Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Benjamin Fisk - November 8, 1982

Life in German-Occupied Sosnowiec

Um, can you tell me how life changed in Sosnowiec--in a lot of ways after the Germans came. Can you tell me, um...

In Sosnowiec, there was hangings and shootings and killings, any kind of way, you know?

Wife: ???

You know?

Did, did younger children--were they still allowed to go to school?

Nobody went to school after the Germans came. That was it. They didn't like people with education, you know. Not only the Jews, they didn't like the Gentile people with education either but, you know, they were killing people with education. They ??? the average guy who couldn't write and read. Who, who could organize the people? The people with some brains, you know. With those brains you're no good. And on top of it, they learned from the Russians when you're hungry, your mind works in one way, you know, something to eat. See, this what the Germans did, you know.

How did you get food?

Well, we had uh, gold, we had pearls, we were selling off everything, you know, yeah. Every now and then mother used to take out something and sell it, you know, to the Polish people to get food. She used to buy flour, potatoes, you know, especially ??? some lettuce. In summertime, you know, we used to--the Germans used to give us a piece of land, you know, we used to have a little garden and plant uh, you know, tomatoes and all kind of stuff, carrots, and potatoes. But in the winter time things were bad, you know.

Was food rationed?

Well, they didn't give you much. What the Germans give you, you couldn't live on. You know, you had to have something, you know, to supplement it, you know, like they say here. Just like over here, you know, what the government gave you on Welfare, you can't live on it, you know, unless uh, unless you can do it on air, you know. But that's how you manage I guess, you know, you could manage all kinds. When we came to America ??? I didn't go to nobody. We came to the ??? and we lived with whatever we slept on the floor for three weeks. The last time ??? I had left over from Oklahoma what I saved up, you know, from making $4.50, $45 a week and gave to a colored lady, you know, to let us in to an apartment. You know, but if you had children they wouldn't let you in no place, you know. So we slept three weeks on the floor--on a piece of rug the floor but I didn't go to nobody, didn't go nobody could give me nothing. Whatever I had I made with my ten fingers on this hand, you know.

How long did you stay in Sosnowiec?

Well, we stayed as long as we could and then we had to go to the ghetto, you know. The ghetto was Srodula, like maybe fifty kilometers out of town. They said to take all the Jews out of Sosnowiec and from all the little towns around and bunched them up in the ghetto.

What was the ghetto, what was the name?

Was Srodula.

Can you spell that for me?

Sure, I'll write it down.

Wife: ???

Srodula. Just like you say it, just the way you write it down in Polish, see? You write it down the same... [interruption in interview]

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