Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mark Webber - December 13, 2004

Life Under German Occupation

What did you think when you saw them?

Well, I was overwhelmed uh, because the mood was very depressing, and uh, my family--we lived only like--we had only one room, or one and a half rooms, so we had uh, uh, there was uh, five uh, seven of us living and was here with a small little baby, under a year old. So we had to go out um, every now and then, and procure some little milk at least for the baby, and uh, try to get some food. So um, we were always were afraid. Main fear was not that uh, that they were going to kill anybody, but they were--they, they would grab people--men or women--adults and uh, for to do some menial work, like sweeping the streets, or uh, digging some trenches, or whatever like this. And we were very much afraid of this here, and we tried in the immediate neighborhood to scrounge up--we still had some money, I guess, that we brought along from back home uh, to sustain ourselves. And two or three days after the Germans came into this town, my brother, my father and my uncle came by foot to us figuring they'll take us back to Pułtusk, because there's no point being for the Germans--under the Germans away from home, we may as well go back to our home. So again they rented two uh, wagons, and we um, we loaded up, and we started off again. And every day, around five or six o'clock--five o'clock I think in the evening--was a curfew, we had to pull off the road, and uh, stay there all night, until um, until the morning. And um, one night, it was raining a lot, and the baby was crying and a motorcycle's coming towards us, and there were three German soldiers. One was an officer. And um, and they had those attachments to the motorcycle, so they had three people in there. And uh, we were tightened up, fearful. And the officer came out, and um, he wanted to see the baby that was crying, and they showed him the baby and he said, "Come on, follow me." And he took us off, with the wagons to um, to a, to a village which was right nearby, off the road, and went to a peasant's house and uh, and um, we didn't go into the house but we went in to his barn over there, and he says, "You can stay here," and he sort of ordered the Polish people to give us some milk for the baby. And uh, he says, "I'm doing this for you," he says, "because I too have a family in Germany, with children, and I hope that they are not in need like you are right now." And of course it was so uh, encouraging to find a German, who we all feared so much, to show uh, such uh, sensitivity and feeling and all this. But of course, the next day--morning--we took off, and uh, we finally made it back to our town, and um, uh, as soon as we came into town, we right away heard uh, news from people that uh, so-and-so was killed, so-and-so was shot because he was wear...he was davening with a tallis and tefillin on, so the Germans went and killed him. Some Jews, they were taken to the market square, and sha...not shaved, but uh, cut off their beards, humiliating them, and all this here created a tremendous fear in the community. We also were told by uh, by others that had been in Pułtusk all through--all this period of time that if you had a business, we'd better open it up, because otherwise they'll requisition everything in it and take it away from us. So we uh, opened up uh, our store, and we would put in just a minimal amount of inventory of candies in there and uh, close it after two or three hours. And so, it was not a question of getting used to it; we didn't have a chance to get used to this, because uh, it happened on the 26th of September. The war in Warsaw was still going on um, some other pockets, I guess, of resistance, in Poland, but most of the communities in the cities were all uh, already occupied by then.

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