Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Helena Manaster - December 9, 1983

Escaping from Camp

So he opened the door with that key and it was winter time and still dark outside and we were so badly dressed. We opened the door and we just--and we had those Polish documents and we just ran. The first place of course of where to go was to that man who gave us the key. He was uh, very sympathetic. He used to give us some food during the months we were in there. We ran there. First of all, they gave me a babushka and a coat and something, because I was hardly dressed and they said, "Of course, you cannot stay here." So we just start walking. We walked and walked for hours. There was snow on the ground, we took off our--those emblems, the Star of David and we had um, some other signs for that factory--it was arm ??? and some numbers and we put everything under the snow. And we walked and we said, "If somebody will ask us, we will pose for a merchant, we are looking food." That was very common. People came from cities to the villages to buy, because there was a shortage for everybody for everything. So we came to a village, we didn't know where we were. We just walked ahead of us. We came to a village and we went to a house. It ??? it was a Polish house and we said the same story. We are going to buy some food; we didn't have any money to buy food. We rested there for a while. And uh, that man, we didn't know why he was home. It wasn't a Sunday or Saturday, but he was home. It was wintertime the religious don't have much to do. It was noon time already. From six or seven o'clock in the morning 'til noon we were already a half a day walking fast. We were sitting in his house and he went out and came back pretty soon and he said, "Something, peculiar happened in that camp, supposedly a doctor and his assistant escaped from camp. They are looking for him." So we said, "We have nothing to do with that doctor, we don't know who or what it is." But he said, "Just to be safe, I don't know who you are anyway, so you just go." He gave us information asking us to go to that train station and he gave us information. We went to the train station, walked another few hours. We came to a station. It was three o'clock in the afternoon and wartime was a train once a day. Nobody knew the hour when it will arrive. So we were just sitting there and waiting. There was nobody there yet. We were the first one to arrive. We were sitting in a corner waiting for the train. And pretty soon people start coming in, also waiting for train. Whoever came after us, told stories about th...that hunting for the doctor and every...everybody was checked and each person asked the other one, "What could it be? Why--did they check you?" That was the whole thing. They surrounded the village, mostly with dogs running around. They didn't come to the station. The station was outside the village...

I see.

...so they didn't think of it, we would be in the station.

But you heard them?

We heard what they were doing, that they were looking for us, but just to sit there for a few hours, the train came at six or seven o'clock in the evening. But 'til then it was a full--what do you call it? Uh, waiting room, in the station, people who came in, everybody, it was going on for hours, checking everybody. They were crazy, they were so mad that, that they--that we escaped. There were so many policemen, how could we escape? They couldn't find us. It was just like disappear under there. But the train came, we boarded it and we went a different...

I see...

That was another world. We are not anymore ourselves, now our names, we took out of papers.

Do you remember the train ride?

The train went to Zamosc back to that place where the ghetto. But for us it didn't matter wherever it took us, just to go out from that place fast. And Zamosc was another bad experience. Before we left uh, for a ghetto and then out the ghetto, we left some of the things which our cousin left before he left the ghetto, ghetto. His friend, the Ukrainian friend--that man thought if he came to us to give us back those things. So, it was--we arrived there, he wasn't home. His wife took us in the middle of the night. When he came, he was very angry and he said, "If you don't go out right away, I am going to denounce you," but he didn't. He just told us where to go to the station. We went took again the train. And we went back on the same train, again that uh, that ??? on the station where we were waiting all night before. And I saw through the window, those policemen still standing with the dogs and probably were still looking for us. But we went to that train to Kraków, really I don't remember how many hours, but on the train, there is again, German police came in and they were checking. But they didn't suspect anybody to be Jewish or an escapee. I think they were just looking for food, but how could I know? And they were checking me all around and looking for something. They want money.


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