Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sally Horwitz - June 18, 2007

Catholic School

I went to a Catholic school, by the way. Supposed to be a public school, but the, the cross was there as big as I am. And every morning prayers, every afternoon prayers, but we didn't have to say them, and before we went home prayers. And before Easter, it was trouble, and the teachers too, they were terrible. Anyways, so I went to see the, a very, very ancient cloister, whatever you call it in English. Uh, what's a cloister?

A cloister.

I, um...

It's a nunnery, like, uh...

No, it's a religious um, cloister um, it's a religious...

It's a retreat...


Like a retreat.

Yeah, but it was tremendous, tremendous. Um, so when we came out there was some women, I still remember how they were dressed. Um, you want me to describe the clothes?

Sure, sure.

Okay, they wore like a beige little babushkas and beige blouses and dark wool skirts. And they came to the teacher, they asked if there's any Jewish children amongst uh, the class. Uh, so she said yes. Um, would you give them permission if we showed them something, the history here. So she said who...whoever wants to go, of course, I was the first one to go, I mean, we went, most of the girls went and some of them didn't. Of course it was lunch time some weren't paying attention, they were eating. And she took us to a place, I can describe it that place, I mean, to a T. Kazimierz the Great, who conquered ???. He had a Jewish girlfriend Esther, look it up on the thing, it's, it's I-- because I knew about it somehow, I don't know, maybe my Bubby told me, the ??? whatever. They went from one to the other because we had in the class an awful lot of Esther's. Anyway, so she, somebody was waiting for us and, of course, they had like a--they had like in the uh, when you go to a museum they don't want you to go inside, I mean, you know, to pass that particular little space because it was old. It was a synagogue. A synagogue where the king came to worship with Esther. The boys were baptized and the girls she brought up Jewish. He had a wife of course, she was just his mistress. But, she was called the queen. On the right side, I drew a picture for Artie because he told me it's going to bring, when he went to Poland he's going to Kazimierz. And without me thinking, I didn't know there was another Kazimierz there, which is right next to Kraków. This was his main place, but this was his summer place, so they call it Dolne, which was near the Wisła. And there was mountains there also. Anyways, so I drew my picture on the left side, was like a loveseat hanging on the wall, would you believe that? When he came he sat on that bench but then they put it up there. It was mahogany, not mahogany, light, light oak with red plush seat [laughs] with a gold rope, isn't that crazy. And right in front of us they had the Aron Kodesh With the, you know about that they didn't open it up? There, there was a curtain, a red curtain uh, a velvet curtain. And there were some seats uh, also oak seats. But it wasn't a big place, it was like from here maybe to, maybe to my--to the door over there. And I was so fascinated with it that I kept talking about it, you know, to my bubby. Anyways, so I wanted to make fun of my son, I mean, not fun, if I want to..."who knows, maybe uh, we come from the princess, um...


[laughs] Esther there, there everybody who was a child was an Esther." What happened? Uh, I forgot how many girls, daughters she had. So they were coming towards the, more to the west, to marry. Because they didn't marry just in that particular area. The boys I guess, whatever happened, they were, they were baptized. So they were coming towards Lublin you know, to the area, come there to marry people. But I don't know, I'm just teasing, my kids once in awhile. Um...

Why did they want to take you to, to this castle?

Why did they want to take us to the castle?

You said these women came and took you out of school?

No, not the women. We were coming from, from schooling, which was only a few kilometer, horse and wagon, would you believe it, the whole class. Must have been the second grade or so. They wanted to show us the cloister, which was a Catholic school, to show us the uh, the skeletons, where they hid from, from ministers, from, from whatever, I don't know, I don't remember. But they were buried there and it was like a um, um, built like um, a fortress practically. "Cause I remember we came to Kazimierz, to that uh, city first. Um, and then we went in and there was like a, a pathway. So I remember was in the summer so she told, the teacher told us to bring sweaters. I said, "sweaters, it was hot, why we go sweaters?" When you went in to that tunnel to get to the, the church it was cold, it just, almost blew us away. But we got there and I remember was dark, naturally. And the main thing they was showing us the um, the, where they were buried. So...

The crypt.

The crypts.


