Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lily Fenster - November 8 & 10, 1994


The following is an interview conducted with Mrs. Lilly Fenster at her home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan on the morning of November 8, 1994. The interviewer is Sydney Bolkosky.

Tell me your name, your maiden name, too.

Okay, my name is--should I start?


My name is Lilly Fenster. My maiden name was Lubaskurka. I was born in Poland. Do you want to know the year? 1926.

I want to know where?

In Poland, Warsaw.

War...in Warsaw?

In Warsaw. Yeah. All my years was in Warsaw. We weren't a wealthy family. I had four sisters, myself, we were five. We had a grandma living with us. We had one room and we all were together. I remember sleeping with my grandma in a iron bed. It was before the war, because my father was selling shoes. We weren't wealthy. But it was a lot of happiness in that family. We had aunts. We had uncles. They came together. There was holidays. We--sometime I was hungry, I remember being hungry, but nobody knew, because in Poland it was a schanda if you, you know, God forbid if you didn't have what everybody else, but we managed okay 'til the war came, 1939.

Tell me, was your family religious?

My grandfather was religious. He was a learner, not my daddy . That was a disgrace to him, because in Europe, everybody has to be religious. You know the Jews in Europe. So, my father didn't wear a hat. That wasn't right. He smoked a cigarette and to my grandfather's standards, it was not right. I remember my grandpop. I don't remember my grandma from my father's side, but I remember my grandfather and my mother had a mother. She died in 1939 when Germany came to Poland and uh, she was very dear to me. She was my best friend, like I say. She--I just loved to sleep with her, because she was a beautiful, nice Jewish woman. Uh, what else could I tell you from my youth? Ask me something.

Your family, did they keep kosher? Your mother keep...

Oh of course. Definitely, who didn't keep kosher in Europe. We didn't know any other way. I tell you another story. I don't know if you jump to it. When I ran away from the ghetto and I was pretty hungry, you know. Was--I didn't see bread for a year an a half. I was staying in the lines. And the minute I come to the line, it was closed. They were out of bread. I was staying for forty-eight hours. I fainted three times. I don't know where God gave me strength to survive it. That was our mission when we were in the ghetto, a piece of bread. My little sisters died with that name, "Give me a shtikeleh broit."

[interruption in interview]

Ah, the kosher was a must. Who didn't keep kosher and I tell you a little story once. I had a very rich girlfriend. But she wasn't so bright in school. Beishtoff was her name. The father was a furrier And in Europe, that is a big deal. Certain things, if you don't like, you can erase, right, no problem. And she make me trades traif. "Vos hot zee mir gemacht traif?" She took a piece of, I think, Gentile sausage and she put some whip cream on it. Double traif and she gave me and I was so hungry then, because she was in a luxury. You know what, when I was a little girl, I envied people that they had richness. That they had a lot of food on the table. They were dressed, because my grandma use to always put patches on mine, elbows you know, when I went to school, I had six grades and she couldn't, they could not afford to buy me something new, so we put patches on it and it always came off sometime and I felt very embarrassed about it. You know, when it came to clothes and that rich girl, she made me traif.

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