Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Munkacs Ghetto

So the ghetto that you're describing was, was that the spot that they were narrowing the Jews down to...


or was that more that, where you would say the brick factory?

At first, at, at first the ghetto consisted of this particular part of the city where all the Jews had to live. And the final ghetto was this particular brick factory from where they transported us to uh, the concentration camp.

How long were you there in that brick factory?

Approximately a week--ten days, something like that.

And the other ghetto?

Um. I really don't remember, prob...probably maybe a couple months, maybe six weeks. It wasn't very long period of time.

Uh-hm do you remember what, when you were in the ghetto what life was like? In the larger ghetto I'd say, rather than the brick factory.

Well, we were able to continue pretty much uh, as we did before except in a much more confined uh, area. And uh, of course uh, it was much more difficult to make a livelihood. We more or less had to exist on what you had. There was a lot of barter going on just to keep things going. And uh, we didn't have uh, we didn't have the availability perhaps of as much food as we had before. But uh, we made do.

Were there any schools in the ghetto?

No. We weren't in the ghetto long enough for that. A...actually, well I was out of school by that time. And uh, as a matter of fact uh, at that point uh, uh, no, the children no longer were attending school.

Were there any religious practices in the ghetto?

Yes, they continued the same as before. They were uh, if, if uh, if uh, there was no synagogue available in the immediate area, you just make a uh, service in somebody's house. But the religious practices continued. The--those were not banned. I'm sorry. I hope I'm not blocking you.

No, just that one time, I think, no big... Do you know if there was any smuggling into the ghetto of food or anything else?

Um, yes. Uh, as a matter of fact uh, when, when we finally um, were herded into the uh, brick factory, we weren't prepared to stay there for any period of time and whatever food we took along was soon gone. And uh, so we lived--the general population of the city would come around there with, with food and they sold it to us at some absolutely exorbitant prices. And people would give away their wedding bands or whatever currency they had, they would buy food for it. And mostly that's how we sustained ourselves.

Was there any resistance in either of the ghettos?

There was no reason to. Nobody uh, nobody felt that there that uh, as a matter of fact we thought as soon as that, we're going to be taken away from that particular ghetto things are going to get much better. So there was no reason for any resistance. Not with the information we had.

You wouldn't know the size of either area or the amount of people that were in it, would you, in order to give a...?

Well uh, our population in the city as I said, was uh, we had about  sixteen--we had roughly a little over 16,000 Jews. And approximately I would say in the surrounding area probably at least that much or maybe a little more. So I would say probably we had maybe anywhere from thirty to 40,000 people that went through that particular brick yard in two weeks.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn