Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983

Sosnowiec Ghetto

Yeah. Um, now the ghetto was formed when--were you still at home when that happened?

No. Right after the people came from that Punkt, from that gathering on that sports place, a ghetto was formed and my parents were in that ghetto with my sisters. I had two sisters left at home at that time.

You had told me about uh, being--trying to leave with your parents, being on a train and your brother going back.


When did that happen? When was that?

This was in 1939 in September, the first days of September.

What happened? Did you get--you didn't get to leave?

We only--we went about--oh to the, to the next little town, which was Wolbrum, I think, something like that. And uh, we couldn't go back right away, though we wanted because the Germans were already in and we knew. Don't forget that the trains hardly moved. It took us days to, to come to a certain uh, place. And when we came there we had a man that we knew that used to bring sometimes to our store something. I wouldn't know at present what, really. My, my parents knew him somehow. And they took us in very graciously, really not only us but some other families and they didn't mind that we slept on floors and benches and wherever. My sister was with us with the baby and we couldn't go back because they were saying that on one of the bridges in Sławków that we have to pass coming home, the Germans were staying and throwing people in into the riv...river. So we stayed there a few days, but the, the living conditions were just unbearable. So we went back. Going back I remember with ropes I put on my shoulders the rope and attach it to the buggy because we're going through fields, we are walking. And my sister could not push the buggy. So I was puling like a horse the buggy. At one time--I can't believe it that this happened, but it did--we tried, we got a, a wagon like they used to bring bread in this wagon. Don't forget that at that time they didn't have so many cars in Poland. So in a covered wagon they used to bring bread, it had a door like, you know. So I remember that my sister put in the baby in that wagon and other women put in the babies because it was hard to carry them and hard to push the buggies. And we're going through the fields and at one time the wagon was going to fall. And do you believe that I was the first one to hold onto that wagon with these kids. It was a light one. And when we came...what I can tell you. Shortly before the war we had some people who knew my parents very well. And for some reason they had a lot of jewelry and they were afraid for some reason for the internal revenue and they were leaving on vacation so they, so they brought the jewelry to my parents to hide them while they were away. And when we evacuated, when the war broke out, we evacuated from our city, my mother and father did not take our jewelry, ours were buried in a basement, but they took their jewelry. My mother was wearing a wig and I remember with a little thing and she put some of the jewelry into that thing and she sewed it into our sleeves some of the jewelry. And this was also a reason why we were afraid to come home through that bridge. We were afraid in case that they start to look for something they would find the jewelry and they would kill us. But eventually we had no choice and we came back home with the jewelry. And I can swear that every piece of jewelry was given back to these people. As a matter of fact, and when we came back my father buried the jewelry in the basement too. Because these people, we didn't know if they are back or not and as a matter of fact they came back a few days later and my father returned all the jewelry.

When you were uh, you stayed in Sosnowiec then how long? When, when were you taken from Sosnowiec?

In 1942 from that uh, sport place.

From that sport place you were taken.


Now just before that um, your father's store was eventually reopened. Was he allowed to retain ownership of the store?

Yes, yes, yes. But you had to report constantly to the Jewish Gemeinde, you know. And uh, according to the uh, the rations that you were getting, you could not--you didn't get anything more or less. As much as you gave out, that's how much you took in.

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