Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rita Rosenzweig - March 24, 1983

Arrests and Hiding

What did you do now that you were back in Liège?

Okay uh, we came back, let me think um, I went back to school. I, I--and uh, things kind of rolling fast. Uh, my aunt, my younger aunt who lived in Brussels was arrested, because she was on the way. We had to wear the, the star. They gave you the star, so she was not wearing it and was arrested. So my uncle, my mother, went to Brussels and got all her furniture and everything out because she, she told them, "I'll probably never get out." Being she was the first one that was arrested. And um, then my--we had--they had--we had to register all--all the Jews had to register in the community. And then my mother decided that um, we were not allowed to go to school then. They, they stopped us. Then we had to go in by eight o'clock. And then they started, they sent out papers to all the youth. I think they started at fifteen to go to Germany. Fifteen and up. All the, you know uh, all the singles, I think. And my uncle was single, so he had a paper to go. And so we went to um, to the, to the station to say goodbye to him but he wasn't there. Uh, at the time he was going with a shiksa. So, she--they decided to hide him. He decided not to go. But most of the young people were there. I mean, that was terrible. I mean everybody was crying and--but the kids, you know, there was singing, you know, Jewish uh, the Hatikvah ???. But, it was a terrible scene, it was just--I mean you know, when you put your kids on the train to leave and you saw they were going to work. And uh, my mother then decided to go the committee and said that I ran away. She said, "I don't know where my daughter is, she ran away."So they took my name off, because the Germans came and they said so, you know, "every man, so every week we need so many Jews."So what they did is they gave a list of what--the one they have, you know the families and whatever. Well, they started with the young people, and they started with the men. But then this way my mother was going on the open market with this um, couple they ha...they had their uh, place next to each other, and my mother said, "I would need a place for my daughter."She said, "I would like someone to adopt my daughter she's--in case something happened."And so she went to a lawyer, and the lawyer said, "It has to be someone who doesn't have any children."And this is how I ended up with um, the--Miss Maréchal was their name. They were Hu...uh, protestant, you know, Huguenot. And this woman says, "Well, I know someone in church that have no children. She plays the organ. She's English and he's Belgian. I'll talk to them, and they said "yeah,"they will adopt me. So my--they went through all the procedure of being adopted. But when I got, you know, we have an identity card in Belgium, you have to carry when you turn fifteen. What they didn't realize is that when you're born in Belgium, from Polish parent, or whatever nationality, you know, you're not automatically Belgian. You have to go through uh, nationalization. And so they gave me um, a yellow card, which was for foreign people. And they put Polish on it, with the name of Maréchal which was a little bit uh, worrisome. But I mean they--you know, I, I only remember at this point what it wanted. Anyway, I left from home, and I went to their house for three months. After all the procedure went through. Uh, then, I went back to boarding school under the name of Maréchal . So, the head um, woman there, you know, knew all about it, so she, you know, let it go by. And so I went back for a few months until my mother was arrested. Well my dad was arrested in forty-two, and he was sent um, I think to France, so they say. But you know, you never know. We got a card from him, from Buchenwald later on.

You did?

Yeah. I don't know how that could happen, but anyway. Then I um, went back to boarding school. My mother went in hiding. About a street away from where I--where these people lived. 'Cause she didn't want to leave town because um, she had no money to live, so she was selling a few things, you know she had to--you know, I mean--to give me to eat because even though you were in the boarding school, you didn't get enough to eat you know you had to subsidize a little bit of food. And in '43, in July '43 my mother was arrested, with her sister--my, my aunt was taken from the factory. She was working for the Germans with her husband, and they were both taken, and she jumped off--I don't know how--she jumped off the train and came back, and was going to my mother, but one of the Belgians that were with the Germans, recognized her. Because the main um, uh, German police, you know, with those--the one with the black uniform they wore those...

The SS?

The SS. Their, their main place of uh, business, was led by my boarding school, which was uh, on the boulevard. And ??? at that time I remember just walk--we had no cars--uh, that much trans--they were afraid to get on the, on the bus, because you know, the Germans would stop you. So they--you walked, and while she was walking, someone recognized her from the old neighborhood, followed her, and then, they both were arrested. My mother was arrested in July '43. She said uh, at that time then this lady, Madam Maréchal came and got me out of school. 'Cause then--because what happened is--my mother--you don't think I get the had cloth--once a week I would give my dirty clothes to my mother, she would wash them. So she had most of my clothes, and she threw them out the window, and she says, "Take them to such-and-such an address."Well, the Germans, you know, went to such-and-such an address, and they were looking for me, so they put a gun to the--to this man's head, and they didn't, they didn't find anything because I had no clothes or anything there. My clothes went directly to my mother. And uh, she got me out of boarding school, and then from boarding school then I went to her sister, which was uh, a Flemish town by uh, Brussels. Meanwhile, my mother was uh, a month in jail, in Liège.

Were you able to see her?

No, you wouldn't dare then, you know, because it was in '43, it was uh, what she did, my uncle told me she--in a matchbox she dropped, you know, through the window, whatever, and some guy brought it over to my uncle, and somebody that works in the jail. And so she was asking for a few things, and I don't know, you know--mostly pads, I think she--I remember. And um, I went to my uncle, 'cause my aunt had a store, 'cause she was not Jewish. So she kept the store open. And uh, my, my uncle was hiding, you know, so he was um, I um, really didn't know what to do, to tell you the truth, it was uh, my uncle already was taking care of my cousin, that meanwhile came back to--he was hiding already. And here he had me on top of his head, and we really were in--I mean such uh, um, it was devastating. I mean, I mean, you just didn't know where to turn, it was just, uh...so I went to her sister, and we--I stayed there for a while. You know, I was uh, told people it was a relative. And it's very hard in Belgium, because in a small town, if you, you see a foreign face, right away they ask question "well, who,"you know, "what."But then their ch--their son came back from the army, too, and they joined the underground 'cause they had papers to go to work to Germany, even though they were not Jewish. So they went--joined the underground, and I followed, you know, and, uh...

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