Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mark Webber - December 13, 2004


Did you ever experience any anti-Semitism in, in Pułtusk?

Anti-Semitism was um, everywhere. I remember um, there was a period of time--it must have been a couple of years before the outbreak of the war that uh, there was uh, a boycott of Jewish merchants, and there were some--the uh, the word um, "pickets," uh, was uh, the first time I heard. And uh, what happened is we didn't have any employees that picketed, but there was standing two rows of Gentiles in front of our store--at the entrance to the store, and every time that a Polish was trying to get in there, they told him "Don't go in. Don't buy from the Jews. Go and find yourself a um, a Gentile store." But uh, I have to tell you that these same pickets, when nobody would see, they would sneak in through the back door in the store and, and do some buying. But my brother was telling that when he was going to school um, he always carried a piece of iron bar uh, to defend himself, because the Jewish boys were always beaten, beaten up by the Gentiles. And at the time that I was going to school--as I mentioned earlier, we had already at that time a school which was exclusively only for Jewish boys and girls, so we didn't experience any of the problems. However, when you came--when come into the government uh, sphere, if you needed to do anything with city hall, you would experience considerable anti-Semitism. They would have you wait longer, or things like this. All these things I don't know from my own experience, it's only what I overheard from my parents or from other people talking about it.

So there were political discussions at your house? Would people talk about what was going on in...

I don't remember any political discussions except, of course, in the thirties uh, if my memory goes back uh, there were always discussions about the um, what was going on in Germany. Hitler had come to power and, of course, we had a radio, which was a very rare thing. We had a radio in our store, and the--could hear the speeches of Hitler and, of course, being Jewish and German uh, almost was a uh, so close together, so we were all--we could all understand what, what Hitler had up his sleeves. And uh, so we were, we were very much concerned about it, and yet uh, nobody felt, at least to my knowledge, that um, uh, we were so much endangered. Even if the war breaks out um, which I don't know if I wanted to get in yet at this point into that uh, period but um, there was an awful lot of depression. People were depressed by hearing what was going on--the Kristallnacht in Germany, and um, uh, the acts of terrorism on Jews, and the Jewish people uh, tried to go out and they couldn't get out after a certain period of time, they couldn't take any of their possessions or things from the bank, so. All these things, of course, created a climate of uh, of fear in Poland.

Were there any German Jews who came as uh, refugees to Pułtusk?

I don't recall any of them coming into our town. I was aware, though, of um, of that particular fact. I think it was in 1938 that um, Hitler of course um, threw out--practically threw them out across the border. The Polish government did not want to let them in, and I know that there was um, uh, um, money collected among the community people to help these uh, refugees and to settle them. Uh, subsequently learned of uh, how they were distributed to some relatives, because they originally--many of them came originally from Poland, and all that. But it was a really dreadful kind of experience.

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