Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Harry Praw - June 30, 1982

Life Before the War

Mm-hm. What did your father do?

Most of the Jews in--especially--in particular in Łódź were either weavers--the majority were weavers--tailors, shoe makers, this was a strictly Jewish trade--a strictly Jewish profession.


But, uh...

What--did you say your father was a weaver also?


Uh-huh. Mm-hm.

Life was uh, what? In those days, Poland was a democratic country, I mean, we didn't know any big deals of uh, of course there was anti-Semitism but we were kids, we didn't make too much of a b...uh, a big deal out of it.

But you knew that it existed when you were a kid.

Oh yeah, the Poles, the Poles if they could slap a Jew, they did it. If they could tell a Jew, "Go to Palestine," that's what you heard all day.


Most of the Jewish kids attended public schools, but most of them were in strictly Jewish schools.

Uh-huh. So, so the school you went to was also a Jewish school.

Oh yeah, it was a public school but mainly...


...the students were mainly Jewish. It was in Jewish area, so it was mostly Jewish.


Well, until uh, well I myself attended--I hate to say it--I didn't go more than five days in public school.


I even kid around now that I'm a public school dropout. They are talking high school dropouts, I say I'm a public school drop out, unfortunately.


We didn't have the facilities or the finances as we have here in the United States. And we are at least blessed with one thing: what we have here, nowhere else in the world you can find that.

I think you're right.

Meanwhile, I got out of school. I was thirteen years old and I just had to go to work.


We, we used to own, we used to own our shop. We had a shop.


Here it's called a shop. The shop was in the same apartment.


And the apartment wasn't too much of an apartment. The whole apartment was about the size of my living room here.


But it's funny that it had two rooms, boarded up in the middle. That was a two room apartment and there we, there we had, there we had eleven people.


I mean, it's no sense kidding, that's the way we lived. It wasn't uh, fancy but managed. We tried to survive. And I probably...

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