Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lola Taubman - December 22, 2009

Munkacs Ghetto

Was the...was there a distinction made between, already between Jews and non-Jews in the...

Oh, definitely.

Right away? I mean, you didn't, you didn't wear stars right away?

We wore stars, yes.

When was that, when was that instituted?

After '42.

So before it was just, you got less to eat? You...

Up until '42, we still had food. My father still had merchandise in the store. And, you know, he sold grain that they took in the villages and milled it. Is that the word?


Yeah. And uh, we still went to shul. We had a shul, which was a little more progressive. And we had a bet ha-midrash. So my parents belonged to this midrash. And we still celebrated holidays as long as we could. But when, when the Germans came in, as we were taken away, they took the Torahs and threw them outside. They took the rabbi and his whole family, I mean every person was taken away. At first we were taken to the shul and we slept on the floor with boys and girls and men and women, just one night. And then we were taken to the station and put on, on uh, uh, you know the, the...

Daughter: Boxcars?

Boxcars, yes. And then we went to Munkacs and there it was a so, so-called ghetto. It was a uh, brick factory. You heard about it? Agi mentioned that brick factory. There was one main building, we were lucky enough to be there. We were in a building where they used to dry the bricks, so there was only a roof and, and posts holding up the roof. So the, the blankets that we brought you just, I don't know whether you tried to cover ourselves with or, or make, make walls that the wind doesn't blow us away, uh...

This was in 1944.

Forty-four, yeah. We were there. And Agi happened to be in the same brick factory when I was there. There were two in Munkacs. So half of Munkacs was taken in one and all of, all of uh, Svalava, they were bringing them little by little. There was uh, I had a classmate whose mother was in the United States, but the father was with them. So they beat the father every day to find out why, why his wife or their mother went to United States. And there was one little building where all the sick people went, whether they were blind or, or had an illness. And so we tried to--we found a little kitchen and we tried to cook some potatoes for the sick people.

Now how did they inform you that you were going to be moved from your house?

Move away from Munkacs?

No, from...


From Szolyva.

Who--the local people came and said, be ready in fifteen minutes. People who did business with my father, they were our customers.

So they gave you fifteen minutes to get together?

Yeah, or half an hour. I don't...

So what did you do? What did you decide to take?

We grabbed whatever we could. A blanket, a coat, shoes. Uh, we didn't have--we didn't travel much so we didn't have many suitcases or backpacks.

And what did you think was going go happen?

Uh, we thought we were taken in a camp where the men are going to work. We didn't imagine that the women are going to work. And uh, uh, then when we, we arrived to Auschwitz our big question was how soon will we see the men. We didn't know that they are going to be killed. When the train arrived we asked what are those flames. They said, "Those are bakeries." These were the old inmates that were there a long time.

Who met you, who met on the platform?

Yes, they said, "Don't worry about the suitcases. Just jump off and walk."

Tell me about the train trip.

Horrible, horrible. People were screaming, there was one uh, tin, tin can to relieve yourself, but you never could get to it, there were so many people. Some people told me the other wagons or in other cars people lost their mind and were screaming, and some were dying and, uh...

Did anyone die in your car?


Did anyone die in your car?

No, no. But, you know, they were in, in neighboring village there were Jewish slave laborers and they brought us bread before the train left from Svalava and, and the Germans pushed them away. "Don't give them anything." It, it was terrible. You know, there was a little hole that you could look out and when I saw that we left Slovakia and we were headed for Poland, headed for Poland, I knew it was not good. But before we left, my parents had a friend who was originally from Poland, but he was an architect. And he took me aside, he said, "Lola, you know, the Germans would not do in '44 what they did in '42. Don't worry about it. They're not going to harm you."

Did anybody say anything about the Germans in World War I?

There was no talk about. My, my, my father was in the military. He was a, a, a, a prisoner of war in Italy.

In the First World War?

First World War.

Because some people said it's the Germans, not the Russians, how bad could they be?

The Germans?

It's the Germans, not the Russians, how bad could they be? They were more worried about the Russians.

More worried about the Russians than the Germans...

Than the Germans.

Right. Do you know when we, when we were still home we were so close to the Russian bombers. I was in my friend's house and we could hear the bombers come and she was a very good pianist. So she played Liszt and the closer the noise came the harder she played. And then it was too close, so we went under the bed. We were so close to being so-called liberated by the Russians and the Germans managed to take us away.

What month was this that they took you?

It was uh, the day after Passover, April or...

April, yeah. And by September they were done.

Pardon me?

By September they were done.

Yeah. Uh, you know, this family that I--the girl that played the piano, they came from Poland because he was a chemical engineer and we had a factory in our town and they needed an engineer. So these two girls came--they, they didn't know Czech, they didn't know Hebrew, they didn't know Hungarian, only Polish and German. So they joined our school and they learned that they were very good. I have some pictures of them.

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