Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zofia Szostak - 1985

Before the War

Was this after the war began? Before the war?

No, no, no, no. This was be...before the war. And uh, what's happened, this was lots of things were written about this uh, in the papers, and also lots of talk about this in uh, in uh, in Polish radio. And from what I know uh, this was the same when in England and in France; they knew about this. So what happened, there was a big tri...transit railway uh, you know, tracks, you know, be uh, you know, between Poland, went through uh, through Germany, and uh, to France or maybe they ended up in Spain some place. And uh, some train, by accident, stopped some place, you know uh, between, between towns, in the, you know, just like in the open, open field, they had to do some repairs. And people, all of sudden notice there were uh, on another just like trucks, you know? There were other uh, trains, where this was just like uh, train for, you know, for the cargo? Except people were over there, but they were closed, we call this ??? you know, you could not open this, you know? And uh, then uh, some, some terrible smell was, was coming from, from this and the people started getting interested in this, "What, what's going on?" You know? And what it, "Where this screaming comes from?" And some people said, "Tell the world, you know, what is happening over here. We are, we are dying and we are being taken to, to some, you know, camps," or whatever, whatever those people said. And uh, so then this was uh, this was a big discussion about it in the, in the press, you know, later, and questions were asked, you know, what, what was really going on over there? And...

Do you remember when that was?

You know, this was in 1937 or '38. I don't, I don't remember exactly, there were other things happening, you know, and...

You spoke German? You understood German?

Yes, but I should have spoken very well you know, before the war, because I come from the northern part, and over there you pick up, if not in school, you pick this up on the street, you know? From-- everybody spoke two languages. I didn't, and I had to learn this later in, in gymnasium, well, for, for about four years, and then when I went to uh, the ??? school, this was from 1940 to '42, in Bochnia, we had to learn, and later when uh, we are passing exam, you know, had to be done in two languages. And afterward, when I was in Germany, of course I could, I could communicate a little bit, you know, but only if I had to. And now, maybe something if I read would understand just, you know, just uh, out of my head.

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