Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Emanuel Tanay - March 16, 1987

Escape from Monastery

Okay, why don't we stop for a moment with you having escaped from the monastery...[break] Can we continue with the story, you escaped from the monastery in the middle of the night?

Yeah, I recall when I left the monastery was in the early hours of the morning and I... Mr. Godumski happened to have been in the monastery at the time and he and I went to this village where Stephan Yagojenski lived and he took me there. He, I recall the positive being the church, in the village church, he told me to go and pray, you know like, and he went to see Stephan and then this Stephan came by, and I was kneeling then and sort of praying and he just walked by and looked at me a few times, came around put his arm around me and said, you can come with me. So you know, he came and sort of over looked me over if he was gonna do it or not. He decided yes, and from that point on, for a time, I lived with him. I don't recall exactly how long, because you see he lived in this village himself illegally because he was a member of the Polish underground and his name, he lived on a false name himself, his name was Jan Schmalitz, because he was involved in a sabotage in his home town against Germans and there was, you know, there was a, an award for capturing him. So he lived in this village working in the, on the village organ, the church organ, which needed no repair, his father was a manufacturer of organs. So he was himself and when I lived in that village, somehow it became known, they recognized or whatever, that I was a Jew and he was informed that because you know a village was in danger if they found there was a Jew hiding. Sometimes they would burn the village. So, he was advised that I would be denounced and both he and I left the village and went to another place, and another place, and another place. So there were, you see, living on false papers, or Aryan papers as I did, was a constant struggle. You know, every so often events would happen that required help of others, resourcefulness of one's own to survive, I mean, I would be on a train let's say, and somebody would recognize me, who had known me from the town, cause it wasn't all that far, I mean, and would yell at me. You know, "this is the Jew from Miechow." I would jump from the train. Or there would be other, there would be for example roundups of people in Krakow where I, where they would round people up in order to take them to Germany. Poles - for labor, forced labor. But before they did this, they would take you to a shower, where they took you to a shower as a Jew you would be recognized because only Jews were circumcised. You know? So, you had to escape from that. I mean there were innumerable events like this. There was a constant succession of such events, you know, I recall being in a another village and the police coming to get me and I escaped through the window. So...

This was Polish police?

At that time it was Polish police, yes, there were, oh I had number of encounters of Polish police. See, one problem with being a Jew on Aryan papers in Poland was that Poles would recognize you sometimes, even someone like myself who had all the advantages in terms of language, customs, remember by that time, I could pray, I could, you know, when I first went to the monastery I was fairly familiar with Polish prayers but not really very well. But by that point, I certainly was much more familiar, but even then you would sometimes be recognized.

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