Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Pauline Kleinberg - October 28, 1982

The Start of the War

Where were you when the war began?

When the war began I was home with my parents.

How did you hear about the war?

Oh I--there was a, there was a right away, you know, such a--people were running in the streets. We heard alarms, we, we heard, we heard the--it, it took about two hours, the Polish ar...uh, army was the--was already captured. They cam--the deserters came right away with the uniforms stripped. Oh, this was easy. Uh, we heard the bombs. We, we heard, we heard the, the, the, the um, railroads being uh, bombed. Thi...thi...this was in, you know, a novel. We had--because we were close to the borders--German borders. And people were running. One was on this road and one was--you know, people--we didn't know where they were going. They were just going, night and days.

Did you have any idea before this that this was going to happen?

Not the faintest idea. And I don't think so even our folks knew it could be such a Hitler, you know, to destroy uh, uh, uh, uh, to destroy people--civilian people. If not people running to Russia--at least Russia wasn't very good. But 90 percent of Russians, once they were Russia had survived. In concentration camps, no. So, so uh, we were all--with running--take a chance. But they wouldn't believe it. I remember uh, from uh, my sister--where she was married, she was in a nearby city, about, say, an hour with a bus to go, which it was really very close.

Husband: Twenty kilometers.

Yeah, very close. They were--they--her family--her husband's family, they all came running to us and ask to consult my father. "Shall we do Russia--we go?" "No, our family's going to stay all together." You know, people didn't believe for--such a thing. This is--you, you can't believe it. It's a monster, you know, this is beyond belief. So we, we stayed, so to...so he took care of us.

Do you remember what your thoughts were at the time about hearing--about seeing the war begin?

I was scared. I was scared, and when I seen the first shooting and the first taking out people in the street and have 'em dance with the beards and all this I, I didn't know where I should run. I was afraid to be in my own skin.

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