Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sally Horwitz - June 18, 2007

Ghetto Garbatka

Uh, you, there was a ghetto in Zwolen, is that right?

It was not closed up ghetto.

So there was no barb wire?

They, they didn't, they just uh, couldn't. Wherever they would push us they would have to displace somebody else. And there was no place to put them because it was burned. The town was burned. I mean every other house was burned. It, it was unbelievable what, what happened. Uh, the church they took over for horses right away. Their, their horses, I, I mean it was, it was unbelievable. The school, was one school, they took it over right away they cut school, they cut everything. 'cause, I mean nobody went to school through the whole war, I understand. Well anyways, so we came to Garbatka. They told us all, "sit down," on the ground. So we sat down, the railroad was let's say like less than across the street, across over here. And there were cattle cars and you could smell like chlorine coming at us. On this side were houses and those damn Poles came out with water and they charge you for a drink of water. Because we couldn't stop for nothing, not the bathroom, not, for nothing just march. And we sat down on the ground and all of a sudden--oh my oldest sister uh, night before, my uncle-I described somebody something and uh, because there was a potato farm. Which was in policzna, which belonged to a Polish um, uh, ???, what do you call it uh, Count or something. You know, they had lots and lots of land with the farms and all that stuff. And so there was a potato farm there. So there were some people already there working on the farm, Jewish people. And they figured, you know, they'll stay together, they'll stay on the farm and work there and, and slept in a, in a uh, where they keep cows. You know, the, the barn, I got it, barn. Uh, and my sister and two cousins and my uncle, his wife and a little four year old ??? went at night and they got into that farm and they figure, you know, after it will be over they'll go back. So, there's always somebody who squeals. So they took my uncle and my aunt and my little niece, uh, uh, cousin I should say. And about 14 people and they beat the hell, hell out of them. And my uncle was very blonde, I say because there's a reason I'm saying. And all of a sudden we see those people coming, and my uncle saw my mother, they were very close. They, you know, close in age. Uh, I know, I don't know, he was very close to my mom, we were all very close lived in the same town. But who, we lived on the same street and he was very, very close to us. Um, so he saw my mom and he sits down on the ground next to my mom and he was sobbing. And his head had, they hit him over the head and he had welts from whatever they hit him with. It's more embarrassing, I guess than it hurts. It's more humiliating when they hit you for nothing. And my mom was carrying a little tin can with a handle, with water and she had jewelry in there. And uh, she took some water, squeezed out and she put it on his head and he was sobbing. And my little cousin, she's four years old, I can't even describe what she wore. She had this blonde curly, curly hair, blue eyes like this, beautiful blue. And she was wearing a little skirt, a little jacket on this, and a jersey to match with flowers, handmade on the skirt. And she was twirling around and her curls were flying, I don't know why I concentrated on her. Maybe because she was close by, I don't know. And um, we was sitting and sitting, you know, we don't know what's gonna happen. But people were sensing something because uh, from the East, when they got farther in they were burning people right away. There were the Poles helping them. They were helping with the, with the, with the barns. They gave over their wooden barns, don't ask what went on uh, in Jedwabne they said the Germans, they did it. And nobody, one escaped and after years they said not the Germans, not the Germans. Nobody would believe him until finally some agreed with him, that's a different story. I'm talking about my...


My story.

Neighbors, right?

