Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Klaiman - May 4, 1982

A Day in the Ghetto

Do you remember--I just want to be accurate--just a little bit back into the ghetto--when you were in the Łódź ghetto, can you just describe what your day was like? When you woke up in the morning, what was the first--just go through a, a, a day in the ghetto.

Was very bad, every day. First was you didn't have enough food. You was--it was in hunger everyday. And when you go out you didn't want to walk on the street because you saw every time you saw people laying in death. I--in sickness, swollen, you know that you could see on the face this people's not going to live--your best friend is not going to live long because all his face was swollen, fat. You could know that this is just water, or you could see that he's dying. Skinny like, they had no meat on the--just bones. See, you didn't want to go out. You just were sitting and reading a book or...

But you said you worked.

Yeah, you worked. I worked very--I worked sometimes I worked four hours and sometimes eight hours a day because I was young. It was this time, in, in 1941 I was thirteen, fourteen years old.


I worked four hours because I was from the young group. If you was older you worked eight hours. And I had time...

And the other part of the day, did you--did they have any--was there any school? Any activities? Did you ever sit...


...with anybody else?

...I was going and reading books. I had a group. We was reading and--when you're young you try to forget the bad things. But it didn't help too much because when you come home, you saw what happened. Even yourself you was hungry. When a man is hungry he's not, he's not the same human being that you want to be. And....

What kinds of things did you try and study? Was there a teacher, was there--who organized it?

A group of my friends. It was a group more from--was a lady who organized not work hard. Tried to strike to organize people to understand we don't have enough food and not to work too hard, that we're not going to be able to live long because of that. Was a--it was a socialist group.

Do you remember which group?

Mm, was a socialist group that eh, I was young--I was thirteen, fourteen years old. I know that this is one thing what can help. That it was a group--we was reading a lot of--about socialism in the world.

And Zionism--did you read about Zionism?

Zionism, a lot too.

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