Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Gun - August 27, 1993

Family Life before the War

Before we start with the war, tell me something about your family before the war, what... whatever you remember as a child?

Well as much as I know I was uh, lucky, I guess to one extent, to be born to quite an affluent Jewish family. My father was quite well-to-do for those times. He was involved in about three different businesses. He had a retail of uh, clothing, that's cl... that's uh, clothing before it's made--uh, material. He was also involved in the wholesale tobacco company with the mayor of the town. He also had an egg export company. So he was quite well-to-do for those times. Uh, there was nothin' that I was missing. I can remember as a child having bananas, oranges, which not many children got in those years.

How large was your family?

I had--my family consisted of my brother, ten years older, and a sister, seven years older than me.

And their names were?

My brother's name is Anszel, my sister's name was Rose, my father's name was Sam Gun, and my mother's name was Sonia.

And, was this a large Jewish community?

Our town--the population of the whole town was around 15,000 and 11,000 were Jews. And it was quite a affluent uh, commerce city, you know, where business was flourishing and the Jews were very, very active in the community. Um, my father uh, was not a religious man he used to go to shul occasionally on Shabbo... on Shabbot to please his mother. He always, uh, he, he--whatever he had, he got workin' hard and he never forgot the working people. And did an awful lot of community work to help the poor. To uh, establish a Jewish folk, folk--it was called the Volkschule. And uh, he did an awful lot of work for uh, for the betterment of the community.

This is a peoples school, a Jewish school?


Um, what was your mother's maiden name?

My mother's maiden name was Apel. And she was born in a small town near our city by the name of Torchin. And she had uh, only one I remember--I remember vaguely was my grandmother.

Your mother's mother?

My mother's mother and her fa... my grandfather, from my mother's side was not alive when I was born. And she also had a brother, a little bit younger than her that was an invalid and used to sit--this I remember also he used to sit on a special chair whenever I used to see him, when I used to come there.

In Torchin?

In Torchin.

Um, aunts and uncles, cousins?


How large was the family?

Uh, I had uh, I believe about three aunts.

From your father's side?

From my father's side. Living in our city of Rozhishche--had some children my age that I remember like a dream.

Um, grandparents?

My, from my mother's, from my father's side I also remember only the grandma. The grandfather also wasn't alive.

Any particular memories about the two grandmothers, I mean...

Uh, mainly I remember as my uh, my mother's grandma she used to be very, very worried about the family and, uh, I recall even in the ghetto, she walked the whole distance, which must have been--I don't know--thirty, forty kilometers to come and see what's happening in our town. That's about as much as I remember from my uh, grandparents.

How the, the extended family, with first cousins, aunts, uncles--how large do you think the family was all together?

I don't, I'd say all in our town alone, I would say probably sixteen, eighteen.

How many survived from that?

Uh, the only one survived out of all of us is myself and my brother and a first cousin of ours that ran away into Russia. And he survived and came to Israel and just passed away in 1992. He was my brother's age.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn