Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Emanuel Tanay - March 16, 1987

Outbreak of War

Do you remember where you were when the war started?

Oh, clearly. I remember it very vividly, uh, I, in fact, when the war started we were in Miechow and there was a party in my house in my parent's home for the Polish military who were in our town. Their high-ranking officers because they were setting up the defenses when the war broke out. And I remember clearly that the officers revealed to my parents that there would be a retreat up to the River Vistula and then no more. That'll be the real defense. And my parents, based on that information decided to go east and we started, we abandoned our home, that's in September of '39 and tried to go across... uh, go east and escape the advancing German armies. We never succeeded we spent maybe few weeks in this effort maybe two weeks maybe I don't remember exactly and then ultimately we returned.

Had you or your parents heard anything about what was happening in Germany, were they frightened about the invasion?

Oh, there was a tremendous fear about the war, the fact that the Germans would be coming and we were certainly aware of the anti-Jewish measures in Germany. If fact, in our home, lived an engineer from Germany who was expelled because he was, his parents were of Polish backgrounds. You know that Hitler expelled all the Jews who were not born in Germany or whose parents came from the east. So we were pretty much aware of what was happening in Germany, but you see here, one has to make a distinction between the extermination measures, if you will, and the measures that were simply persecution. Polish Jews were very much accustomed to being persecuted, oppressed. Sure that was a little more, but it wasn't all that different.

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