Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Rotbaum Ribo - July 5, 2005

German Occupation

What were--do you remember what you felt when you saw them come into town?

It was an anxiety, you know, it was an anxiety, because eh, everybody's already--was afraid of the Germans. Everybody. Not only the Jews--especially Jews--but also the Polack--Polish people. It was an anxiety. The first day or two people were told move out of their houses and locked--everyone locked in.

Did anyone say anything about it's the Germans, not the Russians and it could have been worse if they were Russians?

Not that I know...

Nobody said that?


Nobody had--no memories of the First World War?


Was your father in the First World War as well?

I don't think so.

Too young, probably.

Too young.

Um, so they came in and occupied right away?

Yes. Without any--they came in to occupy but the fighting started next day, or next night. There were eh, outside the, the outskirts of Głowaczów, there was the fighting although some bullets hit our house also. But eh, the fighting was eh, there was especially eh, eh, bayonet which we looked from our--from the window from our house, it was an open space. We could see them--the Germans and the Polish unit--attacking each other with bayonets in the open field. And then one eh, while they were already fighting, a car moved into that place, and out came a German officer, and one of the Polish soldiers ran away from where he was, ran to the officer and stabbed him, and he fell on the spot. But, of course, the Germans had the upper hand in that.

And you wrote that they, the Pol...the Polish army won that, that conflict, but they lost...

They lost the war.

Yeah, of course. So when, when the Germans entered, they stayed...

They stayed, they stayed. And, of course, very soon the Jews were, were on limitations for the Jews, not to leave out and not to do all kinds of things, and they caught Jews with um, payes or with beards and--would cut off one side of it, like this.

Did you see that happen?

Yeah. This I saw in front of our house. And others were, were so elated that one side of the--was sheared off...

To humiliate them...


Just to humiliate them?

Yeah, definitely.

You said the Jews were particularly afraid. What had they heard about the Germans that made them so afraid?

I don't know. I can't remember this, but I know the fright from the Germans. I suppose the elder people--they had heard what they're capable of doing.

You, you don't remember having heard Hitler's name?

Not personally, no.

Not, not yet.

Not yet, at least.

Um, what changed? The Germans occupied the town...

What changed was there came to be restrictions of the Jews, of movement of the Jews. They couldn't go out and move freely out of the town. Eh, there were eh, after some time, they couldn't eh, they were not allowed to do business. The market, for instance, they couldn't go. Although eh, in the beginning they still did, but later on they were not allowed. And they could not eh, they had to show the identity that they are Jews, that they didn't have a beard and outlook like this. And after some time, we were moved out from our region of Głowaczów, and transferred to another place, called uh, if I remember right, eh, Mariampol. And there we were put up in very small huts, and...

It was another town?

Eh, a village region near a town.

Did you wear...

Because they wanted this part for eh, training, of the town. And eh, there was a certain part, not all of the Jews they sent out--only from one side,--and we were there. They transferred us to a place called uh, Mariampol, if I'm not mistaken. And eh...

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