Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001

Liquidation of Ghetto

Tell me more about what you saw during the liquidation. You were in your, your apartment.

That's correct.

And what's the first thing that happened?

In many cases, they were going from house to house. And you've seen people being--I didn't see that in the homes, but when they are putting out of the homes older people who didn't want to go, or, or, they're afraid to go or couldn't go, and they were, and they were pulling these people out eh, of the homes and eh, there was cries on the street, they, they were taking them somewhere. Beating the, the heck, beating the heck out of them. Eh, it was like a murderous day, murderous. Free for all, free for all! I mean, we had Germans every hundred feet, there was a German, there was Germans all over. No one could move.

They were coming down the street, I presume. One, one house at a time. Is that...

They were--I cannot, I cannot say what I didn't witness because I was at home.

So what were doing when you knew this was happening, were you inside with your parents?

I was, I was, I was hidden downstairs with, with my brother. And my mother was a young woman, so was my father. So they, they were not going after them, 'cause. And my father with a little help from uh, from someone, maybe from his, his brother who was a policeman. Uh, he was advised to take it at night when there would be, when it would be very, very dark and things would be maybe a little bit easier. And as I read different books, we were not the only ones who survived going on in the evening later on. It began to rain a little bit, so it, it was easier. A lot of children survived eh, survived going at night, not necessarily the, the young children were two, three, four five years old, they were easily carried on the back in a knapsack. Nobody knew there's a child there. So a lot of people, children got into a concentration camp not by virtue of anybody knowing that the child is being carried out. But the children were easily carried in a knapsack, like you carry clothing or whatever.

Why do you think they were targeting children?

I, I made a point before, but I didn't finish it. I, I'll tell you. People ask the question, why didn't we fight. It was, it was incompre...incomprehensible, incomprehensible to, to think that they want to kill us all. It was totally incom...why should they kill us? I mean, we work in their factories, they didn't pay us, they didn't give us any food. They were at, at war, they needed, they needed the labor, they needed the labor. So why should they kill us? It just didn't cross our mind until it was too late. So the same question right over here. The question was?

Why, why children?

Why children? Children, what they were trying which we didn't realize their, their goal was to, to destroy all Jews totally, one-hundred percent. They didn't want the children to grow up. Actually there was a law against uh, having children. I forgot, I forgot million things. There was a law against having children and a woman having children had to be very careful not, for anyone not to know that they have a child. Or else they would be finished together with the child. So, so we didn't think, once again, we, we didn't think why they should kill children. Why? I mean, the children didn't do them any harm. So, so it didn't cross our mind that, that they're going to kill children. It was eh, it was unbelievable when they did. Today people--you see, when I came to the United States, 1947, December. I came with some friends, we came on the same boat. And we went to visit one of the fellows that I came with, his family. And we--one of--we were sitting there together with three of us and his family members, which he never met before, and the question was, so how was it in the camp? Or, how did you do? So my friend began to describe the situation. And these, that family of his, Americans--I, I was totally ashamed. I, I, I, I could see that they think that he is a total idiot or he's talking nonsense. They, they couldn't, it wouldn't go through their mind, they couldn't, they couldn't believe it. And you know, and at that time--so, so eh, I, I realized that, but. That no one believes it. And after awhile he realized it because they, they cut it short. We finally all realized because the first twenty, twenty-five years in the United States no one talked about it. Because it was unbelievable, uncomprehensible, incomprehensible even after the war. That's why no one talked about these terrible times. Eh, we among ourselves, the we who by we, I say the people who survived. Among, in our group, we could talk about it, but never in a serious note. We always kibitzed about it. We eh, made jokes about it. What we look like, or eh, we doing it like as if it would be somewhere--but we, never in a serious, never seriously. So, because it, it was still too heavy for ourselves to understand. So that's why no one in the United States or in the world spoke about this time for the twenty-five years. 'Til later on eh, some movies came out. I don't remember, it was the first movie on the subject of war. Uh, and then Schindler's List came out. And after that a lot of people began to talk more about it. It was more acceptable to discuss it further. And to go a little deeper into it.

Do you remember the movie Holocaust, it was on television?

I, I don't remember. If you, I don't remember, I, I'm, I'm sure I've seen it.

It was 1978. Five nights.


Five parts.

That's correct. I remember it now. That was probably the start. When people allowed themselves to begin to talk about it a little bit more. And uh, I think, I think this is just about the time that the Holocaust survivors formed uh, uh, formed a, a what would you say a gathering. They got together and they had their first gathering of the Holocaust survivors uh, here in the United States and then they uh, had a few of these Holocaust survivors meetings.


1983. It was very, very close after that. And uh, they...a...another uh, some other people who were hidden in Poland, who were hidden, who uh, and they just very lately formed eh, formed organization. Especially for the ones that, for the hidden children eh, that were hidden by the Christians during the war. Eh, they just started lately to, uh...

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