Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Gun - August 27, 1993

Living with a Farmer and his Family

Uh, lived in the forests, you were on the run from one place to another, and now you live with this strange farmer. What had happened to you in between the time you were 5 and 9?

I, mainly I believe I became uh, I didnt have much feelings. I became numb, if you ask me, I think. I dont remember crying uh, dont remember laughing. It became of a life I dont know what words to use. Uh, I really, I really cant find the right word for it. But it was just a numb feeling. Somethin like, hey this is what, this is how you, this is how you meant to be living right now this is how you have to live. And I accepted it uh, with, without much questions asked. Its the only thing I can say. Uh, like I say, I never--I dont recall crying, I dont recall hollering. I knew I had to be quiet wherever I was. And then this was uh, type of life I, I knew I had to lead being uh, 9, 8 1/2, 9 years old.

And Anszel same?

Anszel the same. I mean, he understood--Im sure being double my age, not double, being 10 years older. Well almost was double my age...

Good point, yeah.

At that point uh, naturally he understood more, as much as an 18 year old can understand. But he knew he had to survive, and the will to live, and the will uh, to run, uh, no to hide away from our tormentors or the people who were lookin to kill us. He understood that much. And I uh, I only understood of uh, I dont know, fear.

Is that the dominant emo... emotion you remember is fear?


Just, just from beginning to end?

Right, being afraid. Uh, not being allowed to do certain things or anythings, I dont remember--I dont have any re... recalls of playing with anybody or...

Who else was there?



There were two little girls in that house, but I mean I, I was in the basement and they were upstairs, I dont know. One, my brother claims, was about my age, one was younger.

So he was hiding, he was hiding another family?


Oh, this was his family?

That was his family he was only hiding us two. And that was Mr. uh, [pause] the Czech...


Yerushka you remember better than me. Yerushka used to take care of him. He used to give him whatever he needs. And uh, he was very ha... in fact uh, my brother tells me that his wife wasnt too happy about the idea. She was sort of scared, the guys wife that was hiding us. And he, he was a quite well, I imagine those years the husbands were very dominant anyway. Used to tell her, hey you do as I say and thats it.

Was she younger?

Younger than him?


Uh, maybe 3, 4 years...


But not, not much and uh, he told her, he says look I want to do this, Im doing a favor for somebody and you just keep quiet. And we had an incident over there also. But this finished one winter of 'fort... uh,...

'Forty-two, '43.

Right, '43 in the spring we went back into the forest. And met up again with some people here and there, some were different, some, some that uh, were also somewheres else during the winter and, and we kept going back to our friend for food.

Was there ever any disease? Did you get sick? I know your lice...

Lice, thats it; didnt get sick 'til after we got liberated only sickness that I remember was uh, that uh, what I told you about having sunstroke. And...

No typhus?

No, not 'til after the war.

And then you had typhus?

Yes, both of us right after liberation. But otherwise, you know, its amazing, colds--I dont remember, I dont remember sneezin to be honest with you. You know, and there was--we slept in the forest many a times when it was plenty a cold. The first winter there we were still there when there was snow. Where at--he gave us some blankets or whatever, I used to put over me and one underneath. But we slept right on the snow and no colds and no pneumonias.

And no talking?

No talking.

Lots of silence?

Silent, sure we used to whisper among ourselves like in the forest. But uh, my brother probably talked more like to the people more, you know. What could I say? Being of that age, what could I uh, what kind of conversation actually could I go in with uh, older people? I could ask them to read me uh, Red Riding Hood, or, or Cinderella.

[laughs] Was he a religious man do you think?

This uh, Primas?


Uh, not that much. I dont believe he was uh, too religious.

Cause you said the first day he saw you and he crossed himself.

Oh that was uh, the other one uh, Yerushka.

Yerushka oh.

Yes, he was I believe a religious man, yes but not the Ukrainian. But Yerushka was a very--I mean we, we owe him a lot. We...

Do you think that might have motivated his, his saving you his, his religious conviction?

Who knows who knows?

And the, the farmer you have no idea why he did it?

He did it strictly, I think, uh, for material reasons and also because he wanted to do the guy a favor.

So its a combination of...

Yes uh, he definitely did it becau... if he would have been, been an S.O.B he probably would have never done it. He had to have some uh, heart in him.

Were you afraid of him?

No, no. I was afraid when I used to hear a knock...


On the door. I remember once when we were at that first farmer hiding out we were, I know once we were--somethin happened, we were, we were upstairs there and there was a knock at night, or somethin and we got, my brother and I got into a closet. And the other, the other man went in with his daughter in someplace else. And I remember standing in the closet and sort of shivering. But I was never afraid of the--never felt any fear of the guy that kept us actually.

Just of the Germans. What, what were the um, the, the people who would have picked you up, were they Germans or were they Ukrainian police? Do you remember?


Both were looking.

The Ukrainians were lookin more than the Germans because the Germans couldnt actually come be involved in every little village, in every little town, you know what I mean?

Mm-hm. So when, when the, when they would come to look into the forest it would be...



When they came to the forest from the main road to shoot, there was the Germans and Ukrainians.

And Ukrainians.


Do you re... you remember their uniforms?

The Ukrainians?

Well, either.


And what did they look like?

The Ukrainians had like a, uh, um, blue, some kind of blue with uh, a blue with a brown in it.

And, and the Germans?

And the Germans had their green and some of the S.S. in the brown.

And the lice were white?

And the li... lice were white. And we used to crack 'em on our, in our, on our thumbs.

Is that how you passed the day?

That was about it. Couldnt read--first of all I didnt know how to read and there was nothin to read, and my brother didnt read, there was nothin to read in the forest. In the--and when we were in the farmers uh, cellar it was dark, and I dont think there was any books, they didnt have no books or, I dont think they had any newspaper, I dont know.

The... then, then what--so you were in the, the, in Primas house. How long did that last?

We were at Primas house for two winters actually. End of uh, we came there may be in December or January of '43, and stayed 'til, say April or May. Soon as it, as soon as the snow melted and we could get out we left back into the woods. Then, say December or November of '43.

You went back to him?

We went back.

Did you keep in touch while you were in the forest with him?

With him, I think we used to meet--you see during the uh, summer he worked at, at uh, Yerushkas.

Oh, right.

So we used to see him occasionally. And uh, I guess around, I dont know for sure what month, I mean, Id hate to, to like I say as soon as it got colder when we couldnt stand it we went back. I dont know if it was October, end of October, beginning of November. And we had a very, had a terrible incident the second winter. See that, that man that we were with, that we were hiding in the first time around that wanted to get all the stuff from us.

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