Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Kalmas - May 25, 1982

Life in the Ghetto

Prior to that, describe the life in the ghetto--the first ghetto.

In the first ghetto, of course, it wa...it was home. But still, no matter where it is or what it is, it's home. So you move from this place, you move to the other place. Of course, it's, it's entirely different from the home that you were used to. You move into some shanty, or whatever, you know, somebody lived there. It was some Gentile, I don't know, laborer, or whatever worker he was. You had to move in there--that was a place it was available. There was three, four families into a--to, to a room. And uh, of course, typhoid start setting in, all kinds of sicknesses. And uh, was no doctor.

Was anybody in charge over the ghettos?

Yes there was a Judenrat. What can a Judenrat do? They had rat...rations, you know, for the, for the ghetto, and all that. I uh, like I said, I had the opportunity to be outside the ghetto all day and go in and out whenever, you know, I felt like it or had a necessity to go home or to go to the place. So a lot of farmers brought in, oh, like eggs, flour, potatoes, what have you, for so-and-so or so-and-so--they owe 'em some money, you know. I carried it in for them. Plus myself that I took home, you know, for, for my family. And that's...

In the ghetto was there enough food?

Not enough. There was a--set up a kitchen. People like us or like myself--my family didn't have to go to the soup kitchen because uh, I was still able to provide enough food for the family. Because I had the shop--I still had the business going, so it wasn't too bad. But when they transferred us to the other ghetto, then I'm already a stranger in a, in a, a strange place. Didn't know the place anymore, so we had to join the, the soup kitchen.

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