Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Rotbaum Ribo - July 5, 2005

Life in the Ghetto

So, did you go along with your father?

Usually my elder brother would go with him one week. He would go from Sunday evening, and eh, come back on Wednesday or Thursday, depends how much he collected food to come back. And one week, I would go with him. And eh, what you did eh, back in the ghetto, we would collect--father would, would pay the people that give him stuff with the food, and some of them with money, and collect again enough things to take next time. And next time I would go with him.

And when, and when you were at home, how did your mother deal with your brother and your father being gone?

Listen, there, there wasn't much to do. We were in the ghetto. She--all she had to do--whatever she had to do to prepare the, the food for us, and in that time, already, she gave birth to eh, our youngest eh, her youngest son. After father returned from the camp, she was...

What did you think about that?

Oh, it was eh, pleasant, was very nice. Eh, somebody--play around with some...

But, there, there wasn't enough food to begin with...

But eh, it was part of us, was part of us. And eh, because my--we brought in food from outside, from the villages, we had more food than others.

Ah. Milk?

Milk eh, right, it was my, it was my job to bring in milk into the ghetto from a Polish family in Kozienice 'cause I was blond and I could eh, somehow get out and intermingle with the Pole...Poles...

This is for your little brother?

For my, my little brother, yes.

Um, the ghetto in Kozienice--was there any interaction with the other Jews...


...or was everybody isolated?

No, no. Of course, we lived in eh, very close--two parts, divided--the ghetto was in two parts, and in-between was the main road going to the eh, train station. And so, to pass from one side to the other, there were gates with German or Ukrainian eh, guards. So they made sure that you--that eh, hours when it was open--at night they locked them and couldn't pass from one side, side to the other--that you'd just pass from one side of the ghetto to the other side. But once, when you looked--when you stood nearby the gate, and many Poles passed by on a Sunday, for instance, when there was a lot of--they were free on certain days. And if you wanted to intermingle, you just went out of the gate when there was a big group of Poles passing by, and just stand and continue to stand.

But you, you could...

I could.

Because you--I think you were blond, and blue-eyed. Um, what about the other family, that lived together with you?

That was a woman with two kids, and she had, she had no husband. She was a neighbor of ours in Głowaczów, also. And um, we managed somehow. I don't know. We managed to, to live...

Was there ever any tension?

No. Not that I know. Not that I remember.

That's a lot of people to live in two rooms...

It was very congested...

How many people in a room?

Three or four of us. Eh, four of us slept in one bed. Father and mother in the small kitchen in the second bed--only had two beds. Was not a space for anyone.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn