Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zofia Szostak - 1985


How did you feel, as a young person, with all this excitement going on?

For me this was really exciting, you know, it was just in the beginning, you know, just shortly before the war, this was something...I never really believed that there, there will be a war, you know. I never really believed. And uh, but all of this was a little bit different, you know, and God forgive me, I was even happy that maybe school would be closed, you know...usually open uh, September the 1st you know, was a big time, when those few days before, we are going and buying, buying all sorts of books and preparing. But this was supposed to be something different, and uh...but then, you know, we started seeing uh, people coming in trains, they all were going to east, to south of ??? was just--you know, and some of our friends were being mobilized. We could not go, just like, get in touch with uh, Auntie Szostak, from, from eastern part of Poland already, and uh, things like this, you know. And then we heard that some people were cut off from, there were some Scouts from, from Wieliczka, went to the camp in eastern part of Poland, and they wanted to come back, and they couldn't. We don't know really what, what has happened with all of them; some of them came back later. And...

Wieliczka was?

Wieliczka, this was between Bochnia and Kraków; salt mining city...

It was a salt mining place?

Yes. And closer to Kraków, though, you know.

OK. It was not yet a labor camp, Wieliczka?

No. Do you know, I, I heard you saying about the camp in Wieliczka...I heard about labor camp in Płaszów, I didn't hear about Wieliczka.

I think in the mines, and...

And this was so close, may...maybe they used them, I don't know.

Did, at any time did your parents think that they should go east? Did it ever occur to them?

We wanted to go over there, to, to Ciotka Szostak, because she owned the land, and to us this was, somehow it looked, because it was rather uh, far away from, from big town. And uh, to us it look...since it was out of, out of the way, it will be safer. And just about when, when war broke out, we had this uh--you know, 'cause, just shortly before the war, for one reason or another, this was out of the question. Oh, even for this reason that I had, I was assigned certain duties, you know, either railway station serving water or coffee to people, you know, 'cause they were coming the in the wagons, there were thousands of them, and uh, come by train. And we had to feed them, maybe somebody, you know, Red Cross ladies were making some sandwiches or this, and uh, were giving this out. So we, we stayed during the war, and I remember, early in the morning, like day, day before, we couldn't sleep very well, and we stayed for a long time, and then my father uh, woke up early, and I wanted to know what was going on. And he told--so I got out of the bed, and my father says, "Look, Sasha, look at those, you know, some, some planes are coming. What is, what is going on?" And at first we thought that they were Polish planes, then they were coming closer, and we saw those, those ???, you know, on, on this, and they started bombing. But um, besides some few houses, not very far from the railway station, no house was really, our, our house was not, not touched at that time. And uh, so okay, this was my very first, first impression, was I think about five, five, six o'clock in the morning.

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