Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zofia Szostak - 1985

After the War

And uh, in fact, this was out of my hand, because they used diff...they changed the stamp, stamp of, you know um, you don't have this you know, that you stamp the...you know, a seal, you know?

Like a notary's stamp?

Yes. And uh, seal was changed, and it was very, very difficult to, to get uh, this, this, they kept this in someplace, another, another worker got those papers, and she said, "Okay, I get, I get for you those papers, but just, just go, go get lost." This was what she told me, "Just, just don't, don't even come to work. Go because it will be dangerous for, for me, dangerous for you." So I went to this meeting place, you know, where we're supposed to meet and uh, I told him about this. And I says, "Well, I am kind of glad, because I really, I really don't want you to go and leave." So his brother was there, and then there was another, another girl, and we all went, and uh, up north uh, to northern part of Poland. And, like, I, I came from Tczew so, like, between, you know, Tczew is by the Vistula River, and there was a big bridge from medieval times built by Teutonian knights, and was bombed, bombed or, or destroyed in the first days of the war. So we went across, across the River Vistula to where this used to be part of Russia, but this was under, under Poland at that time. And in, they had some like, like boats, you know, which carried lots of, lots of, lots of people, you know, went and uh, we lived for a little while in Sztum. This was um, well, he, he lived in Sztum, I lived in ??? and this is when I got, I got uh, work as a, as a teacher, elementary teacher, you know. For about two and a...two and a half months, or something, three months, this was uh, middle of September till uh, when we left. And then, my husband and I, we met each other, you know, occasionally and uh, teachers had to have meetings in Sztum, so from all the district they were going over there, and they had uh, they had meetings. I know one meeting of the teachers, we were told to teach children uh, about this how Red Army freed us, you know, from, from the bad Germans and everything. And I thought this was very funny and that we uh, were all teachers and Polish people, and we were talking, you know, and they were friends. So I made the remark, and said, "Well how am I going to teach?" And give us, no, give us books first, so we can teach them Polish, because some of those children, they were so Germanized over there, you know, from generation to generation, they were under Germans, and they could not understand Polish. In my class I had children who did not understand Polish. Some understood, but would not be able to read. How do you teach class like this, you know? And we were not allowed to teach uh, teach them in, in German either. Anyways, I would not attempt it because my German was not that terribly good, you know. And uh, so we had to really start teaching them, you know, I was teaching in Polish school, Polish language as a, as a foreign language, you know, to Polish children. And so I, I made this remark, and I said, and then I, I made that remark under my nose, you know, and I said, "Well, what did they really free us from? From our watches? The Germans didn't steal. They, for five years, they, they took this in the first day." So after the next uh, you know, when I left the meeting uh, secretary came up to me, and he says, "Kolega," calling me "colleague" because this is how, how we used to address each other, "Colleague, you know, um, is very bad that you said so, you know, because our inspector, he was just looking and uh, he's going to remember and, you know, he's not one of us." So this is when I found out that, you know, even among our own people, you have to be very careful because uh, you know...And this was, this was some time in the fall and then some time later, you know uh, what they did, when you went over there to those new territories, you had a pick of everything. If you said that you wanted this house, it was empty house because it used to be German, and Germans were shipped, some of them were escape, some of them were killed by, by Russians, you know. So if you wanted this house, you could, you could live over there, you know. Nobody ask you to pay; it's okay.

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