Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Selma Rich - July 17, 1984


[Go ahead] What is that story?

The story is when ??? went to war and he promised to God whatever he will find the first one near his house on the sidewalk he will bring a sacrifice for God, and this was his daughter who, who uh, met him, the first one. When he came from the war alive, this was the story. My hometown meant to me so much. We had an organization from young children, when somebody got sick in a family, we used to go to sleep over at night, the family should be able to rest the night to be able to care, to take care on the sick one during the day. I belonged to this group. The same time we had a group of children, which they used to run to omnibus, to the bus. When people came and they saw elderly person, comes with, with suitcases we helped him, to take him wherever he had to go with the suitcases. We had the same time a organization from the parents which they helped sick which did not have any money, and they called us bikkur cholim. Means, help for the sick. They gave him some medicine for doctors. For Passover when they didn't had any money for matzah, for meat and wine, those sended in a check which they did not know from whom. It was anon...anonymous not to hurt the feelings of the people. So I have beautiful memories of my hometown.

Do you know what, the street you lived on?

The town was about around three thousand Jews.

How many other people?

I don't know exactly how many were there, Gentiles. But it was the same time, Tartari they called this. Tartari means like more, which believed in the half-moon like uh, Arabs. It was about a whole street of them. Very fine people they were. We used to like very much to go for walks on, on Saturdays there because it was a lot of trees and it was benches where you could sit and talk. It was really nice. But naturally when it came the Russians, everything changed. People got off early to go to the synagogue. They used to pray at mostly at home.

Did the Russians make ???

They did not really prosecuted. They prosecuted only when they found black marketeers. A black marketeer was very prosecuted. But it was no different from a Jew or a Gentile. I remember the first Jew they pros...they prosecuted. They found him, found him to sell onions, because he had a big family, he had not enough food for them. So he had no other way because when before the Russians came, he was traveling to Vilna to bu...to bring for people, you know, like flour, grains, all kind of things, sugar, ??? and from this he made a living. But when the Russians came in, he could not make any more from this a living because this was prohibited. So the only way he could make a living is to go to sell things which it was not allowed. And they send him to jail deep in Russia for five years for selling onions.

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