Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Cyla Wiener - July 13, 1992

Early Childhood

The following interview will be conducted with Cyla Wiener. At the home of her nephew Fred Ferber, in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Conducted on the morning of July 13, 1992. The interviewer is Sidney Bolkosky.

Could you tell me your name please and where you were born?

My name is Cyla Ferber Wiener, you know. My maiden name was Ferber. And I, I was born in Kraków, you know. And I was, I have eight brothers, [laughs] I was the only girl. It was something very beautiful. My childhood was not, was a very hard one in the beginning but, I was born in the middle of the war, the first war. It was very hard. My father was in the Army, the Austrian army, you know. My two brothers, too. And my mother worked very hard - she had to do something to support us, and it was not very easy. And for a while they were sending us, you know, the children, especially the women and children to Czechoslovakia, you know, but to Czechoslovakia you know...

Because of the poverty, because you were poor?

Yeah, in during the war, Kraków, Poland was under Austria, you know? Many under Russia, but we were under Austria. Austria was sending the families with the children for a... during the first war to Czechoslovakia. Cause it was very hard in Kraków to get you know, food, you know. Especially for family when the father was in the war, you know. It was very hard. For awhile, we went there for a while and it was easy for us. The people were good, you know, helping out.

Where in Czechoslovakia?

I don't remember...in a small town, a very small town.

Your father served in the Hapsburg Army?

Then my father was in the army, yes.

In the Hapsburg?


Did the family ever talk about the Hapsburgs?

No. Maybe yes, I can't remember. That was so many years. But then after awhile we came back, you know, to Kraków, you know. We came back to Kraków. My father still was in the army. My two brothers was in the army, and it was very hard for us. Very! I remember one night, I have one brother, this was Fred's father. Fred's father, my nephew, you know. Fred Ferber. He was, to me he was wonderful. He really, uh...was one from the best. He...he was the one who took care of me and my younger brother. Especially me, you know, he loved me and I loved him very much and I was crying I was hungry and my mother went out of Kraków to get something, you know, to a small, maybe she took some shmattehs (rags or junk) you know, to exchange for food, something, to bring back to us. And uh, it was very hard and I was very hungry. Everybody was hungry. We were laying in the bed together, in one where my parents, in the bedroom where my parents sleep and my brother, Fred's father, told me, "Don't cry, don't cry". You will see, that my father, the father will come in and he will bring us so much to eat. It was eleven o'clock at night and we couldn't sleep, we were hungry. Suddenly, a knock on the door and my brother run out and open the door, my father walked in [crying]. I will never forget this, I was maybe four, five years old, you know. I, I was jumping, I was crazy about my father. You can imagine what this was like, I was the only girl. And my father brought so much food home, you wouldn't believe, you can't even imagine. [crying] I never, I can never forget this, never. It was something very beautiful and exciting and I have no words to express. My father was with us for awhile and then he had to go back, you know. We were, we were suffering very bad, it was very bad you know, to get the food and everything but, the war end, you know. It came to an ending and my father came home and my brothers came home, and life begin, you know. So I was going to school, you know. And Poland got liberated, you know. Was no more Austrian, the Poland was liberated, we were liberated.

Do you remember Pilsudski?


Do you remember Pilsudski?

Pilsudski, very good. I remember Pilsudski who was a very good man, very. He really was good for the Jews and this is why I remember and every Jew remembers him.

What do you remember about him? Do people talk about him a lot?

Oh yes, he...oh he was like a hero for us, you know. He was good. I really mean it, good. Every, everybody looks up to him. But it was uh, uh other general in Poland, he was very anti-Semitic, you know. The Halecic, we called him, Halecic, maybe you heard about him, you know. But uh...we were living with us...we had nothing special to do with him, but I know that he was very bad, but Pilsudski was very good to the Jews, really. I can't say a word, you know, against him, but....

Do you remember when he died?

I remember when he die. I think in 1930, you know. Something like that, you know. He was really our hero, you know, very good. Everybody looked after him, after Pilsudski.

But there was anti-Semitism in Poland?

Yeah. It was others, it was very bad really, as I remember it. In Kraków, where, I didn't special...we didn't suffer special for anti-Semitism in Kraków specially. I don't know, the Polish people were living together with us, you know. Cyla Wiener - July 13, 1992 - Family

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