Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Gun - August 12, 1999

Conditions in Ghetto

What did you think? You're seven years old. You had to give up your house and you're living in very cramped quarters.

Very cramped quarters, with very little food.

What did you think? Do, do you remember what went through your mind? Did you talk to your brother?

Not really.

Did you talk to anybody in the family?

Yeah, I talked to everybody. But...

About this? Did you say, why are...

Yes, I did. Uh, the same reason that I--the same question that I asked why my friend uh, the Christian boy wasn't going with me. I also asked, "Why are they doing this? Why is this?" They, they told me, says, "That's what's happening to Jewish people right now." And we have to do what they say or else they might kill us.

Who said that?

My parents.

Your parents, they might kill us, they said that. When did they start um, when did the Germans start to get more aggressive and violent?

In the ghettoes.

What kinds of things happened in the ghetto?

What things happened. They had--first of all you know, in the ghetto we had uh, the Germans. We had Ukrainian police. And then we also had Jewish police. In fact, they wanted, they asked my father to become one of the policeman in the ghetto, which he refused.

Who as...he Germans asked him?

No, no. The, um, you see they picked out two or three people from the ghetto and uh, they told 'em, we want to have so many Jewish policemen to help us control everything.

So it was the Jewish Council.

Right. And they asked my father to join and my father did not want to join. He, he told them, he says, I was involved in enough things before. Right now I'm--I don't want to be involved in no Jewish police in the ghetto. And some of them were very mean. They thought the Germans told them that if they controlled things uh, they would uh, get more food and they would be all right. You know, they promised them. And a lot of them you know, they didn't, they didn't give the Jewish police any uh, guns, but they gave 'em sticks. And a lot of them used to come around and hit people. And, uh...

Were you ever hit?


Your father?

Uh, I don't know. I was never hit. Uh, I saw many times uh, looking out the window. In the ghetto I saw a lot of times I saw uh, older people walking and for no reason at all hitting them with the butt of a rifle, dropping down bleeding uh, and uh, in fact uh, for a long time uh, we were in the ghetto approximately about a year. From August of '41 'til August of '42. And as I said previously, conditions were very bad. Sanitation, food. They used to ration so many ounces of food, eh, bread a day and then give you a, a--some hot soup, which was water--hot water. And my father and my brother used to go out to work everyday. And my mother also. But they worked in different places. Uh, one thing that my father did do, wisely, before all this started was that, that he used to deal with a man--he used to deal with a lot of people, naturally--but there's one man that he was very close to. He was a Czech farmer. And just before the Germans came in, and I think even in 1939, he gave him an awful lot of our possessions. Furs, clothing, jewelry uh, a lot of fabrics that he had from his store. He gave--before the Russians took over, he gave it to this Czech. His name was Mr. Yerushka. And he told him, he says, "Look, he says, I'd rather you have it than the German government or the Russian government." And this man was a big, big help to us, uh...

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