Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Kent - August 7, 1984

German Invasion of Poland

Um, were you on one of these vacations in 1939?

This was just--yes. Uh, when Hitler declared war on Poland, we were in the country. Uh, September first, we're com...we're, we wanted to come back to go to school. And we were, we were not able to get any transportation. There were no buses, no uh, streetcars or no trucks, not even a horse and carriage available. And uh, all the trai...everything was mobilized for the war effort. And uh, I don't quite remember how we got home or we did get home my mother was in tears waiting for us uh, for our return. And um, I think September first, yeah, that's when Hitler declared war on Poland. And uh, immediately uh, the uh, Nazis occupied our city. It didn't take more than like two days and they were in Łódź.

Do you remember that?

When we came into uh, excuse me, when we came back from the country uh, the Germans were not in Łódź yet. They didn't capture Łódź but uh, within a day or so, I don't remember uh, a lot of, lot of soldiers were coming down our street. Although our streets were not very wide but it seemed like, like masses of soldiers would be marching through our streets and then we could see tanks and it was a frightening experience. Uh, they seemed to be marching in unison, it was a very frightening uh, experience when we did see the Germans and everybody would run in the house so they wouldn't have to face them again.

What, what did your family or you think about uh, all this? The Germans, the war, um, did you think in terms of the occupation of Poland or what they would do to, to Jews?

Oh, excuse me, I, I don't think uh, that I thought uh, about the occupation--it was very frightening. And I don't remember at home uh, our main thought was uh, to stay together with the family and, and um, help each other but I cannot uh, remember what my mother's thoughts were on the Germans occupying the city. It was just a very frightening experience when they did capture Łódź.

Did life start to change right away?

Oh, extremely, yes uh, as soon as they captured uh, as soon as they occupied our city, every day they came out with different uh, laws and orders um, we had a curfew, we could only be seen between uh, going about between nine and five o'clock in the afternoon. We had to wear a um, yellow star on the chest and in the uh, on my back. And uh, they took away our intelligentsia, they took away all our lawyers, our uh, writers, our teachers, our clergy, and uh, our uh, I could not go to school anymore. The schools were closed. And so, I didn't have very much education. And uh, they took away our rabbis and uh, we couldn't go to synagogues anymore. There was no one to conduct even our services. And in some instances, I remember they burned down a synagogue and um, so I was deprived of an education at a very early age. And uh, we had uh, also we're given some ration cards but I don't ever remember having any sugar or any milk or any butter or any um, meat. But mainly, our family was together. We're all together in the uh, early uh, stage of uh, occupation. We're all happy that we could stay together in our home but soon enough that had ended. Our life in our own home and the Germans decided to uh, gather all the Jews in one area. So, we were deprived of our beautiful home and furnishings and we had to leave our home and take only what we could carry on our back, and move into the uh, oldest part of our city. Um, also uh, a lot of Jewish people were evacuated from the uh, suburbs of uh, our city, Łódź. And uh, very shortly after that...

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