Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Water - 1982

Work in the Ghetto

Can I ask you something about the ghetto, now, in Łódź? Um, were, were you originally in the ghetto district--the--was it the Bałuty district?


Is that where you started?

Yeah. Bałuty was the uh, was a um, a part of Łódź, which was designated for the ghetto.

Do you know why--any idea why they picked it?

Because it was the poorest section, maybe. That's why.

Were there, were there a lot of Jews living there?

Yeah. The Jewish people--the poor Jewish people were concentrated in that particular part of the city, Bałuty. The only Polish people that lived there were the janitors. It's a fact. Janitors. Very seldom you could see a non-Jewish person live in Bałuty. So maybe that's why they picked it for the ghetto. And then those people who lived outside Bałuty, they were put in...into the ghetto. We had to share our apartments, or certain apartments were taken out, emptied it, and the other people moved in, and they moved in with other families. Now I worked as a shoemaker. One incident is worth mentioning. I was in charge of fourteen girls. Eleven singles, and three married women. Why was I in charge? I was a good shoemaker. And then, material was very scarce. We made house shoes, out of rags. So some woman pieces the rags together, made soles out of it, and the upper makers were sewing the uppers, and we stitched together those house-shoes by hand. So to me it was nothing, to stitch with two needles--we had to put two needles with, with, with the twine--thick twine, and then after it was sewn together in--a last, it had to be cut around, finishing it. So I taught those ladies how to make the house-shoes, and I was the finisher. Because I was the finisher, I was entitled to an extra soup. The people that worked for me got only one soup, and I got two soups. One day, I didn't receive that extra coupon for that extra soup, so I complained, and nobody could do me justice. They said, "We haven't got any soups to give you extra." So I took the two knives--a long knife and a short knife--a shoemaker knife--and a little board I used to keep on my eh, knees, to finish the product, and I put it away. I took a book, and I started to read a book. Now we had two ??? it's a code in German. Or rather they were managers. One was a manager of all the shoemakers, his name was ???; the other was a manager of all the upper-makers, or in Polish ???. His name was ???. So once--when one guy comes in, he says, "Moshe, what's wrong with you? Why don't you work?" I says, "Look, they took away my, my soup. They give me the soup, I'll work." I didn't know the uh, the expression they use in America, "???" I didn't use those--that expression, but I says, "No, no soup, no work." He says, "You in the ghetto, you know what you're doing?" I say, "I know what I'm doing." So he walked away. He didn't bother me too much because they knew my, my father. They actually had the respect for my father. So the other guy comes in, ???. He says, "What's wrong with you? Don't you know that you're in a ghetto? You're supposed to do your job?" I says, "Look, I'm hungry. I'm supposed to get another soup, and they don't give me the soup, I not gonna work." He says, "Well, you're in trouble. I cannot help you." I said, "I never asked you for help." Ten minutes later the chief cook, or bottle-washer, I should say, Mr. ???, who was the commissar of that factory, called me down to his office. He was a handsome man in a uniform. The uh, insignia on his hat was a chef. I cannot explain--maybe a chef would be a se...a sergeant, maybe, or maybe a lieutenant in the police. I should say a lieutenant.

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