Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Rotbaum Ribo - July 5, 2005

Visiting Poland After the War

Yeah. So this is two years later...

You want to see a picture of Treblinka? That's me, my wife and my daughter who is here with me, in Treblinka. In Treblinka, you can see the eh, stones all around. And each community which was exterminated there got a stone with its name on it. And here I'm standing before the stone of Głowaczów, and saying Kaddish.

But the camp is gone...

The camp is gone, of course. That was in eh, 19...2002, I took my family over, to see that place.

Let me get a little bit ahead. What was it like to go back?

Was exciting. Was eh, memorable.

Was it painful?


Was it painful?

Yeah, especially in a place like this, was painful.

And had you told your daughter of--all this?

Oh, yes. I also wrote what I wrote. I also got it in Hebrew, I wrote it in Hebrew, for my family.

So everyone knew?

Yes. They didn't know everything in particular, but they knew the general eh, layout of my background, and they read what I wrote. And I took them also to Germany, to Sachsenhausen, and to the ???

Which is where you went...

On the death march.

Tell me about that.

And um, I took them to Poland, to my--to Głowaczów and to the villages where I was, and to, to Kozienice, the ghetto where I was, and showed them around.

You went back to Głowaczów?

Yes. I was twice in Głowaczów.

Did anyone remember you?

Yes, was one family that eh, remembered me and I remembered them--actually the daughter of the family. And this family I remembered eh, that my father used to, from time to time, go and sit with the gen...with the man. They lived on the same street that we did and he used to sit with him and discuss whatever, and drink vodka together. And when I was in the, in the villages after the, the, extermination--after I was left alone, I came to Głowaczów a few times. And when I came I went into that family's house and they knew me, and I stayed with them overnight. And, eh...

Do you remember their name?

Eh, it's written, I think--somewhere it's written down. And eh, so I knew that family, at least. Eh, I knew others also, but not so well. So when I--one day, there's another woman from Głowaczów uh, who survived--she was also with me in eh, in Pionki, and she lives now in Canada. She came to visit, and she came to eh, Israel once, and she told me that she went to Poland, and she met that woman that they went together--the daughter of that family--that they went together to school. And that eh, girl asked her does she knows eh, Yos...Yosele, they called me then eh, who came to see us during the war. And she says, "Of course I know Yosele." So when she told me this, I wrote down the name and the address, and when I came to Głowaczów um, I, I met her--that eh, the daughter of that family. And that was, that was 1999, I think. I went with eh, Mala, and Henry, and their kids invited me them to join them. That's the first time I was in Poland after the war. And the second time was in 19...in 2002, when I took my family. And she remembered me and my family then.

So when you, when you met her, what was it like? Was it a very emotional meeting?

It was emotional, it was, of course. I brought with some presents, and I thanked her very much for keeping me during eh, the few times that I was with her family. Her parents were not alive any more, but she eh, she, she brought her son in and introduced me. Was very nice.

You seem to have little or no animosity toward the Poles.

Uh, I don't have much, it's true, because I lived with them quite a lot, and most of them were, were very friendly, very--to my family and to me. Although, I also encountered some remarks of Jews, and so on, but eh, being Jewish, but, in general, I personally carry no grudges.

Well, they saved your life.

Yeah, yeah.

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