Um, we, we were waiting there, we didn't know for what. And those people came from that farm including my uncle. All of a sudden I was sitting on the ground, next to my mom and my little sister and my middle sister, we were all sitting there. And a German SS man, I seen his face. He walked by, he looks at me and uh, he walks back, I mean, a little farther and my mom says, "get in back of me," just like that. "Get in back of me, put your head down." So I did. So he comes again, stops right in front, "Kam doch raus," there's no choice you have to get up and go. So I picked myself up, "Kam doch raus," and he tells me to stand here. My mom pushes my sister and she had cut my hair but I guess to her I still have long hair in her mind. I guess because there was no soap, whatever. And she pushes my sister, "Geh mit dir" ??? waschen Kopf allein." My sister never forget it. That she pushed me to go just in case she will have to help me with my hair. Because she always washed my hair, my mom. And she goes up and he let her. All of a sudden people were running, I mean, hear, hear shooting because they said something and the uh, he picked out 13 or 14 girls, and I was the first one there, would you believe this. And they tell us to line up and there go the guns on each side with the rifles, and walk. So we walked another three kilometer to the farm where my older sister was. How--why, I was picked, not to be un... not to be, I was, I, something was pushing me, I don't know who. Don't go behind the, the, the uh, thing. Don't stay here, do not stay there, I don't know. So I--we went to the farm and everybody was crying there because they had somebody just beaten up, you know, a lot of people were beaten up there and they took "em in the fields. And they take us straight to the field, not a drink of water, not a, nothing. Pick, and this was high noon, pick what, to pick potatoes. I, I how do I know how to pick potatoes. The, the horses wasn't way in front of us and they were digging, you know, with the uh, from here to here. And there was a row of people and they were picking potatoes and putting the two people holding a basket and putting in the basket. So we were doing the same thing. We still wore the clothes we were with and um, dirty, sweaty. Oh god, I don't know, how did I make it, I don't know. And then we just fell down and, on, on the straw, they had like for the cows little things so that put four people w...would sleep on the straw. If you didn't have something like a blanket or whatever you, you--meanwhile we were able to schlep something with us so they didn't tell us to leave it. Uh, so we, we laid and cried there. And we had potatoes, there was a woman, that woman she was almost a hundred years old from my home town. She remembered my dad, she remembered my mom and she was there too in that farm already with her husband. She gave her two children, I remember her children like now. To a Polish woman to save them until she gets out, you know, 'cause everybody thought they'll be back in a few days, a few months or whatever. She probably gave them anything she had, everything she had. She handed over those two children to save those two children. Um, when, when a few days later a group of young men from our hometown. They left them behind to clean up the mess. The people they shot, the people uh, that man was talking about a little girl and she was our neighbor there, on the, on the same from Zwolen, he had some story to tell. Um, she--Raizele she, she has brothers and she was the youngest little girl. And we had girls like the diagonal, we lived the diagonal from her and so she was always over our house. She had blonde hair, beautiful dark eyes, she was gorgeous, a gorgeous little girl. So I think the mother, you know, when they took us out everybody was hoping they'll take, you know, a little blonde girl they'll take her in, somebody's gonna taker her. Well this little girl, he told that story to us when he came to the camp. Um, and then he told it while he was interviewed, I couldn't believe it, but anyways, he uh, um, when they left about, I don't know, eight, I forgot how many men, men young boys, teenagers to dig uh, to clean up, you know, the mess there when they shot all those people to bury them some place or whatever they were doing. And the, the Nazis saw that little girl wandering around and they recognized her. The, the, the boys knew who she was but they didn't say anything. And she was crying, just alone, crying, nobody took her in. Um, so the German said to the guys, they say um, he walked over to the little girl and he spoke to her in Polish and she answered naturally, she was about four years old. He gave her an apple and he says to the guys, "what kind of a mother is this? She must be Jewish, what kind of a mother is she to leave a little girl like this alone?" So they told her to walk with the apple and shot her. They shot her in the head. So, he says she jumped up so he shot her again and he says, "What kind of a mother, what kind of a people wo...won't take in a little girl." There was no place to hide, no place to do anything. Well anyways, so they came back and they, all of a sudden I see ??? this is the woman, because they were uh, older than anybody else there. So they were the cooks. All of a sudden the guys come in and they were talking to her and she asked, you know, she, she told "em that she let the, the, the little children, that woman, and she collapses. They were talking to her and all of a sudden she collapses, I mean, she just went down, just went down. And, and her husband kept putting water on her from the bucket, put water, and she opens her eyes and boom she's down again. What happened, they chased out the two children. They, they told her that uh, they saw the children, I think uh, one of her brothers, she had a brother or some neighbor, they were holding their hands and they were marching. So and, she never had any children again, the husband, two of them survived and she lived in that, like in a living hell. She says, "God doesn't want to take me." It was a living hell for her. Uh, from there, and again I uh, I was always lucky with something, I don't know. The Polish, they were, her Polish Aufsehers you know, the people who oversee us and there were Germans too, but they were Poles, the farmers who uh, worked there on that field they, they got them in, the, you know, to supervise. Uh, they came in on horse whips, with, with the horses. With the uh, not the Poles the uh, the Germans. It, it, it, it, wherever you went they were there. Uh, so there was one uh, who was the main guy and they didn't have any children. And in the winter, I think they were doing the uh, they were making by hand the uh, what do you call it, ???, the, here everything is facade, the bricks, you know. They, they were building houses so they were making it by hand. But in the summer I guess he was working, you know, in the fields. And his wife used to bring me food. I mean the food we had, even so there was potatoes, there was potatoes, that's it. No salt, no nothing. So um, she took a liking to me and she brought me food. So I shared it with me sisters, naturally. And then was getting close to fall. We worked--we were digging holes for gar...for latrines. And some people still had some money, some, some guys, and made Polish money. And in the street there's a store close by, there was no salt there, you know, to, to cook the food. Uh, he says, "who would like to go and buy some salt," you know, the, it's lunch time nobody's there except, you know, the Polish, one of the Polish Aufsehers. And who would let us go anyways ???. And this SS, I wrote about him a lot. Uh, and, so I went down, I said "I want to go." Hey I was a wanderer and I would like to explore, I said nobody's here, why not. So I take my time, I go to the, to the store, there was a little store there. She looked at me, she knew who I was ???. I said I would like some salt and she gave me a little bag of salt, she looked at me, she weighs the salt and I give her the money. And I'm wandering back, I'm taking my dear time and I look around and I climb up the hill, I mean, I was stupid. By the time I got back the German was there and he started to scream at me, and he started to scream at me and he's holding a rifle. And he's screaming his head off and he said, "turn around!" and he's putting on the rifle, and you know what I was thinking, "oh my god I'm going to die." I hear my two sisters crying and I say, "I think I'm going to die." I didn't care I just put myself out of it because I'll be dead. All of a sudden ??? came running, he, he just came in and he saw, so he's asking the other guy, "what's going on here?" And he sees the, the rifle and he sees pointing at me, he grabs the rifle from him and goes like this, "I sent her, you can shoot me but I sent her." In seconds, you know, sometimes it, it's--you hear stories and that's not true, in seconds he grabbed his hands and pulled up the rifle. Like the saying goes, for another day. Uh, and he yelled at me, like anything after. He says, "what did you do, what did you do, why did you do that?" I did other things which I was stupid and I did, to uh, to German people, I uh, oh god German Jews. They would use anybody those creeps or Austrians whatever they were. And I helped them escape. And the dogs almost took me apart. I was so stupid, I mean, you're young, you're stupid...

Tell me...

You're 13--you're 12, you know, you're stupid, you're, you figure nothings gonna happen to you.

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