Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Rotbaum Ribo - July 5, 2005

Escaping Pionki

How did you manage to get out?

More or less the same way that I came in. I went to work in the morning. We marched through the--was forested, also, that place--from our barracks, from the camp where we were living. We were taken by cars through the forest into where the factory was. On the way were lots of bushes and eh, forest eh, trees. And at one stage, I looked where I see there was no guard in the vicinity, I just slipped away and went underneath, under the bushes, until everybody passed by. And from there, I went into the direction of the fence, and there I looked again how to get out, and I got out, and walked back to those two villages. And after a week, or less than a week, I came back. And eh, there--that same head of the police eh, he had to make an account for why didn't I go to work? And now he put me into a--it was a, a closed eh, hut, in order to give me a beating, for, for running away. He did it for, for other eh, ???. But after a day in there, he released me, and I didn't get any beating.

So he didn't...

He didn't, no. And then I went back to work.

Was there a Blockälteste?


Was there a Blockälteste? Somebody in charge of the barracks?

Oh, yes.

A Jewish prisoner who was there in charge of the barracks?

Yes. There was, there was. And at eh, certain hour everyone have to be inside, and eh, lights out, and so.

You--while you were at Pionki, did, did you wonder what was going on with your family? I mean, did you...

Oh yes. Always, always. And once--especially about my father, 'cause my father, from the hour he left, and he--until he reached Pion...eh, the, the ghetto, it must have been already early in the morning--maybe beginning of eh, of the morning. And I don't know 'til today whether he succeeded to penetrate in back into the ghetto, or maybe he was caught and shot on the way, I don't know this. I don't know till today.

But--you didn't see them at the train, did you?

No, no.

You couldn't...

No. I didn't. And I asked other people from Kozienice that I met and from Głowaczów that were in the ghetto and survived somehow, whether they knew, whether they heard, but nobody, nobody heard.

But not many survived Treblinka, so...

No, no.

Um, how long were you in Pionki?

In Pionki I was eh, until eh, September '44. Then at beginning of October we were eh, when the Russian, eh, Russians neared to Poland--went into Poland already, the Germans decided to move the factory from Pionki to Germany and to establish the same factory in Germany and they started to dismantle the machinery to be shipped to Germany. At a certain stage, there was no need to work anymore so people stayed in the, in the camp, without going to work. They only took every day about 300, 400 people to dismantle the eh, machinery and other product, put them on the train wagons, and send them--they were sent to Germany.

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