Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lily Fenster - November 8 & 10, 1994

Memories of Łuków

...so many things, so many things that I don't even remember when you talk. You just talk things that jumps into your mind, as you know how the mind work, you know. It's not a continuation that day I will see it. Who knew? I didn't have a calendar. I didn't know the time. When I was on the farm, I see the time with the sun. They taught me how to do it. Twelve o'clock, you had to go with the cows to, to put them at rest and also you know, I used to ride horses without saddles. Six of them. Would you believe that? To take them on the fields to graze, how you say it, to eat.


Graze, so and I was like a, I was so, like a boy, just don't touch me, I will kill--I was so afraid of them. Because I had so much incident, they grabbed me, you know men.


So what did they want from me. What is it? I was so scared from that. My only scariness and it was, you are alone. You all alone, surviving such a dark ages. And what did I want? I want to live. Dear God. What did I do wrong? I want to live. I want to live like anybody else and coming back from that time when they killed my mother you know, when she didn't have time to eat up the bread and the potatoes that I brought her and I exchanged a piece of pork sausage, pork uh, bacon for a little butter. She shared everything with my little aunt. I had an aunt. You know they came they some smuggled out. Money we didn't got. We didn't have no money to pay, they should do something for it. I don't remember jewelry in the house. You know what I remember? A silver candelabra and my mother sold it in the ghetto that she should buy food for the children. That was our possession.

You told me after the war, you saw a young man who came out of the woods?

With the son, he was shot together, oh that poem, yeah, that boy, I don't know from where he was.

Where, where were you when this happened?

When he runned from the woods. When I came back to the Jews already. It was then that little shtetl in ??? in Łuków--that was a couple bombed out places. What could the Jews get? What would they give the Jews? So whoever grabbed and we all wanted to be together. I don't know what, the people that went out from in the camps, like the lady what she told me, she choked her child and that's not a repeat. I remember ???. I remember what she wore that time. She had boots and she wore a little uh, the Poles have those little bitty jackets you know, like embroidered and fun letters, sort of a sheepskin something, you know. I remember she had dark hair, straight down and a round face and she looked like a real partisan. ??? ??? I think they moved to New York, but I didn't you know, after the war, everybody is in different ways, everybody goes different places. I never seen her again. But she was sitting. Everybody told stories, like my husband told a story. They were very hungry. One of the hottest day in Europe. It was like June or July or August, I don't...and they stole eggs. Not everybody could eat a raw egg. They put it in the sun and the egg boiled and that's what they ate. They were lucky that the corn was tall. They didn't take it off. Had they took the corn off the fields, they didn't have no place to hide. That's the story.

And this, and this young man came out of the...

This young man was surrounded with them. We were sitting and talking, "Vee host du ibergelebt? How did you survive?" He looked at me and says, "Oh you look like a shikseh, you probably was a shikseh." I don't know his name. And then he was singing that song or writing that song and I remember it so you know, again you know, he looked sick. I think he was sick. He had with the stomach to do and he was maybe fourteen years old. I was older than--he was a baby when he went to this--maybe sixteen the most and he says that he belonged from around Łuków the outskirts, there were little derfelech, little shtetl little farms. There were three Jews, there were four Jews. They used to live from the farm look, like my husband was on a farm. It was a wealthy farm, they had maybe, I don't know exactly how many Jewish families. They had a shtieble to pray, then we came back to Poland to see it, all the places where the Jews were, were boarded up like it happened yesterday. They didn't improve Łuków, nothing. It looked like a ghost town, because I remember, he and my aunt used to live here was Jewish people and they were running, they were playing. Even when I run out, from the ghetto in Warsaw, they were free. But, it took maybe a half a year, maybe '42, maybe a little bit more than '42, they start already killing out those Jews. They didn't miss a trick. If the war would have last another month, I would probably survive, because I was a shikseh and I was staying in the church, not in the church, in the hospital with the nuns and I would live on like that, but the rest of the people, while they waited for the camp to liberated, they wouldn't live, because oh, I remember also, when they stopped hiding by the water, Praga, Warsaw, so a lot of people, I don't know from which side they used to come--camps, masses of masses of women, no hair and those striped suits and like that you know, and everybody helped them the way they could. A lot of them were very sick and I don't know that time what happened. Whether Russia took 'em to hospitals, what they did to those people and that was, I remember, it was--Hungary from Hungary they came, because they--Hungary people I understand, had the latest camps. I mean not so early like Warsaw, Poland, '39 right away, they came in...


Yeah and then '39, they came in at the end of '39, we were in ghettos. No luck. What is today, the eleventh of, yeah, today was a holiday for Polish people. It's Armistice Day, what is today?

Armistice Day.

The eleventh something and there the Poles used to go always to the graves and put yellow flowers on the graves and that time we've seen and they killed the, the Priest ???. Oh what a nice man he was. And we just took it like that and I remember he wore that, I don't know what you call it. I don't know the clergy name. And he gave him and we hide it, because maybe it would be ready to shoot us too. You hide it. We sneaked out with that girl, Latke, you know, what she was such a good anti-Semite and uh, we cried all day, because it happened. I used to go to his church. Happened, he did help Jews and they killed him. And you know who tattle tailed on him, I understand, is his cook. That's was rumors in the city, you know.

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