling me that I'm a spy, that because of the Jews the war started. And, and I said to them, "You know what? If you want to kill me, I'm in your hands. But I'm not leaving this area. I'm staying with you." But we stayed ten days, no fire. They couldn't make a fire because, you know, smoke you can, you can feel from far or, or in the--during the night, you can see the fire. So I was sleeping on the--by the, by the buggies. When I got up, I had so much snow on me that my feet froze completely. I couldn't stand up my legs. And after ten days, somehow the shooting started. While we were hiding, while we were sitting, the shooting was going on all over.

Were these partisans?

No, these were local people.

They were local.

Local population. So they decided, now that the shooting stopped, they're going to look into--they're going to see what's happening in their homes, you know. So they, they, they went to see. They found their homes burned out. But in that village, they, the, the, uh, they had taken in a group of people into the church. They gave them some candy, they should come into the church and then they took them outside and they lined them up and they shot them. So they found a line of people lying dead. Among these dead were two wounded women that were not completely--that didn't uh, uh, that were not completely killed. So they took the--these two women and they brought them into that forest. And they said to me, "You know what? Since you're not well, why don't we put you in a, in a, in a hut, in some sort of a hut in the forest and you'll take care--you'll be with these women and we'll bring you some food. And that's, that's how, that's how you'll be able to exist. We don't know what's going to happen." So I said, "Okay, fine." At that point, I couldn't walk anymore. So they brought me with these two women. One was very, was very heavily wounded. And that first night, she died. So they came, they came, they took her. They came to find out what's happening and they found out that she died, so they took her away. And they brought me some--a little bit of soup. And I remained with the other woman. The other woman was only wounded in her leg. And she also thought that they--the Russians are coming again to occupy there. So she said to me, "You know, my nephew will find out where I am. And that--this is when I'll take you to my house and you'll stay with me. You'll help me up--out in the farm, the farm." Fine. Maybe two days we stayed together. And her nephew came. The minute he stuck his head in she says, "Look at the dirty Jew. I don't need her." Right away, off the bat. He said, "Mom or Aunt," or whatever he called her. You said to her--she says, "I don't want no part of her. It's because of them that we're suffering like this."

Let me ask you a question. You said the other woman died.


What did you feel when she died?

I was happy, because I, I thought maybe I'll inherit her, her blanket. But they wouldn't give it to me, either. I was surround...I was surrounded with death. How did I feel? She was out of her misery. Do you know, at that point, I was hoping that I wouldn't get up the next morning, because I had terrible leg pains. I was praying to God, Why did you forsake me? I don't want to live. I was hoping that--I was--I knew stories that they used to say some people froze in the woods. And I didn't freeze. I thought maybe I'll freeze during the night.

You're still with this other woman, though.

Yes, I'm with her. Okay. He came and he claimed and he took her away.

So now what, now you're alone?

Now I'm alone, yes. Okay. And I, I, I had uh, I stole some flour from the, from the caravan of people with whom I was and I put it in my pocket. I had matches. So I made myself a fire that was a, a little um, they dug a little hole and there was some water. And the water was brown like coffee. But I, I uh, I found a broken little pot around there. So I took the cold water and I mixed the flour and I, and I ate it. And, and I was sitting there a day or so. And all of a sudden, a farmer passed by. And he looked in and he and he said, "Oh, my God, you're here alone." He said, "You know, not far from you, from here, there are Jews that are hiding." I said, "Oh, my God, maybe you should tell them they should come and get me. I would be so happy. I, I, I don't want to be here but..." he said, "Okay, I'll do that. But meanwhile, not far from here there are burned out homes. Why don't you go? They come out and they, they take the potatoes and the vegetables from the cellar. You come out, try to come out to that house." I was practically crawling on all my four and I crawled out to that house.

Your feet were still frozen.

Yes, my feet were still frozen. And uh, uh, I came out to that house. And the house was uh, burned. There was a cellar. There were potatoes, there were some beets there. And I uh, found two--a chicken--two chickens. They uh, drowned in the um, what do you call where they um, where they dig, where they dig water out in the, in the well. They, they drowned. They drowned in the well. I took them and I took a uh, uh schmata that I found, a piece of rag and I put some potatoes under both chickens. And I found a pot. And I crawled back to my bunker. And I came back and I, I uh, uh, cut up the chickens. And I had a pot and I cooked myself chicken soup. And I thought, well, it can't be any--well, anyway, uh...

Did he bring the other--the Jews back?

The--anyways, he a...a...a...about--I would say about a week passed by, nobody came. Finally, he uh, one time--at one point, he brought them. He brought them to my--to the bunker. And they were--they, they took me with them. They were about seven males, a father and two sons and another father and two sons, so six and another and another two. There were nine and I was the tenth one. So I stayed. I--that was already March. It started getting warmer outside. And there were an awful lot of cows and horses lying dead in the forest. So we used to go and cut pieces of meat and bring it into the hut. And uh, um, and, and...

Horsemeat too?

Horsemeat and cow meat and uh, potatoes. We, we got potatoes from the cellars from the burned out houses. And um, it started getting warmer. The, the farmers came back to their homes. And uh, uh, so when--in April and May, they started working in, in their fields. So we hired ourselves out just for food. We used to go--that area was already uh, German-free. The Germans wouldn't come into that area, although it was still under the German occupation.

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