Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Gun - August 27, 1993

Encounter with a Ukrainian Policeman


You might get killed next year. So Im sure they didnt uh, I didnt realize anything. [pause] Now uh, we were--like I was telling you, we were in uh, in a forest right, alone--I also remember one night we were crossing the road going to that Czech for food and there was a Ukrainian policeman, stopped us. He was dr... on a bicycle with a, like a M-2, I dont know what they called it at that time, it was on his shoulder. And he stopped my brother and I, and he asked my brother and he says where are you going? He says uh, to Osawa. He says uh, to him, he says where are you coming so late at night? Well it happened to have been a Sunday my brother told me. It hap... he says, where are you coming so late at night? He says, we had a--the Ukrainians used to have like parties on Sunday nights, called a vetcherin, he says we were at the vetcherin he says at a different little village there. He says, he says I think youre Jews. He says youre crazy, said what do you mean Jews? He says you want to come with me to Osawa? He says Ill show you uh, my house and he says how about this little fella here, he says, where, where is he? He says I took him with... He says you took the little fella with you to a party? Hey says, yeah, he says he had some friends over there and I wanted to take him. And you know what? He let us go. And the reason we believe that he let us go was because he might have been scared. He was all alone, even though he had a gun he thought--he didnt know who else was in the forest, maybe theyll jump him.

Were there partisans in those forests?

Not that we knew. We had no--we didnt meet with any, we didnt know of any. But the, these Ukrainians knew that there were Jews in the forests. There was many times with the--they came with the Germans and they were shooting into the forests. And what happened is, you know, when people hear the sh... shooting they start running, and they used to run out. And what we always did, I know we always used to go in quite deep.

Tell, tell--describe the forest. In, in the United States people think of forests, like little patches of trees. Its not what the forest was like in...

No, they were much thicker, quite, quite thick with trees. And uh, you couldnt see through it. You know its a dense, dense forest where uh, you know, you, you really cant see through it and it was running quite deep. And then naturally if you went in real deep nobody could see you for quite a long distance. But like I say, there was incidents when the Germans and the Ukrainians came and shot into the forest. Some people would start running and theyd run right into 'em. But we were already--we knew it already and when we did hear shooting we used to start going deeper and deeper into the woods, instead of going the other way.

Mm-hm. So you, so you learned about camping on the job so to speak?

Yes, we learned how to camp very early. And uh, I believe after, I never camped uh, I never did any camping after the, after I got liberated. I think I had enough at a young age.

Now, basically this was your brother who was ru..., ru... running the...

Sure, my brother was running the show. And uh, I, I believe he deserves a lot of credit at that age to be able to do things like that and--but uh, I guess circumstances make you grow up very, very fast.

Had you seen anyone shot by now since 1939?

I did not. I dont remember seeing anybody shot. Ive seen somebody get hit uh, by a German soldier in the ghetto, and this I recall or even before they put us into the ghetto. But I didnt see anybody get shot in front of me, I really didnt.

What were the circumstances in which you saw somebody get hit? Uh, you saw a Jew get hit by a German?


Where, on the street?

On the street.

So what did you think at that point?

What could I think? Uh, I was scared and thats all I could think.

So you kept going deeper into the forest so they wouldnt be able to see?

So if they shot that the bullets wont hit us. And uh, and as the winter approached it started to get uh, in those parts of the country used to get quite cold quite early.

This is winter--the end of '42 now?

Yes, thats uh, '42, December--I mean, no before, you know, the winter gets in there early, not like in Detroit.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn