Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Felicia Shloss - February 9, 1983

Jewish Life Before the War

How many Jews were there in Piotrkow?

I guess--I talk later to people, because when I left there I was a young kid. There--it could be 25,000 Jews. It was uh, once upon a time it used to be the capitol of that area, like Lansing here. So it wasn't a very small town, it was uh, Poviatovy Miasto like uh, how to you say, "poviat"? It was a Poviatovy Miasto how do you say that?


A district. And it was--they called it Piotrkow Trybunalski. It was a tribune there. They had uh, it was a very old city. They had um, a wall like in the medieval time--like the ancient times.

And in Łódź, do you know approximately how large the Jewish community was?

Oh yeah, there were about uh, 200,000 people ???

And a total population?

The total population was, I believe was the 600. And during the uh, everyday, because people--business people used to come from smaller towns and buy the textiles there, there was probably over a million people in Łódź every day before the war.

When you moved to Łódź , do you think your father may have wanted to move there to avoid this anti-Semitism?

In Piotrkow--there was the same anti-Semitism--no, he probably had a better offer because it was a bigger city.

Did they have more non-Jewish friends there?

Uh, I had more Jewish uh, non-Jewish friends in Piotrkow than in Łódź.

Did they come to your house?

Yes um, my mother invited them for dinners, like for uh, Friday night dinner. They used to come. My father had colleagues being in the printing...

So they would eat at your house.

Yes, they did eat...

You told me they like gefilte fish.

Yes, my mother supposedly made very good gefilte fish...

When you were in Łódź um, what kinds of uh, activities did you and your family engage in? Were there any kinds of uh, entertainment that you went to?

Oh yes, it was a big city. We had operas coming in Jewish theaters. It was uh, bigger city and big libraries, and big uh, it was a very cosmopolitan city and it was run by the Jewish people, I believe. The styles, the fashion--Piotrkowski was like, here, other Fifth uh, how do you call? Saks Fifth Avenue on Livernois, it was of the--it was one run by the Jewish people.

And you and your family all used to attend Yiddish theater? The...

Yeah, my parents, yeah, my parents, yeah.

Do you remember any of the things you saw?

In Piotrkow?

Or in Łódź.

In Łódź, in Łódź . What did we see? They used to come, very famous people. Doctor ??? Kruk used to come and lecture very often. I, I believe he was still alive after the war. He was a philosopher. What did we see? Jewish theaters--Dzigan and Schumacher--you heard of them? They were two comedians. And all the Dybbuk I saw uh, ??? how do you call? It was like the book uh, it was, it didn't end in death. ??? We were allowed to see pictures, and I saw a lot of pictures.

Movies, you mean?

Movies. Every Sunday, every Saturday we went to the movies.

American movies?

Oh yeah, we saw uh, with Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times, I saw. I saw Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, Mayday. What else did I see? Charles Boyer was a lot uh, one of the beloved and Pola Negri. My mother said that she went to school with her--she met her some place. She's supposed to be from Poland. Pola Negri.

The name--that would make sense.

Yeah. And uh, Escapade with Pola Negri--no, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer, I believe, was it?

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