Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Krystal - September 19, 1996

Outbreak of War

Tell me a little bit about the beginning of the war, you were away from home...


...with your grandparents. How did you find out the war had begun?

Oh I was, on, on the newspapers and on the radio constantly as the, the things were approaching and um, even in the first days of the war. And then um, my, my mother came for me. I don't know how she came but in going back, Jews were not allowed to use the train. So we went back by horse and buggy, which I think took us three days and two nights. We slept in barns and things like that so uh, she took me back home as soon as she could.

And, and do you remember seeing the Germans march in and did they uh, come into that sh...that shtetl?

Yes, they, they came in, in, in uh, first on motorcycles and then uh, uh, cars and just paraded around and didn't do anything in that particular shtetl. Didn't stay there very long either. That was, they had bigger places to secure. But they went through it. At that time they didn't do anything.

And what was it like back in Sosnowiec?

Of course Sosnowiec was occupied the very first day and uh, a couple of days later they round up, they took some Jewish men, among them my father and they took them into a compound where they [pause] tortured them. They made them run up and down, all kinds of things, beating them and uh, they didn't know what was going to happen. I think they took a few out and they uh, killed. And at the same time they were on, under this, uh. I think they may have been organizing the Judenrat as well. And then they released my father, so uh, we were glad to see him home, but uh, we were all, we got the message that this was going to be something we couldn't even have imagined before.

Had he been beaten?

Yes, but not, not, not wounded, you know, just beaten and...well.

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