Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983

Fate of Family

Thank you. I, I want to go back a little bit. When you went back to your hometown, how did you, how did find out what happened to the rest of your family?

Well, we knew it, we knew it, we knew it already in the camp since we didn't get any mail. Uh, we heard already that--see, they make, they used to make rations, constantly like taking a certain part of people away. And they were continuing, and even when I was home I knew there is less and less and less. And that's why my father sent my sister to us, because he saw that the end is coming. They were--this I know from my sister. I wasn't anymore there. Uh, they would--like my older sister, the one who had the child uh, in the ghetto they had double ceilings, double walls, like my sister would have a little uh, double ceiling and she with her baby and with her husband would hide there when they were going around and taking people out. But it became so bad that even when my sister came I knew that the end is coming. And after we stopped getting uh, mail we knew what happened to these people. It, it was obvious by then. The only thing--see, I was hoping my father was so young. My father was fifty-years-old and I was sure that I will see him. Also I still thought maybe, maybe, maybe because see, my brother nobody saw buried and they took Jews to bury these people that were killed by the hand grenade in these fields. So I was hoping maybe by any chance my sister--my older--she was so young. Well, unfortunately, one of my sisters who was also in a camp and her son who was saved by; as much as I say about the Poles there were certain people, very few, that did hide out the Jewish children or Jewish peo...families. Very few, and among them was my nephew and a sister of mine. She lived through a concentration camp, but my nephew lived through the war with a Polish family. Today he has two doctor's degrees, he has one in physics and one in math and he's teaching in Lowell University in Boston.

I want to go back again to before the war when you were living in Sosnowiec. Um, you said your family owned a store.


What type of store was it? What did they...

It was like a different kind if I tell you a grocer you will picture a little store. For the, for the Polish circumstances uh, my husband, I mean my parents, were making a very good living because every summer they used to send us to camps and this is a different camp from here; you had to pay quite a bit of money. And my mother used to go separately because she used to take baths. Uh, uh, it was like we, we had in the store uh, fruits from even from the United States. I remember the Red Delicious apples that used to come in barrels, you know, packed each one in paper. We had this in the store, we had uh, prunes from uh, the United States. We had uh, oranges from Jaffa, from Israel. It was uh, a very, very nice store. And as far I remember uh, we, we did belong to the middle class. I would, I would describe it so. Not trying to, you know, to put myself above.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn