Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Gun - August 12, 1999

Outbreak of War

Um, tell me a little bit about the coming of the war in...


June 1941.

Well the...

Did the Russians come first?

Yes, actually we...

In 1939...

In September 1939 uh, I believe the Germans came into us. But they were there only for a very, very short period of time, maybe a few weeks. And uh, we didn't feel anything as far as from the Germans, because they didn't have enough time to, to get involved. So uh, the Germans were, were there and, like I say, I don't know if it was two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. But right then, Hitler and Stalin made that pact where they, where they divided Poland into two parts. And our part became Russia. And the Germans moved out. And when the Russians came in uh, I, I was five years old. So, I really don't remember much. And whatever I do tell you I know from what my brother told me. And uh, the Russians came in and as far as bothering Jews, they did not. Jews were--they didn't treat Jews any differently from any other people, which was something that we appreciated naturally. Uh, the only thing was that uh, the Russians did not believe in uh, free enterprise and capitalism. So whoever was uh, who owned businesses, they used to send uh, my brother told me there was a man that used to run one of the places. He came in and said, "Mr. Gun, we need the keys to your business, because as of today it's owned by the government." And naturally my father gave it to them. And uh, and then what the Ger...uh, what the Russians also did is uh, they used to inquire in town about people, how they were, what kind of people they were, you know. Especially in sm...small towns like ours. Uh, they uh, were able to find out if Mr. Gun was a nice man, if he treated his employees nicely. If he was nice to the working class. And whoever wasn't, they put on trains and shipped them to Siberia. Uh, my father, as I told you before, he worked a lot with the, with the working class, and he was very much liked, unfortunately for him. And they did not ship him anyplace. Left him home--left him in Rozhishche, left us in our house and gave him a job. And uh, we lived quite comfortably, except we probably didn't have a lot of the luxuries that we had previously. Uh, but nobody bothered us.

Explain what you mean by he was unfortunate--unfortunately...

Oh uh, the unfortunate part that he had such a good name was that the pe...most of the people that didn't have a good name, that were shipped to Russia, most of them survived.

To Siberia.

Shipped to Siberia. They came back after the war. I would say ninety-nine percent. A few did die of hunger, cold. But they didn't die because they were Jews. They died because this is how the conditions were in Siberia.

When, when the Germans came in, do you remember seeing them march in?


So, you were what, five, six?

Uh, no, when the Germans came in, we were with, under Russia up until June of '41.

Right, but you said the Germans came in first.

First I don't remember 'em at all not.

So not the first time.


© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn