Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001

Searching for Mother

You went to Sopot.

I went to Sopot. I spent three days over there. As long as a day's long. Ci...from city hall to every possible place where eh, where someone could be, eh. I went through every list of everyone that came in to Sopot, because there were lists. There lists of people, who looking for who, who came in, eh. Disappointedly I went back. I decided I have to go back to Krakow. I couldn't find my mother over there. The train that was going to Krakow was totally overloaded once again. I found a spot on the walkway outside the train. That, that particular spot nobody else wanted to take because the, the board was broken. But I was--I didn't realize the distance, the time. You don't know when you, you're young, you never been on a train long hours. You don't know how the things will affect you. Anyhow the priorities were to get there. People were--all the boards were taken by people, but that spot was a weak spot. But I was--I didn't weigh too much at that time. I stepped on it, I felt I can manage. And uh, went to uh, we went at first to Czestohowa, that's the way that the train was going, eh. I would not know where were we going, but I know where we stopped. And all I can say, that it begin to rain at one time. It was night. It begin to rain, it was raining terribly. And that ride over there, my, my hands were eh, eh, I was not as strong yet. And my hands were getting uh, stiff from the rain uh, from, from being outside and from holding on to the window, to this particular eh, on the door, the doorway. Uh, and you know, we got to Czestochowa I still had my suitcase with me, which was not full anymore. 'Cause as you go along you, you give it away for bread, etc. I remember they had Red Cross place, and uh, I went to the Red Cross right at the, at the station and I have some, some soup. It was eh, I, I, I, I remember it so well because it tasted eh, eh, it, it was so wonderful to h...to have something to eat. Eh, people were eh, all over the station, it was so full with people. And everyone was looking for, for friends and family. And there was a word amhul, when you did not know if the fellow was Jewish or not and you wanted to ask questions or, you used the word amhul. And that person, if it was Jewish instantly replied. So each one exchanged eh, exchanged knowledge. Where you going, where you coming from, what's happening, do you know this particular party. Eh, everyone was eager to find their family. People were looking for their families. Uh, anyhow, I, I got back on the train from Czestochowa to Krakow. It was raining terribly. All I can say that eh, when I came to Krakow, I, I went to the bathroom. I took an hour or two to wash my pants and everything else, because there was no place for me to stop during the, during the time that I was eh, on the, on the, on the board over there. And eh, I couldn't hold it ten, twelve hours, whatever it was. Uh, so, I cleaned my pants up, washed it up. And I went to eh, where my grandfather lived before the war, Wolnice 3. My uncle Wiener was over there. Sam Wiener. And he told me that my mother just few hours ago just came, came to Krakow and she is someplace in Podgorze. And of course right away he took me, he took me there and we went together to look for my mother. I was in Podgorze, but I remember, as we enter, as we enter this particular building and then we knock on the door--Sam Wiener knocked on the door and uh, asked Ruja to open the door. He didn't tell her, tell her that I am over here. And she says, "Wait a minute, I'm washing my hair." And eh, we waited for a few moments. Then my mother opened the door. [pause] Sam let me go in first. Express some words Ruja, I brought you your sons, in Polish. And my mother went wild. So did I. She grabbed me by my hair, by my h...She, she was absolutely going crazy with happiness. And hugs and kisses, unbelief. Not believing that I'm, that I'm there. [pause] It was a beautiful reunion. Eh, and yes, I found out then that we're going to be going back, back to eh, Sopot because the only place that I've missed in Sopot is the Russian or the Polish Army barracks. My uncle being in the Russian Army, Polish Russian Army was in barracks over there and my mother was with him. And being that her brother was in Sopot we, even though some other members of the family lived in Krakow, we moved to Sopot. It was the only surviving brother of my mother's, eh. So the next few months in Poland we lived in Sopot. Together with uh, my mother's sister who survived, as I stated originally, and my mother's brother who survived in Russia. He was, he was in the Polish Russian Army. I'll tell you a little bit about Sopot. They had special schools over there for people that want to go to eh, schools which are a little speedier than regular schools because I didn't go to school for six years. In Sopot though eh, the school that I went to was all Catholic school. Nobody knew I was Jewish. Uh, there was, we were taught by priests and uh, went uh, religion Christian, of course Christian religion. Eh, I did very well in all subjects. I had private tutors at home. My mother from day one wanted me to take private tutors. Every cigarette, everything we ever got from eh, from the Army or from, from anyone was spent on, on, on really on my education. Eh, I did very well over there.

Did you learn catechism too?

Some, not much. That was only one, one semester. The problem was that first of all we, we heard from Germany that our family is in Tirschenreuth in a camp over there and we should move to Germany. It was not easy to move to Germany because you had to go through different borders. But we were preparing to go sooner or later to run away. You were not, you were not allowed to go eh, lawfully. It had to be done underground. My problem, which expediated the problem of ours, ours go...ours, our going to, to, to Germany was the fact that I was supposed to--all the kids in that school supposed to go through certain type of eh, catechism. I don't remember what. What's the thing when you're a certain age and you supposed to go through? Supposed to go to church and eh, be blessed by the, by the, by the priest and they go through the whole ceremony.

That's Confirmation.

Some kind of a confirmation.

It's like a bar mitzvah.

And I didn't want to go through this confirmation. So the priest was teaching religion, teaching us religion. I told him the truth. I told him I'm a Jewish guy. And I don't want anyone to know that I'm Jewish. It became a new problem. He walked me home everyday trying to transform me into a Christian. Instead of trying to be helpful. I, I, I did ask him a favor to keep quiet and ask him--he did keep quiet, but everyday on the way home he was convincing me into the Christian religion and to go to the church and eh, I knew that he's not going to help me in any way. And I knew the kids would find out that I'm not Jewish eh, over there, eh. It, it was a possible danger, that I could be in danger again.

If they found out you were Jewish.

If I--that's right. There was no other Jewish people around there, no Jewish kids in school. You see, I, I, I'd like to mention something on behalf of the Polish people. [pause] You cannot blame all these people for what they thought. They cannot, you cannot blame them for pointing out every Jew. I'll tell you a story later, different one. Because you see, the fault is really with the religion, with the Christian religion. Even though Christian religion is moral religion, they have the same background as, as our Jewish religion. But these children, these people in all these millions of villages were told that Jesus Christ was killed by a Jew. They were told Passover, keep their your children away because the Jewish people need blood for matzos. They were made to believe these things and they had no other point of view. They were bred, they were, when they were first born and throughout their lives they were told, taught, taught hatred. So you cannot blame the people directly, they didn't know any better. Anyhow, I, I knew that, that there is a danger if they find out I'm Jewish. And we ran away to uh, to Germany.

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