Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lily Fenster - November 8 & 10, 1994


Okopowa that's a street.

What, what's, what's the district in Warsaw, do you know?

District ??? I don't even know what mean a district. It was in the lower pla...in the lower--a little bit higher before the war, but then, when the Germans came in, they threw us out in that area and they put us on the Gesia Hundert Eins. H...hundred and one. Not far from a cemetery. They put us in a basement. There were seven of us. Five kids, father, mother, grandma. And one particular corner I remember, the water was dripping. So, it was the pail and it kept plop, plop, plop. They didn't fix it, you know? And the ghetto was, it was bad right away it was hunger. Should I tell you about the bombs, too? You want to know about that?

Sure, we'll have to....

??? because it's so much. I mean, I'm not a professional. I try to put it in ???, but that's going to be you job, to put it, right? You know, so, I remember 1939, or what was ??? May, June, July, August. I think it was September and was the war started, September the first. Three weeks it took. The bombs were unbelievable. And we were running. Everybody was running and hiding. There was no food. It was a pickle factory, I remember. Everybody grabbed those pickles and they all got dysentery. They got sick from it, because they sour, like sour in the stomach. And that went on for three weeks. Then the German came on the 27th, before it was cease fire. I run out, because my grandma needed a little bit of water and I got injured. I got a piece of shrapnel right in my hip and I fell and I couldn't move and they took me to a hospital and I was laying for three months there. They couldn't do nothing. After I came to America after so many years, basically I was pretty healthy. I came to America and they found still a piece of metal, is it, or steel right almost to my bone. It was big as a nail. After so many years, they took it out and that, my grandma felt very bad about it, because she needed the water and I was running and after that, she died. So, when she died, I lost everything. And the time they came, it was very bad timing and the German came, right away, they start you know, like hit, not hitting, but right after the Jews, they took out inn...innocent people and shot and killed in front of everybody.

Did you see them shot?

Yes. I seen one because I was on that side. It was a German with two big dogs walking there in the ghetto. And first he took a Jew--when I went to Washington, I've seen that the religious Jew with the payes and he stands on the box and that is was now Ulica Zelazna. The iron street I mean Zelazna was in Polish and he says, "Shema yizroel, shema yisroel" and they picked his beard and then he took out--I didn't know what it was for. It was--I didn't see actually a gun. I've seen a--like the police, what do you call it? Uh, what you hit with it?


Whatever it is and he gave him over the head and he fell. I don't know if he got killed or not because I run away. Because whoever passed by they kept on shooting but that particular one, they took azoi vi a shtekna, he gave him over the head. And his white face, very young and he wear you know, the, the ??? the curl ???...


The payes, the payes hanging over him and he was all bleeding but I didn't know if he was dead or not. I was afraid to go and see because other people on run away too. It was a circumstance you just, you just were afraid for your own life. I didn't know if it was selfish, I didn't know if what was, but that was the situation there. And you go home and again hunger. You're looking in the garbage for a little something, for shells and potatoes. Hunger is the worst thing that a human being can experience. You're healthy and you're dying everyday a little bit. What else could I tell you sweetie?

How did you first find out about the war? On the radio or did you father come and tell you?

I didn't have a radio. We heard because I remember--oh you're interested before the war, the Rydz-Ṡmigly was the President of Poland, you remember that uh, you know. We had Pilsudski, was sort of good to the Jews as you know. Because Jews were suppose to save his life. You heard the story with the tallis so I don't have to repeat.

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