Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Rotbaum Ribo - July 5, 2005

Seeing Father for the Last Time

Let me take you back for a second. In retrospect, this was the last time you saw your father, when he--but from what you wrote, you weren't even supposed to have gone with...

Yeah, that's right.

...your father. Your brother was supposed to go.

That's right. But my brother fell on uh, inside the ghetto, and he hurt his knee, and he couldn't be able continue, so he came back home, and woke me up. And I was very angry, but what could I do? I had to go and help father. And eh, I remember, eh, before I left the house, I said, "I hope I won't be come back alive," I was so angry but I had to go. All chance--nothing was planned. Luck, whatever you call it. Everything that I did was just instinctive, not anything else.

So no careful planning...


Careful planning would've led to your death, probably.

Probably, probably. So eh, I went back to the villages, and eh, roamed around in the villages--in those two villages.

But the last time you saw your father, in retrospect, what, what are your thoughts about that? I mean, you didn't know it was the last time...

No, of course not. Nothing. Eh, father went home, and I stayed behind, and I knew that I would be able to go back and get into the ghetto, as I did many times before and that's all. Uh, I don't think I was eh, old enough to, to think, what will happen, and so on.

And the time--that stretch of time you were hiding in the latrine--in the outhouse. What...


You were hiding in the latrine--in the outhouse...


...what went through your mind then?

Oh, then I was eh, very eh, frightened, first of all. I didn't know what my--what's happened to my family, what--anybody is alive, or not. And eh, what will I do? A youngster--where will I stay? Will they keep me in the villages--want to keep in the villages? I was very frightened at that state. But I felt--went back to the villages, and eh, the people accepted me even more warmly than before, and eh, I was welcome in every one of them. And I usually stayed in houses where there were kids in my age group, and so--and at one stage I also met another eh, Jewish girl from Głowaczów who was also left alone. She was, of course, in another village, not in our two villages, and one day she popped up in the village of Cecylowka, where I was, and she stayed there some time, and one day she disappeared. I didn't know where, and what happened to her, somebody said that she was eh, given up by the, some Polacks to the Germans. Another one that she, that she, that uh, she was taken to dig her own--by German to dig her own burial place, that she hid in a space and ran away, which later when I met her again in Israel, and it came out it wasn't true. She, she...

She survived?

She survived, and I met her in Israel, and she's still alive in Israel. She is about a year or two older than I am.

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