Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mark Webber - December 13, 2004

Being Forced Out of Home

And um, I was staying in, in our store with my brother and my father, and um, all of a sudden the store filled up with Gentiles, and all of them were just going and grabbing cartons full of um, cans with some candy or packages of candy, and just walking out of the store without paying. So my brother ran out--we were on the main street uh, near the uh, the square--the, the market square. Was standing--and I followed my brother, ‘cause I was a little guy, and my brother was the big one, and my brother ran up to this officer standing there in his beautiful uniform and all that, and just like observing the uh, the, the place. And he went over there and excused himself, and he says, "Can you help me?" He says, "We have this store here and all of a sudden the public is coming in here. They just robbing things. They're moving out." So he followed my brother to the store and as soon as he came into the store, all that they had in their hands fell out. They dropped it all, they got scared and ran away. And then he said to us in German--he said to close up the store, "The store is not yours any more, and go to your house." We looked out from the--from this--from the store, and we saw uh, we were busy with, with customers and all this here, we didn't realize what was going on. From all, from all--from one side, there were going Jewish people and German soldiers with their guns were pursuing them, and yelling, "Go! Go! Schnelle!" And we quickly went into our courtyard in that building. And um, and in there was a big tumult with people yelling and crying and the Germans running and, and yelling. And we quickly went up--we lived--our living quarters were on the second floor. We went up there and my mother was there with the rest of the children and they had already heard all this here that was going on. And the Germans were running up and down the stairs and chasing everybody to go down, down, down, and we--my father quickly grabbed a bag. We had a, a bag with potatoes, for instance, for the--for, for Sukkos holiday was right uh, right around the corner. It was the day before Erev Sukkos that all this happened. So he spilled it out and he opened up some cabinets and threw in whatever was in there, in, in several bags like this here. And we put on our coats, and we ran, we ran down. And in there, they all took everybody out into the market square, and from the market square pushing everybody only in one direction. And people wanted to go to Warsaw, they wanted to go someplace else. In our case, we would've wanted to go to Warsaw too, because they had a large uh, my mother's family over there. But no, all the roads were closed except the one leading towards the River Narew. And there was a big state park and a city park there, and uh, that's where they uh, gathered up all the Jewish people of the community were taken out on that one day. And we didn't know--there was no communication. They let us all sit there and all our belongings uh, whatever we had. We didn't have any wagons to carry, it's only what you could carry on your own. And uh, we had no idea what was going on, why they doing this to us? And um, an airplane would fly over and people would right away tighten up and say, "Oh, they're going to machine gun--they're going to gas us. They're going to kill us--a bomb," and all this here. The day wore on, and then they decided to separate the women from the men. They took away the men, and they left the women with the children. I was left with the children, and um, and this--the crowd got smaller, all of a sudden. They were taking in groups of people into a small little house that was staying in that park over there, and I came inside--we were later, later group that were coming in there--and I saw this big cupboard--a wooden box, like, standing maybe about four by three or something like this. And that was full, overflowing, with all kinds of jewelry items, coins, valuables, watches, spilling over on to the floor. And we were ordered to undress completely. And this was all men soldiers, and here women, and mothers and uh, and daughters, and everybody had to undress completely, and um, they went over, if they had rings on them, earrings, or whatever any of value they took away. And uh, I myself had a sort of like a torn coat, but in the pockets of it my father had given me two uh, rolls of some silver coins--Polish złotys--they had a coin of two złotys. So I had this in a pocket of my coat, and I took the coat off, and another German came over thinking, thinking that I'm already getting dressed, so he gave me the coat and, and uh, was kicking me out--this was a habit that they kicked everybody out with their foot, and he took a couple of złotys out, and he give it to you, okay? And so, this wound up to be like most all the money that we had on ourselves, because of I didn't actually have a chance to undress myself. And uh, they didn't take away all the other things: the--some laundry stuff, some, some shirts and some sweaters, and whatever my father was able to grab, or mother.

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