Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Koby - April 20, 1999

Getting Food

Do you think your father was paying any of these people?

Are you kidding?

You didn't have any money.

For what?


Why did he have to go begging, sending me, a kid to get--ask for food? When he could have gone himself and say, "Here, I'll give you, whatever, ten dollars, give me a loaf of bread." Come on! My father had no means of paying.

But they knew him.

Well, sure they knew him. They knew who I was. I went to the mayor's house, you know. It's crazy. Isn't it a crazy approach? And he gave me the most food to take with me. People used to tell me, "You can eat all you want, but you can't take with you."


I came in the house, to the mayor's, I--the first time--looking at it now, that's horrendous. First thing they did, they took--they were almost, like asleep you know, it was very quiet. They were--the lights were out. They opened the door and they let me in. They asked me who I was. I told them, "Moshka." Oh. They opened the door. They let me in. They let the dog outside. They took blankets and they covered up the windows. Now, they only had three windows in the whole house. But it's--that's even three windows, you close. And she opened up the oven you know, those Dutch ovens they had in the house. And she took out this big cast iron pot of stew.

Eat it here.

And they put me in the corner. You know, she--they didn't even trust their own s...uh, ??? of the windows. They had a lamp over there at one end of the room so it shed light. And they gave me a wooden spoon--not a metal spoon, to eat stew. You know, hot stew, you eat with a metal--you know, with a fancy, burns your lips.

Oh, okay.

You eat with a wooden spoon, you don't burn your lips. I mean, you might burn your mouth with the hot food. And, eat some more, eat some more. I mean you know, you can only eat so much. You can--bread ???, must have looked wild.

Do you like stew?

Yes. I still do.

Do you?

It's easy to make. I mean, that's what--that's what peasants make. The most common food is a stew. Why? You take that thing and you throw it in and you shove it in the oven.


You can't you know, adjust the heat and then for temperature. That's how peasants cook. And they gave me a loaf of bread. They took and cut it in half, so it won't come from one house. Where did you get it? You can say you got it two places. I was there three--two more times. I was at that house three times.

And when you pick up a wooden spoon, do you remember this?

Oh, yes.

It comes back to you.

You don't even have to--you know, the minute you touch...


...oh, it's hot.

You remember.

Wooden spoon.

Yeah. When you brought the tea out, did it--did you just think of that?

Yeah, I couldn't--I like hot tea. My father used to have boiling hot water. It had to boil and he poured it in the saucer. I slurped it up.

Well, let's go, let's go back to Bytom now, for a second. You...


You had decided to leave there, basically, is how...

My parents had decided.


They went to Warsaw several times. You see, at that time, when we left Rovno, uncle Jack, my father's brother came from the Urals and his two nephews, Chyka's two sons came back from the Urals. You know, they were there because the Russians drafted them. In their retreat, they drafted them in the army. And they marched you know, I don't know for how long.

Oh, so they survived there.

They survived there.

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