Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zofia Szostak - 1985


Let me ask you just a couple more things. You said, you said you still thought about it, and sometimes you, you saw people hung...uh, you told me the other day you saw people shot, bodies burned...

Yes, mm-hm...yes.

Are those the kind of things that uh, that you recall most?

Yes uh, but you know, just like I said, for every day I try not to think about this, because you think about this, you will go mad sooner or later. But then occasionally, even though I was not in a camp, I was not in a ghetto, I dream, and this is just like I am there, you know, and I am one of those who are supposed to be shot. And I wake up screaming, you know, all, all, all in sweat and everything and so this, this is, you know, uh, then for a few days I am thinking about this, you know. And then my ??? she ask, "Grandmamma, are you in one of your bad moods?" and I say, "Yes." Just, you know.

Let me, let me ask you one last uh, maybe a difficult um, question. What, what are your feelings about relationships between, well, as we said before, Pol...Polish Jews, Polish non-Jews- uh, what the church did or didn't do um, during the war?

Now uh, people the people that I know only of, you know, my, my friends and everything, they felt very, very sorry. Now if somebody from, there must have been, who, who was helping, you know, but we did, just as I mentioned, we did not talk about this. I found out later, you know, only after the war, that some, some priests, some nuns uh, were really helping, you know, uh, they were helping. Now uh, it was not, not too much, probably, because just like if, if any of our own people, if they wanted to hide, they would not be able to hide uh, you know, ev...everywhere. But people were, were really sorry, they were shocked. And believe me, now, this, this is not uh, that I am just, just trying to, to make up, you know, whatever was uh, political affiliation of, of other people, because we had parties who, who consider Jewish people living in, in Poland, that they were, they were just, just like everybody else, because well, they were like everybody else, you know? And they supposed to have the same, the same rights, and, and uh, in fact some of them were even in the army, some from what I know uh, in our uh, government, some, some of the members uh, there was a lot, quite open talk that they were, they were Jewish, you know. So but some, some probably were, were against, you know, some parties were against, you know? And this was, this is also uh, open, you know, open question: why they were against, you know? But those, the same people, you know, uh, would face my God. Now, okay, why I don't, you know, they, they felt sorry, maybe for their, their own feelings of, of uh, resentment, or dislike, or whatever, you know? Their ignorance. Because you know, you can't, you can't really witness something like this and not, not to be sorry. Is not-- and even if they were, they were really strangers, you would still feel sorry. But they were not strangers, they were people that you used to know, you know? You, you used to maybe go and buy maybe over there, or things like this, you know? We were rubbing our elbows on the, on the street, even if, if uh, we were not invited to their places and they did, and uh, maybe they were not invited to our places, most of the time, you know, because while it was part of a society, we just lived in, in, we lived also in our small ghettoes. Don't forget a ghetto often is a state of mind too, you know. But they were, they were just like, uh, you know, the higher, I would say uh, the higher education of people, you know, and uh, if they were on different, you know, higher, higher level, maybe richer or something, they had more contact with Jewish people, they knew them better. And you know, this is when uh, when I also say, if you, if you know somebody, you can understand that person. If you can understand this person, most of the time you cannot hate this, you see? But if uh, people are being kept by their own prejudice, or by custom, or by who knows what, in a way of life of a given society, if they are kept apart, you know? Then, then you never come to know each other, and this is where is a room for prejudice and, and, and all sorts of things. So I was not too much contact, but uh, those people who have contact with them were sorry. And uh, I know somebody who really never, never really uh, had, you know, much, much use for, for Jewish people uh, before the war, you know. The same person said, "My God, I, if I, I feel, I feel sorry and I feel ashamed," you know. But this is, I can only say about people that I, I have known, you know. And uh, I, I am sure that there were some who helped a lot, there were some who did not help. And in that book that I read, and this is written by one of the leaders of, of um, Polish, Polish Underground ???, he point, he, he is stating this point-blank that there were people who not only did not help, but they were, they were making big business, you know, of uh, really sponging Jewish people and making a fortune maybe on, on, on this, and later giving them up. Uh...

Is there anything else you want to add before we finish?

What I could say that maybe...Jewish people and Polish people, why they would be able to really come to know each other a little better. Do you think this would be possible?

We have a good start, anyway. Thank you, Mrs. Szostak.

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