Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joshua Fishman - July 13, 1982

Life in the Ghetto

Wait, wait. They beat who up?

The, the ten Jewish men who they took first. They took ten men at a, at a time.

I see.

Uh, then uh, the, when they called, when they called my father, he was uh, third night they called him in. So he got ready. Uh, he put on uh, a lot of clothes. It was wintertime then anyway. Uh, so if they're going to hit him he shouldn't feel the, you know. Uh, so these, these men I told you survived. Um, the one from the enforcement for the Judenrat, when he saw my father pass by, and my, my father--my mother was going uh, to, to the way with him until uh, he's going to go away--until they're going to take him. So he said to, to my--he was laughing at my father. "Oo oo oo," he says, "you are so thick." He showed him with his arms how, how thick he is. He, he was ready to get, he was ready to, to get some--to get hit, you know. Uh, but it just happened every, every night uh, every succeeding night they, they were a little more lenient because they gave them so many goodies, they bribed them--the Germans--and uh, my father was also hit but not as bad. Uh, they used to tell them to crawl on the floor and uh, sing zemirot and everything, you know, to laugh at them, to make uh, like, make them feel like animals. Now uh, when they make the ghetto at the end of the winter uh, I was working at that time at the barges. Uh, the barges it was uh, steady there. It was--I, myself uh, I felt better to work a steady place than to go everyday a different place 'cause uh, sometimes I work at, to, to pull out the logs from the river then I went to work at the barges. And uh, the--those uh, uh, those who were in this straight or building barges, the, the--they were Belarussians from ??? they took them, they took them from there. Uh, because uh, at the ri...there was a little port in, at the river and uh, a lot of people who knew this straight. There were also, of course, the anti-Semites. One of them said about the ghetto--that was his comment about the ghetto, "And now they squeeze down your head. And next thi...next thing they're going to do, they're going to chop it off." That what his comment. And uh, it didn't take long uh, from, I think it took uh, s...five months or so and that's what happened. Uh, the Holocaust started. They called up before the Holocaust. They called uh, the Jewish people the--to--they said--the Germans said they have to count all the Jewish people. Uh, so the Judenrat arranged it and we went a hundred at a time and they came to a, to a place right near the city that's uh, right uh, outside of the city near a school. It was--it happened to be the school where I learned a couple years. And they called everybody by name. Called them to the a, b, c, and they let 'em go back. So, that was a kind of uh, practice for them, for the Germans. Next time uh, it was uh, uh, a month later, they called them out the same way. They said, "We're going to see if uh, everybody's here. If somebody will be missing, we're going to kill everybody." That's what the German said. So uh, we our family we did not uh, go. But they took everybody else. Uh, they went--they took them to the railroad station. On the way, they already noticed uh, what's going to happen. Some of uh, but some of them couldn't believe them...themselves that this was going to happen. They uh, on the b...it happened when they were on the bridge over the, over--going over the river to this railroad station. This uh, one, one Jewish man uh, his name was uh, ??? a baker, he was a baker, ???. He said, "Let's take..." there was a couple Germans and a few policemen. "We are so many people here, let's take them and throw them into the river and escape. They are going--they're, they're taking us to kill us." So another, another Jew there grabbed him from behind and he said, "You gazlen, you! You're, you're, you uh, uh gazlen." You know what a gazlen is, but I--you say it in English. You know what a gazlen is.

No I don't.

No uh, gazlen is somebody who makes armed robbery is a gazlen.

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