Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Josef Slaim - February 7, 1982

Returning Home

Did you ever consider returning back to your home?

I thought so, yes. But--and, and I went back.

You went back to your hometown?


You went back to, uh...

I went back, and I was there just overnight. I got so scared and I run away.

Scared of what?

Of the Polish people.

Now you were scared of the Polish people?

Of the Polish people. Then I said to myself, "If I have only two choices where to stay, where to, to be, if the two choices would be German--and as much we suffered from the Germans--and if I have the choice to stay or in Poland or in German I'd rather take German, than Polish; because the Germans I know it they're--that's our enemies, I have to watch myself." In Poland I was brought up, I was born there, I was raised there. I went mit the, mit, mit, mit the Polish people in the school. I served the Polish army. We worked together. Ev...everything was just like a family. If they could do it to us, this what they did. We lost all the confidence in them. And we got mad and we are mad still today. And I run away from Poland and I wouldn't go back even if you gave me half Poland.

What did you find when you went back to your town?

I found four Jews. Friends of me. And I asked them, "Did you believe that that's all what we got?" and they said, "Well there might be another couple of them--survivors. But they're still not here. But the ma...majority you cannot expect." I asked if somebody saw anybody from my family. No. I--this house, what I told you about, I went in, in--I opened the door--I knocked on the door. I come in and I said--I introduced myself. I said, "Well, I am the son from the owner of this house." Do you know what they told me? "Get in the hell out from here, you son of a gun, Jew. Why you still living?" I went in, in another room. I introduced myself again, I had the same answer. I said, "The hell with house." I run away. The tenants--that was tenants from our house.

Was your furniture still there?

No. People--strangers--it's not the same tenants what it used to live before we left.

I see.

Strangers who--nothing--nobody. I didn't know who...

Your family owned the house though, before the war?

My father owned the house, yes.

You never heard about your family after...

No, nobody's alive. I heard.

How did you, how--what did you hear?

I heard some--like my father went with a transport from Czenstochow. They run away to Czenstochow. Czenstochow was a bigger city, so uh, larger community so, they always believed it's a little safer, you know. There was one day, they took a whole transport Jews, and somebody--a cousin--I have a cousin in Toronto--he told me that he saw him. They took the whole transport and it was Erev Yom Kippur and they took him away to Treblinka. And, you know--we all know, in Treblinka you just got--maybe uh, maybe a handful survivors, not more. Maybe four or five survivors.

Okay. So you left Poland.

I left Poland and went back to Germany.

Okay, and then what?

Well, in Germany...

Did you go back there with your brother by the way, or was it just yourself?

No, I went by, by myself.

Okay. Your brother stayed back there at, uh...

No, my brother was also by himself once, when he came back. Everybody tried, you know.

So he came back to, to Poland, too.

Yes, and he was there for a, for a day and he run away.

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