Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

George Vine - July 5, 1983

Relocated to Ghetto before going to Auschwitz

When was this? What year?

That was I think in the beginning of uh, middle 'forty.


Or maybe end of 'forty, maybe beginning of 'forty-one. Uh, we came...

And sound like--how, how did they choose the 1,000 families?

I think that this was chosen by the Jewish uh, uh, uh, federation. Or the, the, the--every city had like we have here in the community; a Jewish community was set up. The Germans set up uh, the, the, the, their own leaders and some of them leaders prior to that. And they were executing the affairs of--for the Germans what they wanted to do. And then they went over to them, they said, well, we gonna move a 1,000 families out of here to another town, to a ghetto, and you come up with the names. And they came up with the names. Uh, they picked my father because uh, they knew where we gonna go and they wanted to set up a kitchen, organize a kitchen so that--there was not enough food to go around and since they felt that my father was known in the community and that if, if he'll ask, if he'll ask certain people to pitch in money, what have you, that they will give him because of his reputation. And that was, as I found out later, why my father consented to go. He could have not--he didn't, he didn't have to go, he didn't have gone, but he went voluntarily with that 1,000 people. I understand that they asked him before. In our city, on the outskirts of the city, maybe a mile out from that square where we met there was an old fort. It must have been a thousand years old. A, a, a, a uh, uh, historical--the roof was gone but the walls were still pretty strong. And they had a gate which was probably just about that size right there that you went in and you went out.

Three feet wide?

About three feet wide. They all--and then they had a big gate that they locked in. They opened up the big gate and they pushed everybody in there. And to show an example that we should obey, they picked up, at random, five Jews the most distinguished Jews in the community there and they hung 'em right in front of us as they were sittn' there with the machine guns trained against us with the dogs all around us. Uh, automatically, you, you had paralysis set into these people, seeing what's happening there and everybody went right into the fort. In the fort they told 'em to drop everything that you have, don't take anything with you. And all of a sudden we're hearing terrible yells and screams, horrible things. So here I think the nightmare began. The unknown what--why do people scream? We find out what came out next. Everybody had to go through that door and they stood on both sides with clubs and they hit you over the head, just an exercise, simple exercise. I suppose that it was all trained, again, the process of systematically uh, breaking down your defenses here, scaring you. Uh, all of a sudden they put you in shock; the idea was to keep you in shock all the time. It is extremely for people to realize that it was planned to, to, to uh, uh, uh, uh, medical research uh, that, that how a human reacts. And it was all planned to keep you in shock, by keeping you in shock you were the least to resist. And these people were in shock. And of course I got hit over the head, my father got hit over the head, my mother got hit over the head, but finally we made it, we pushed through. But it was a catastrophe, like a fire, you trying to get out and here they stay there, and from, you afraid to go out and yet you have to go. Put us on trucks and it was within fifty kilometers took us in to the next city where there was already a ghetto. And they put us into that ghetto. Those people living in that ghetto had to make sure that we have enough food; so again, the same thing. So they had to now share their portions with another thousand people, us. Of course uh, yet, the Jews planned. They planned that my father could be there and within two weeks uh, uh, we were given a little apartment, a little bit better than the average people did because a half of it was the room was put right over the kitchen. My father immediately organized uh, cooks and he went over to the people who had a little more influential, you know, some people always have some money and they traded and what have you. And he says, we gotta have money, we gotta feed these people because we gonna have uh, uh, people will die immediately from starvation. Gotta do something so they set up a kitchen and at least one a day, once a day, people were getting a bowl of soup with bread. So at least you couldn't starve. And then you had a little something.

This was...

In the ghetto that we were taken into.

What city was that?

That was called Nystut. In Polish, Nowe Miasto, new city it was not a new city. That was the name of it, Nystut, Nowe Miasto.

You had already then, seen five Jews hung for no reason?

That was right there, yes. That was the first hanging that I've experienced and shooting. They also shot a couple of people right there also. That was the very beginning of actually experiencing a, a, a killing which was just beyond comprehension. We couldn't just believe that this could happen. I think this was the beginning of the really fear setting in there.

And this was two years before you went to Auschwitz?

That was about a year and a half before. We just must have happened--we went to Auschwitz in October 1942, and this must have happened maybe uh, sometimes 'forty-one. So that was about a year and a half, a little bit better than a year and a half.

And was this uh, ghetto one that was uh, walled in...


Or barbed wire...

That was barbed wire with guards standing outside and Jewish guards standing inside and that was the real ghetto.

And how many people were in there?

Was several thousand, several thousand families because that was a smaller town than ours. So we were 5,000 people, I would assume there was maybe, 3,000 people. And maybe they had another 1,000 that went in before us that must have done the same thing and then they put us in there. So it must have been a, a, an area for maybe 2,000 people and there were 6 or 7,000 people at the time. Conditions were terrible uh, again, I have not experienced hunger because again I was with my parents and, again, I was in a place where the food was being made there. So there was no want for me for food again. But a terrible thing happened there. A typhus epidemic broke out. And they were dying just, everyday you saw people dying in the streets. And I got typhus, typhus. Again because my father was a little bit in the position that I was one of the fortunate to put me into the city hospital which was out of the ghetto and of course, I survived. But the fever, once the fever broke--but indirectly that typhoid probably saved my life in Auschwitz because when you get through with typhoid your appetite becomes so severe, so strong, and I ate a lot. And these were just about the times when I was in that time about thirteen, fourteen and this is when you can eat a lot of food and I had the food. And because of being sick and because of my appetite being increased I, I became very strong. And ate and, and, and didn't have it bad. I didn't have to work there; I didn't have to do anything. So again I was having a pretty good life compared to the rest of the people were. People were starving or, not really starving, nobody starved in the ghetto. I should emphasize that because among the Jewish people who have been able to farmers to--somebody would smuggle themselves out and bring in food and what have you. So you sold your shoes, and you sold your shirt and you sold your pants and you sold your, whatever you had, you know. And people who lived there still had more than we had. So there was trading going on and uh, and the people from Ciechanów, our town, would smuggle through money, they would send in money for us. People that could--there was never a ghetto there, remember, they were free. So there was enough of everything there although there, they had their uh, killings here and there but, nevertheless, they still lived in that Ciechanów. Uh, so they had more than we did and they send in money for my father to be able to cook and, and create a kitchen and what have you. And so starvation was not happening, was not going on in that ghetto 'til the very last minute. Typhoid killed the people. That was a terrible thing, typhoid. And various different uh, um, uh, probably new laws were coming into the ghetto but there was nothing drastic, as long as you adjusted yourself to a certain life it was like a, like a temporary living. You knew something is gonna happen, you knew that something is gonna happen but you just didn't know what. But, people were coming in, getting smuggled into the ghetto. And there still various tales where they taking Jews and they tell 'em they gonna take 'em to camps, and you never hear about them. Again, the leadership says, don't listen to these people, they're telling you lies. Uh, we will be taken care, we will be working and we'll survive and wish you wouldn't make such, uh, uh, to do about this. I recall these little incidents.

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