Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Herman Marczak - May 12, 1982

Tolerance of Treatment

Yes. Well what was it, do you think, in the mentality of the people that made them able to tolerate? Was it a sense of fear?

A sense of fear. The Germans they, they, they came in with such a fear. They, they made people so, so fearful that they knocked you out completely, mental, and physical, morally, all at the same time. Their uniforms and their, their, their, their behavior, you know. Not like, like superhumans--not like human beings on this planet.

You mean an arrogance?

Their arrogance, yeah. Like I...

They intimidated the popu...

Yeah, you see, if a German--two German policeman came into the ghetto, if they walked, all the other people, the Jewi...we have to, to, to go down from the sidewalk and let them go. Or if people have to go, to go out from the ghetto, out from, from, from the border of the ghetto, we're not allowed to go on the sidewalk, we, we, we had to go in the middle of the street. Or if you see a German officer you have to take your cap and greet. If he was polite to answer then he was a good German. Some of them wouldn't even turn your head, or if you wouldn't do it they would beat you up, you know. Who can--nobody who was there will ever believe what happened.

Do you feel it was because they took one thing away at a time that the people didn't retaliate?

That I--the, the people were not able to retaliate. Only were able to retaliate was the Russian army, the American army. Nobody, nobody uh, without an organized army were nobody able to retaliate agai...except if somebody wants to risk his life and go in the underground, you know. If I shoot you, you shoot me, the people have that guts, they, they were the heroes.

Was there...

But the, the common people, the common people there was no way out.

Was there an underground that you could have joined as a Jew?

No, not in our area, no. First of all, the area was not feasible for underground. It was a very flat ???, a very flat ???, I don't know for how many, many miles. Very few woods.


Yeah. What, that, that area was not feasible for underground activities.

You think a more mountainous...

Oh yeah, that's what, that's what in...

Or wooded.

...more Eastern Poland--wooded Poland that happened, but not in our area...

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn