Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Reactions to Disinfection

How did your mother react to you or you to your mother and your sister when you were shaved and, and naked?

Yeah, we was looking on each other and crying. And my mother didn't have hair because she was wearing a ...

A sheitel.

So, but uh, she wa...say, see, she told me, because I grow my hair back you know, because when I got married I had a sheitel too. So uh, and I--so she says, "See, God punished you. Your hair, they shaved you." I say, "Mother, God punished all of us. Where is He? He..." I, I start talking like this. She didn't like it, you know. She was angry that I was mentioning there's no God. I said, "What do you think, where is He if He let us here suffer like this?" And we looked at each other like uh, never saw my mother naked. She uh, probably saw me naked but uh, as I was uh, growing up she, you know. We was taught at home, you go and you wash yourself and, and uh, close the door and nobody should know, you know. I was so stupid I didn't know what a girl has a period. I was fourteen year old, I didn't know those things. My mother never told me. So when I grew up I-- and when I got married, I said if I have girls, I will tell 'em you know, right away.


They will be small children. And I did. I told my girls. My older daughter said, "Mother, I know it." I say, "How do you know it?" She says, well, she had a girlfriend, she had an older sister, so she knew from her. And, I, I wasn't. I went horseback riding, I was already fifteen almost. And uh, here the girls have by eleven. So at home I went horseback riding and I come home and I bleeding and so I said, oh my gosh, what, is it from the horse? And my mother forbid me to go horseback riding, so I didn't want to tell her. And I did all kinda things and it doesn't stop. So I went to the girl across the street to the priest's daughter and I uh, Manya was her name--and I said, "Manya," I say, "so and so happened to me." She said, "Oh you stupid," she said, "what did you have the monthly?" That's what they called it. I said, "I don't know."

This is the priest's daughter, is that what you said?

Yeah, yeah, they had...

You were friends with her?

Yeah, they had twins. We had birthdays and another girl, the ??? girl, four of us, we had birthday the same day.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn