Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rita Rosenzweig - March 24, 1983

Joining the Underground

How long did you stay with this um, um, is it Mrs. Maréchal 's sister?

Mrs. Maréchal 's sister. I stayed 'til um, well, I stayed there for a while, and then I went in hiding further, because of her son joining the underground, so I couldn't stay there either. So I went to a city of Wagram, in some little farm. And that's when I joined the underground, because then they give you food. You know the underground will give the people so much food. And uh, all I did was um, carry ammunition from one city to the other for the underground, for the men.

How old were you at this time?

Uh, I was about fourteen, I think.



And what had you heard about the underground?

Absolutely nothing because everything was hush-hushed! I mean, you know they just uh, you--they just didn't take just anybody in, you had to be--but in my case they knew that I was hiding, so they knew I wasn't going to go to the Germans. You know, so I automatically joined um, because of the, the sons that were already in the underground. So what I did is they would go during the night and get, um, ammunition was coming from England, dropping by parachute. And the men would go in the middle of the night and get the ammunition and they would take it to the farmhouses. And so, the girls came in then at that point and fill up their bikes. And we took him from to the countryside from one city to the other. Well, you know Belgium is not a big country, you can go from one city to the other on your bike. And the men would go first, like, you know, about a 100 uh, oh, I would say about 200 feet um, before the girls. And we followed them. If the German patrol came and stopped them, then we would just uh, throw our bikes in the field, and you know either keep walking or whatever, you know. So they were the patrol, really, the men. But we took uh, ammunition from one farm to the other, and one city to the other, you know, all by bike.

Can you tell me something more about the underground group that you worked with? About how many people were involved?

Well, you know, we all--they all have different um, things were very hush-hush. I mean, you know they're really--you didn't talk unless you had to. Let's put it this way. Uh, the men used ammunition to um, it was a big--a lot of, a lot of um, you know, exactly I really couldn't tell you. But I, um, the men would use ammunition, ammunition to blow up um, uh, station, railroad station, where the Germans were coming. All, all kind of things that um, could uh, stop the Germans from going and any kind of damage, let's put it--where they could kill the Germans, that's what really they were after. So, I wasn't really too familiar with what was going on. I only heard things when um, there was explosions, German killed, or they were trying to save some people in the underground that was taken already, you know, that were tortured so they were trying to bring those people out. But uh, once they caught ya, that's that--most of the time they were shot right there and then. And then they knew you were in the underground they didn't even bother, they just, you know, shoot you right on the road, I mean, you know, they take you in and they torture, but um, there was a few that was killed. But I--but we were really--nobody worked in their own area. Most people were in different places where nobody knew them. You know, and it, it was very--it was mostly done from farmhouses and, and countries and the fields, you know, and the woods, so people were mostly hiding in the woods. So like I--I know I used to go in the woods a lot because a lot of times the Germans would search house to house, so we used to run out of the back way, and hide in uh, in the, in the woods, and come back the next day.

Was there a central location that you had to return to?

No. I was just in a, in a private home, and the underground was giving 'em eggs and butter, I mean just, you know, to feed me. And whether they knew that I was in the underground, I don't know, because nothing was done from their own house. We were taken to a certain farm, fill up the bikes--it was like about four, six girls. And we would just drive, you know, like we were in school. And drive together and take the ammunition to um, you know, electric powers, you know what they have, the main powers. There was a man there, and um, we would just uh, give him the ammunition and he would store it there you know, and so--whether he was working for the company, I don't know. So I have no idea, you know. But the men--with the, the, the hardest work, you know. The girls was just taking messages, so you know, from one place where they had hiding. You know, the farmers hid a lot of underground people. It was mostly not, you know, not--I guess there must have been some in town, but I wasn't in town, so I was in the country.

So you received a lot of cooperation from being...

Yeah, you get a message--yeah, you never met the, the, the big man. You know, it was always a messenger that would come and give you--tell you, "Well you go there then, and you go the certain place, then they'll tell you what to do."But there was never nothing written or anything, everything was oral.

How about when you first decided to join the underground--how were you received?

Well, I really don't, uh, you know, you're really not received. Uh, you just, um, someone just came and say, "Here, you go there and there"and that was it. I mean it is uh, there was really no meeting place--maybe the men did have a meeting place, but they really didn't want to get the, the girls, or the woman involved in those things. You just uh, I think men might have met someplace, I really don't know 'cause I was, kinda young, and I was--they were a little bit worried. Because they, they wanted to have people, men or people um, very mature, so if they are caught, they--I mean, more or less will not talk. But being so young like I was, I mean they probably couldn't--they really didn't know how I would really uh, you know, really react. And you know, in, in, in a very--in bad um, circumstances, you know, so really they were very, very careful, they were. There was never--I mean, like I said, never nothing was written, it was, everything was from mouth to mouth.

Were you ever assigned other duties?

No. Mostly ammunition.


Because the men, they didn't want their--'cause men, they stopped--you know, before they would stop the woman, you know, young people, they just most of the time let them go. Especially girls.

Did you have any contact with any of the members of your family during this period of time?

No. Uh-un.. I didn't know um, where nothing or nobody was, because everybody was just scattered around, you know.

How about the members of the underground that you came in contact with? Did you have any knowledge about the camps where people were-

No, no.

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