Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Peppy Rosenthal - July 1, 2009

In Hiding II

Let...let me take you back just for a second. You said there was a...a hiding place in the house...some boards that lifted. Did you ever hide in there?

In...while, while we were with the Kovalczyks? We would come in and warm up, and maybe stay a couple of nights in the real bad wintertime, you know.

But you, that means you slept under the floor, you slept under...


What was that like?

Dark. And cold.

Do you remember being frightened all the time?

Yeah, but I knew what to do.

And you knew that because your parents had...

My father had...

Pretty much trained you.


What...so you did all this moving. Um, were you concerned about your mother at that point? Did you think she was still alive?

I can...I thought that maybe after the war--you know, she was hiding someplace, and she'll come back. But after awhile...My dad said, told me like, he wouldn't leave Rozhishche unless he knew that my mother was not coming back.

And at...had anyone spoken about the killings of Jews at that point? Mass murder?

Um, there was a cemetery that they were talking there was a lot of Jews killed and buried there.

And no, no word of mass graves and people shot and mass graves?


You didn't hear about any of that?

No. And you know, when I think back it's like when the adults talked, you know, they tried to, to talk about uh, what's gonna be like in the future, and things like that. Um, more upbeat than, than sad and--and I think probably some of it had to do because of the kids, you know. They didn't want us to be more frightened than we were.

So there were two children in, in hiding?


You and the son of the partner...

Yeah, and, and, and at the Kovalczyks. But then we separated when Mr. Kovalczyk was murdered, we separated. And I don't know where they were.

And you said you, you went to school, but you would go, you wouldn't...

In, in Danzig.

And, and why wouldn't you stay in the school?

There were too many Germans.


And the Russian soldiers, they helped me. You know, they covered up for me, like they would know when my dad left the school, and I would go into a cla...I didn't know how to write, read or anything. Then when we came back to Poland, the nuns, I met some nuns, and they taught me the alphabet, and how to write, or read.

Another convent?

I don't remember so much if it was in a convent, but they didn't push uh, catechism on me, or any religion.

So did the Germans harass you, the German children? Did they, uh...


But you just...

I used to make up that they did.

Yeah. What was it like hearing German spoken?

Ah! I...now that's why I couldn't stand it. And the Russians were so sympathetic to me.

So you've had good experiences with the Russians.

Oh yes. And the Catholics.

So now you're in Danzig, and what made your father decide to, to leave?

They, they loaded a um, a train full of merchandise to take back to Łódź, I guess to sell at, I don't, you know. And it never came back. We got to Łódź, but the, the, the trainload of...I mean, it wasn't just one car, it was several cars full of whatever. And I don't know where they got it. I don't know if the Russian soldiers helped, you know, took it away from Germans and...

So who, who was "they" who loaded it? Who was in charge of that?

Well, my dad and Jack's brother.

And Jack's brother. So that's what they were doing.

I don't know if they actually loaded it themselves, but it was their train.

It was their, their train.

It was their train. And um--I've never talked to Jack's brother about that. We...I'll, I'll have to tell you when was the first time I actually talked about this. So then from Łódź, we stayed there for a while, and we did decided--I keep saying "we" --my dad decided that, and Jack's brother, that they're gonna move on south, and maybe go to Israel, or whatever. So we traveled as, as Greeks. And at the first border between Poland and, let's see now, we were in Czechos...in the Czech Republic. We were in Austria, and in Italy. So at the first crossing, we ran into some Ukrainians that we know, and my dad said, "No matter what they say to you, just pretend you don't understand, and don't open up your mouth." And that's all, you know, he needed to say. And we um, we traveled as Greeks.

By, by "Greek," you had managed to get Greek passports?

I don't know if at that time you really needed any, I don't really know if we needed any passports or not. But then from, from Poland, we came to the Czech Republic. Now there, the Russians raped a lot of women and girls. I don't mean, I don't know about children, but young women. And my dad put all the furniture against the door of the hotel where we stayed so they couldn't break in to, to our room. And from the Czech Republic we went to Austria, and there we had to walk from the train to Vienna. The train let us off like in the country some place, and we had several days to walk to Vienna. And then we stayed at this hospital, and then we stayed at displaced persons camp, and that's where I first met Americans, was in Vienna. We stayed there and in Salzburg, and from there we went to Italy, and we lived in Italy for five years. And...

Where, where in Italy?

Um, we lived in um, in, in Rome, in the...movie, where they made movies... Cinecittà? And Santa Maria, the Bari--in, in Bari we lived. We lived in the mountains.

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