We saw skeletons, would you believe that? Um, that's why they took us there.

But, and they asked specifically if there were any Jewish children?

Well okay, they, they, not the teachers. There, there was one teacher with us. They didn't need chaperones because we behaved, we didn't, when she said sit down we sat down. So we're sitting on a bench, there was a bench in the Wisła, it was way at the bottom people looked like little flies. It was in the mountain area. So we're sitting down there, "bout three women, one of them came over and she asked if she had Jewish children in, with her. So there were Jewish children and Catholic children. So she took us, she want to show us some history. So whoever observed, observed, who didn't they were looking. I'm, was a very curious child and I, I mean it. I used to drive bubby crazy with questions. But this, I was there and uh, I, I could still draw the picture, [laughs] of the whole thing of the whole square. It, I'm, I'm telling you, it's unbelievable.

Did, did all the Jewish children go to the Catholic school or was there a Jewish school, too?

Uh, this was a public school, it was supposed to be a public school. They were opening up in 1938 a Talmud. This came, was supposed to come in from uh, Bialystok. But we had only ???, this was a small town. We didn't have enough room for uh, not room, not enough people for a lot of things.

So was there...

But we had a old, old gorgeous synagogue.

So there was a cheder. Children went to cheder?

Yeah, we had cheder. Uh, the um, the synagogue was also very old, very old. Built like a fortress. With pictures--I always tell my husband, and thank God somebody was talking about it--a woman who came from my hometown, and she died of, she must have been 100 and something. So I used to go visit there, she lived in New York, and my husband came with me, naturally. And she had, like I told my husband about the synagogue, she explained the same thing. I'm, whatever I say is what's there. Was the paintings were unbelievable, the ceilings. Where they uh, I can see the paintings cause I was scared of them. I thought, you know, they'd come flying at me. Um, it looks like um, maybe Moses with the Ten Commandments, I, I didn't realize who they were. They were gorgeous paintings. Not just potchky, potchky. I mean, the four, the, the seasons, it was gorgeous. Um, and uh, you know the Catholics are not supposed to ever get them to uh, uh, synagogue. They weren't permitted to step into a synagogue. The whole city was either Catholic or, or Jews. I remember there was a girl coming in by horse to, to school and what's, they, they had the Catholic uh, uh, what'd you call it uh, classes. We had to leave, we had to get out and we had a teacher who taught us the Bible, a Jewish teacher. My girlfriend's father was adamant, he says I'm paying taxes and the children have to have, you have the Catholic teachers, they--he wanted, he, he, he won. So they told him find a teacher. So he ???. And she taught us Polish, everything. Of course the Bible was, read, read, you know, like children's books because we were so young. And I loved the Bible, I still do. I just fell in love with the Bible. I was the for that, I was enthralled with it and now I'm taking classes.


Um, anyway um, so the synagogue um, I'm bringing up the Christians weren't permitted to go in. A teacher wanted them to see the synagogue. They were renovating something but the, the, the--I think wasn't touched there uh, I guess something, it was built like a, like a fortress. With the big doors, when there was any, any for grownups they went into the synagogue and locked everything up. Um, so he wanted him, it just so happened to be my mother's friend. And he wanted the children to see the paintings, cause there was nothing there in that town of Zwolen, really nothing. Uh, the only culture, the Jews had the theater and they performed things, but the, the, the non-Jewish kids--so they're talking of going back on their religion. So one girl, she was a Volksdeutsch, that means they were settled there for years and years. So she came by horse, that lived in that, that village, that German village. She came by horse to school when it was the Catholic, when they, they uh, they taught them catechism. So they wanted the Jewish kids to go and that's how we got the, the teacher. And before we got the teacher. So she was going out too, so I said why do you go out? She says, "Because I'm not Catholic." I was shocked; I thought the whole world was Catholic and Jews. So I said, "What are you, do you believe in Jesus?" She said, she started to laugh, she says, "Yes, what are you if you're not a Catholic." So she says ???. A Protestant [laughs]


And I didn't know that such a thing existed. So I asked my father what is that, you know, I just had to find out. It was weird, you're brought up either, either Catholic or the Jews. And this was the town and the surrounding villages, ???.

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