Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983

Life After Liberation

When you went to your, to your apartment--to your home uh, did you talk to the people who were living there at all? Did you get any of your belongings back at all?

Oh no, everything was gone. I even know from my sister, like some--I know some people had our belongings, but I didn't care. I, I knew at that time that I won't stay in Poland. I wouldn't anymore, I couldn't, I couldn't for this reason, I wouldn't because of the communist I wouldn't and people were leaving Poland in, in big groups. And I knew that someday I will leave too, which I did after a short--I couldn't live anymore in Poland. There was nothing left. Only bad memories and hurt, heartache. I, I will go insane if I would have to stay in Poland, I would.

Do you know about how many people survived from your, from Sosnowiec, how many Jewish people survived?

I don't know, but Sosnowiec had a very big Jewish population and many young people did survive who were in camps, but of course the majority was killed.

How long did you stay there?

Only a few months, very short, a few months...

Where did you go?

Then uh, only one way--everybody was going back to Germany, I don't know why. To this day I'm thinking, "Why not to France? Some people did go, but uh, the majority went to Germany. I often wonder why, but of course I, I know why too. The ones that never came back to Poland, they knew already that their families are gone. There's a lot of people that never went back to Poland uh, had no other place to go, so they stood wherever they were, in the best case they went to a town. Uh, and uh, like I knew that my brother-in-law, my older sister's husband, is in Bergen-Belsen after the liberation. So where will I go, I will go to him, I know him. So I went to him. And uh, that's how we stayed there until we emigrated. It wasn't a easy life either, a life of nothing.

Were your sisters still with you? Did you all stay together?

Yes. And, and my nephew too. It was bad because we had to live only on what we were getting from the uh, UNRRA. I don't say uh, we, we did get quite a big help from the Jewish organizations here. Uh, my clothes consist of what was...

[interruption in interview]

...until 1949. And uh, we had to go to certain camps too, you know. Like Vandoft, this was a transit camp, then was a Bremenhaven, then we came here.

What were the camps like, the Displaced Persons camp that you were in? How were you treated there?

Well uh, actually good I would say. We were free people, we could go where we want, when we want and however. And uh, we were getting some uh, food, which was not the best, but we could live on it very well, I mean very well. It was nothing luxurious. Like I know my uncle used to send us food packages. And uh, assuming that I would want to buy something, so you exchange things. You gave food, you got things, you know. Uh, but it was uh, very temporary thing. We were very unpatient very, not you know that this is uh, not your place, that you have to move on and you had no idea where and when. And here we were four women without a man, with a child and uh, we couldn't report things that some people did already. Uh, here we heard from my uncle from the United States and here my sister was in a kibbutz--my younger sister--because there was a school and she was too young not to have schooling. Uh, she was very good in school. My other sister was uh, uh, from JOINT she was learning to be uh, some kind of dental technician, something like that. Uh, I was taking care with my older sister of the house and we tried to at least to make some money, not much, you know, so we can buy a bread besides what we get from, you know, because it wasn't enough. Uh, and uh, we were--I don't know how to express myself in English uh, but it was a very temporary life.

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