Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Water - 1982


Can we go back now? Just before um, you said at one point you went to Warsaw, at the beginning of the war...


With your family?


Um, and that you came back to Łódź, but you, you had left your family in Warsaw.


Uh, how large was your family?

Okay. My family consisted of seven brothers and sisters, young parents, and countless aunts and uncles and nieces and cousins. I once took a, a count. At lea...I lost at least 150 people of my family. My two brothers went to Russia--the older brother and the younger brother went to Russia. He wanted to take--my older brother wanted to take me. I says, "No, I'm gonna be the oldest now. We're the boys. Someone has to take care of the family."

When was this?

This was 1939. When he came back, he was a soldier. He came back from the front. He was a POW. He survived, he came back. He got--he married his girlfriend, and he wanted to take me to Russia. I says, "No, I have to stay with my family." So he took my younger brother. My younger brother survived, he came back. The older did not. My father died of starvation four weeks before the war ended. How did I find out? When I left Warsaw to go back to Łódź to buy some food--because I was afraid if I returned, I couldn't go back--my father went to Radom, another city, to work, to be able to sustain his family. He couldn't go back. And he had a, a, a brother--a half-brother, rather I should say. I had met him, in 1945, a day after the war ended. I went to War...to Radom and he told me, "Your father died four weeks before the war ended." So he starved to death. Now I had--one sister had four little boys. Didn't survive. The other sister--the younger one, had a little girl. She was born when the Germans were already in the city. And another tragedy involved my sister. I'm getting--I get--I'm getting a little choked about it, but I'll try to do right for her. I was in Warsaw with my family. My mother, with the two daughters, remained in Łódź. My mother, she remained in Łódź for two reasons. One was that my sister was in the hospital delivering a baby, the younger one. And the older sister had four little boys, and one little boy fell into a tub of hot wash, and his skin came completely off his back. So he was sick, they couldn't travel. So my mother remained with the two daughters. Then the doctors and nurses, for some reason, abandoned the hospital. And my dau...my sister was taken home from the hospital prematurely, and she hemorrhaged. I had a friend who came from Germany. His mother lived in Germany for quite a few--some time, and she spoke in German. She took a, a big chance. She took her life into her own hand. After curfew--after five o'clock, she went out in the streets for a doctor to help my sister. That lady didn't survive. And sadly my friend didn't survive either. He was in the ghetto. And in Łódź, you see--a part of my past. Besides, my sisters were in Warsaw. They didn't survive. Everybody died. I don't even know where they are, or where they were buried, or where the ashes are strewn, somewhere. Majdanek or, God knows, Treblinka. This was the part that I went to Warsaw and came back to Łódź. The beginning we had mail, so I sent a letter to my sister and to my mother. So she answered me--she couldn't answer me--letter--of course, they stopped it--the mail. So a lady, who was blond, smuggled from Warsaw into Łódź, food. My sister gave her a letter, which meat was packed in it, in Jewish--written in Jewish, and a little ring--little diamond. She sent it to me, and this was the last letter and the last information I had from my family. She said to me, I should sell the ring and buy some food, which I did, which the food didn't last too long. The inflation was very high in the ghetto.

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