Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Peppy Rosenthal - July 1, 2009

In Hiding

Before they liquidated the ghetto, the Germans had been shooting people. Did, do you...

I don't remember them shooting. I remember my father collecting money from, you know, gold pieces from different people, and paying the Germans for more food or, you know, for the people that were in the ghetto.

So you didn't hear any rumors of people being taken into the woods and shot?

No. Later, though, but not, not then.

So now, you're living, you're being hidden by this couple...

Just for a few days. Then they put us in a wagon and covered us with straw, the three of us: my father's partner's wife, their son, and myself. And they were taking us to the country, where my father was. And I thought, well maybe my mother found him, you know? And that's where she is, is with him. But when we got there...

She wasn't there.

She wasn't there. So they left us there, and um, they dig out from under...there was like hay and straw against the barn. And we dug out a, um, like an entryway, and made the straw and hay hollow, so five of us could get in there.

Like a tunnel.

Well, and it was round, so we could sleep there and stay there, basically.

So this is you, your father...

My father's partner and his wife and their son.

So there are five of you now.

Yes. And we stayed with those uh, people, I don't know how long, but I know it was one winter for sure, and it was a summer, because I remember being very cold. And at night we would go outside, and every so often he would bring us um, gasoline, and we would take um, a bath, with, you know, wash our hair and kill the lice, because the lice used to crawl on my face, and everywhere, so that was really a holiday. And he would bring us food, but sometimes when they were short of food, we would just get the potato peels, and the peels from um, beets, and eat that.

And you're still sleeping and living in this haystack?

Yes, Uh-huh. And he would bring us bread, and my father took a straw and he divided it up into five pieces, and, and we would try and save it, even if it got moldy we would still eat it, because that's all there was.

Do you remember this man's name?


And he and his wife were, had hid you, hidden you?

Yeah. Mm-hm. And they had children too. But he was killed then, and we...

How was he killed?

He was riding his bicycle um, from Lutsk, with the newspapers and stuff, and they don't know if somebody um, hit him for his...if he had money on him or if somebody just...if the Germans did it. We never did find out.

But you, you, they found his body?


And he, had he been shot?

Um, I don't know that.

So what was it like on a sort of day-to-day basis for you? You're now, what, seven years old? And you're living under these terrible conditions. What was...

Well, um, I spent a lot of time thinking what it would be like, what would it be like to be able to run around, and hear kids, you know, and par...participate in play. [interruption in interview] I dreamed a lot of what it's gonna be. I used to wish that I would have--I had three wishes. One was to find my mother, and that, I always thought that someday I would find her. The other one was that I would have enough food so I can feed other people too, and I spent a lot of time imagining what that would be like. Um, when Mr. Kovalczyk was murdered, we had to leave there...

What was your third wish?

What was...to feed other people.

So to feed other people, to find your mother, and...

That was my number one. And have enough food for us, and have enough food...

For other people.

Yes. Mm-hm.

Yes, so after he was murdered?

Um, we had to leave there. One night, before--you see, they also had a hiding place underneath some flooring, inside the house. But we didn't stay there very long, maybe sometimes in the wintertime, we would come in to warm up at night. One night, we came out of the hole, and they found a, a man um, from underneath the straw and there was a man in the barn hiding too. And my dad and his partner lied to him and told him that we were just there for the night, and because they didn't want...It has bothered me ever since, it's been on my conscience, because they didn't want another person there. And I don't know whatever happened to that man. He left, and my dad and his partner pretended, you know, they were leaving too. I was very dis...both of us um, their son, who was the same age as I was, we were very disciplined not to cry, not to make any noises. Sometimes we would hear Germans coming by, you know, with dogs and stuff, and just...God knows how we weren't found out.

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