Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Aaron Salzburg - July 24, 1984

German Occupation of Poland

In the beginning uh, in the first year or so things weren't too bad, but then they start to close in on the ghetto and apparently the Germans knew exactly what they were prepared for and every step was calculated. They would take people and move them from street to street, and every time a person had to move, half of the belongings were gone. So the uh, that uh, the morale of the people gotten down little by little, and also physically, mentally, and uh, this was the beginning. Then they started to round up people for labor camps. And the most of the people that were going--the first camps were opened somewhere, somewhere in the, in the east, where they tried to show the Russians that they were afraid of them and they dug trenches--anti-tank trenches--and the people going there lived through--in horrible conditions, a lot of them never came back. Finally they started off to coming and take out the people at night to a factory called Skarżysko, which was a factory jointly built by the French and Polish uh, government. One of the finest ammunition factory in eastern Europe. The people there worked in terrible conditions. At one point they came in and they ask everybody who feels sick has the right to go home and quite a few volunteered to do so. The people who volunteered to go home were instead sent to the gas chambers. We had these i...these uh, ideas that uh, they were supposed to come back to our city, we were waiting for them in Opatów, but they never came back, and we didn't know actually what happened to those people. They also came in from time to time at night. That was the best time for them to hunt, to hunt down people, when people were sleeping. And by the middle, by the--late at night, like two o'clock in the morning they would come out, and take people out in the front of their houses and shoot them right there on the, on the spot. The funny part about this, they did have names. But--and they called them out by names, but up 'til now we don't know from where their names came and what the meaning was of it. Well we tried to figure out who they were hunting or who they were trying to cut down, whether that would be communist, Zionist uh, capitalist. But looking at the names, the personalities being killed, we couldn't figure this out because some were uh, known people as traditional citizens, no connection with communism or anything else. Some poor people, but nevertheless they were called out by names that were hung. They were killed in front of the doors. And by doing so, quite a number of people just had heart attacks just by hearing the firing at night since the city was so small and quiet. And uh, nobody was certain well the next stop won't be me, and so on and so forth.

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