Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Konstam - October 25, 1991

Life in the Ghetto

Now when they moved you into the ghetto though, before you left um, how did you know where to go? Were you given a...

You just, you find, you had to find your own place.

You had to find your own. So you didn't know anybody living in that neighborhood.

Oh, well uh, most of the time uh, as I mentioned before, all this kind of uh, uh, you know, you find what, you find what you get, you know. Whatever it was.

When they came to... There was a Judenrat.

Yeah. Rumkowski.

Rumkowski. Did you know, did you ever encounter Rumkowski?

I didn't encounter personally. And he was the person, nobody knew anything about him. Man, I think he was an insurance man before the war. And all of a sudden he came, the ältester of the Juden, you know, he was the so-called the, the uh, certain charge of the... And he became a beast. He became a, actually a... That's exactly what they wanted to have someone like this. They do all the dirty work for the Germans.

What types of things did he do that you heard about?

First of all, with the, with the uh, food rationing was terrible. And he always uh, was riding around in that uh, in that couch uh, with the...


Yeah, with the guards hanging on, on the both sides. And he, he wore big boots, you know. He was gray-haired. Old man! He was just terrible. They made songs, you know. I don't know if you ever heard songs about, about him, you know.

Do you remember the songs?

Uh, I, I'm not much of a uh, singer, but I do uh, remember some, uh...

Well, what were the words of the song?

Oh ??? you know, ??? is a mixture of uh, of uh, of grains and stuff like that. Very, like you give to the animals. Like a uh, like a uh, horse or, or a cow. You just eat that. And, you know, there was... I, I, it was, I don't remember the song. But I remember it was a lot of uh, it was a satirical, oh, satirical songs about him. He didn't even mind. At first uh, he had 'em arrested. Later on he thought maybe it was to his advantage uh, to have these satirical songs about...

Did you know other members of the Judenrat besides Rumkowski? There were others.

Others were not noticed. They didn't, were not noticeable. He was the only one that was noticed. He stayed in forefront, you know.

And the Jewish police...

You know, he made a kingdom. Yes, Jewish police and so on.

And they used to call him King Chaim, right.


What about the Jewish police? How did people feel about that?

Ah, this was uh, depending on a personality. If one was nice, and most of them were on his orders, so they go out with the clubs and beating people. It's a, it's a, it is a uh, it, it is odd how people can change in... When things get bad how the nature of these same people changes, you know.

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