Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Krystal - September 19, 1996

German Occupation

Were there, were there German ordinances passed at this point?


Was there, was there a ghetto already?

It was not a ghetto, but it was a Judenrat and uh, they treated the whole area as a kind of a Jewish ghetto, but not, not walled in.

You didn't go to school?


Uh, rat...food rationing?

Yes, I, I think there was food rationing gradually established. I and uh, but most of the time, yeah, I'm, I'm sure that there was food rationing on, on important items, like bread and other things.

And how was it living, living there with the rest of your family?

Well, that first winter it was very bad because my aunt came, came home from Łódź with her husband and her son and uh, they became sort of the favorites and I was out. And so it was rather difficult for me. Uh, but uh, in, in general uh, the, gradually they were establishing a pattern. Uh, the area was apparently under uh, the jurisdiction of some Feldgendarmerie uh, the, like supposedly the equivalent of mili...military police. But they would come uh, at least once a week when there was a uh, a marketplace and the farmers would come in and bring, bring things, sell things and buy things. And they started increasingly to uh, kill people and uh, uh, sometimes at random, sometimes at the flimsiest uh, excuse, like if you were running or if you uh, they, they started beating you and they would just do it until they killed you. And uh, also they started taking people to various work camps and various work projects. And also the Judenrat then got organized and they were trying increasingly to develop local work places so that the people wouldn't be sent away. Uh, and so they worked whatever they could figure out, various uh, assignments on the roads and maintenance and things like that. So there was increasing pressure for slave labor and for control and diminished food. And then they sent in a transport of Jews from the city of Plock, P.L.O.C.K um, which was in northwest Poland. And that means that uh, the local Jews had to take them in, into their own homes. Uh, and uh, we, we got especially squeezed with, with that apartment up there uh, so that there was, there were three rooms and we, we were evicted from the large room into a smaller room which had a little kitchen and the other people were going through it. This was not a kitchen, it was a stove kind of uh, an iron stove. And uh, it was uh, [pause] increasingly also dirty and uh, and lice were starting and then we had a typhus epidemic. And uh, both my mother and I went through typhus uh, and my mother again became much weakened by this typhus.

Do you remember the lice?

Yes. Yes it was, it was a uh, a uh, terribly humiliating experience. It was a, it was a, a feeling of degradation.

These experiences were, do you think, were common to the Jewish population at the time?

To most. Except the, the, the few very wealthy maybe.

People in the Judenrat.


Uh, was there, a ghetto was created in, in Kielce, right?


Were you sent into the ghetto?

No, we were actually never sent into the ghetto. And the ghetto in Kielce was uh, until fairly late not a closed ghetto. You could get in there and you could get back out. In fact, my mother sent me there once, by horse and buggy. Um, I, I was staying there with my, with an aunt and uh, she was, she had two children, one was my age, a daughter and a, and a son a little younger. Uh, she, my mother sent me there I think because she felt she was coming down with typhus and it took me a little while before I got the news that she was taken and put into the synagogue where they established a kind of an isolation for the people with typhus. And uh, so I came back and of course I, I was not allowed to go in. I just waited outside. And uh, she survived it. She was uh, hospitalized there with a great aunt who did not survive.

Had you already had typhus at this point?

No, I think I got it later.

Um, so you came back to and what, what transpired there? How were your grandparents responding to all this?

Well, they, they were also in big trouble themselves. They, they, they really, my, my grandparents and their two single daughters uh, for awhile they were living downstairs. Then my, the uncle and aunt with their son came up for awhile, then they went back down and by going back down they were all compressed together, so they didn't have to take any strangers in. They didn't have much room in there. So they actually, from the point of view of the housing, did somewhat better. But they were just as badly squeezed uh, financially and food wise and with the danger of going, getting caught and, and being sent to labor camps.

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