Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Kent - August 7, 1984

The Ghetto

They were moved into the ghetto?

Into the ghetto, yeah, they formed the ghetto, they wanted the Jews--the Germans wanted to gather all the Jews in one area--and uh, soon after they sealed the ghetto with barbed wires, no one could uh, come out or no one could come in. And, life as bad as it was when the Germans just occupied our city, life in the ghetto was absolutely degrading, um, we had very little food. Our family was uh, like six, seven--we were like seven people given one room in the ghetto and uh, we had to, everyone had to work. In other words, you couldn't produce or uh, work uh, no matter--regardless of the age, you had to find a job and everybody was working. And in the ghetto, they had very often these selections. They wanted to get rid of the um, older people, the children, and the sick. And I remember one incident in the ghetto where they would come to the courtyard and ask everyone to come out to the courtyard. And so my brother--I had uh, my three older brothers uh, they would come out and they made sure that we, my mother and I and my little brother, they were hiding us in the basement in the bakery. And while--after the selection was over, they wanted to weed out all the sick, all the old, and the children, they would come in and I remember this incident when he, we were hiding in this uh, in the bakery, in the oven, my mother and I and my little brother, my mother put uh, her hand over my brother's mouth he was coughing and she says, "Don't do it in case the Germans come in and look for us here, they would hear you making this sound." And after the selection was over, my brothers would come in and, and say it was over, thank God. And my mother sort of knew they would not be taken because they were young and uh, healthy and so good-looking. So uh, many selections were going on in the ghetto by the Germans and by some uh, Jewish policemen who were in charge. And I remember this clearly how many times they would have a truck full of children--you could see it from the outside--and we never knew where the children went.

You had no suspicions?

No. When they were taking the children, they would just tell them they gonna go to a camp but we didn't know anything about it. Where they were going. Also, the life in ghetto became so unbearable that my uh, brother, the adopted brother, he became very disillusioned with the life in the ghetto--there was no food--and so he volunteered for work for uh, uh, to a camp where they said uh, they should go to a labor camp where they could work and get more food rations. He was very disillusioned with the life. Uh, my brothers uh, all worked uh, on different jobs and I worked for twelve hours a day. Uh, but our family was together and uh, many, many of our relatives died of uh, malnutritions and uh, diseases, and often when I would come from work I would see these dead bodies on this street and we didn't have much of a social life in Łódź but most of the time we could see each other at uh, funerals. There was a social gathering and then at one point, they couldn't take care of the death anymore and I think they were just burying them in mass graves in the ghetto. People were just dying of diseases. Uh, there was so little food, I remember when they had um, we had some food rations but uh, the food never came into the ghetto. By the time it did come in, were potatoes and the potatoes were frozen. And we would stay in lines for hours and hours to get some vegetables and we would take turns standing in line. My brother would start out and I would come out and then my other brother would come out. It would go on like a night and a day to get into the line for these various vegetables they were giving us. We were a little bit better off because my brothers worked in a bakery, so we had a little more bread. And at one time, I remember uh, people were just dying everyday. My, my close relatives, my aunt and her children died and um, at one point, my mother was forced to give up one of my brothers. My oldest brother went already to that uh, to a volunteer camp but my mother had to give up my bro... one of my brothers, Larry or my brother Jack and uh, she was really faced with a dilemma, she couldn't, she would say, "What's the difference which hand you gonna cut off, the right or the left, it would hurt the same," so um, uh, just before we went into the ghetto we had some diamonds and she mounted the diamonds in my heel and having these diamonds, she sold the diamonds and she got about fifteen or sixteen breads, I don't remember exactly, and she bought like a volunteer to substitute for my brother to send him to a camp. We never heard from these people. Once uh, you were taken on these transports, we never heard from these people again.

Let me ask you a question. How, how was she notified that one of your brothers would go, do you remember?

Yes uh, they were both working in a bakery. So, they had records of my mother having two sons. And so that's how they were notified that one of them has to go. And this was the order from the president that we had. He was in charge of our ghetto, President Rumkowski. And he issued all these orders, I'm sure it came from a higher um, command but he was the one that uh, instituted all these laws uh, in other words uh, uh, he's the one that made sure that one of my brothers had to go. They sent out orders.

Who was that?

Rumkowski's the one that made sure...


Yes, he was the head of it.

Did you ever see him?

I remember seeing him, yes, he was an older man, grayed haired man, very distinguished looking man but I never spoke to him or anything. I just remember pictures of him. 'Cause we had our own money printed in the ghetto and his picture was on the money; the money was worthless. But yet I remember that uh, we had um, money printed in the ghetto.

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