Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Dorfman - August 11 & 25, 1989


What did you do each day while you were in hiding?

Nothing. We couldn't get a book, we didn't get anything.

And what was the quarters like that you were in...

The quarters...

...you were in a basement?

...the quarters were not bad. No, we were in a, in a barn, you know. In Poland you had a barn for, for cows, for cattle. That, that, that, he had three, four cows because he had money. He bought it. I mean, he had one cow before, now he had three cows, four cows. He fed pigs, he had horses, two or three--a couple horses. And we were buying, in the, in the hay season we were buying hay that we can lay under hay. If we heard something is happening in the area that the gendarmerie or the Polish police are looking. They were looking in those little uh, houses what they were near, this was near the forest. So they were looking, checking those. So we had bunkers. I, I was just with the kids there, here I have the whole thing. And I showed them the bunkers, we had a bunker. From the barns where we were hidden there was a bunker, that's all. Sometimes we sat for two days, that's all we could stay. We couldn't, we couldn't sit down. There was, you know, because how much of a bunker could you--the bunker was like you see, let's say here was the barn and here was a few big trees. The forest was right there like this here. We made an underground bunker just if we could. You know, just go like this.


Standing. You can go out and the, the, the big tree had uh, what do you call it uh, what a tree has, the big, uh...



The roots, the trunk.

The roots. Yeah, the trunk. The big roots. There where we, we had covered up with grass, but we knew where the woods are, we could get out from the woods and get into the fields or, or get into the uh, to the forest. The forest was very thick and big. They, they didn't get into the forest. And this was our hiding in, in daytime. In daytime we were not too comfortable because if anything--you know how the, those guys were. Even to punish us, even if nothing was going on, they said, "Get," I mean, "get in the bunker." Sometime you know. But then later on we told them we're not going to go. Because sometime they, they hold us over there for, for two days. But you, you just couldn't you just couldn't do it. So we stayed, we stayed in daytime and at night we got out in the bunker and we went to uh, to sleep on the hay you know, in the, in the big barn.

If, if someone had found out that you were there, what would have happened to those Poles?

Oh, they burn 'em and kill 'em and hang 'em and then let everybody sees. They, uh...

The Germans would.

Sure. There's a lot of them did happen. It did happen. We had one, one thing eh, they were at that time taking all the War...all the Warsaw ghetto out to Treblinka. This was in 1942. So a lot of people jumped the trains. In our, our forest were, were, were very big, you understand. That region had tremendous forest. My father went--he always heard, I don't know where he found out because that goy where we were hidden--he was a nice guy and he told father all kind of thing. And we heard, you know, from families. There are families I have in New Jersey where their fathers and mothers they were the same thing like, like we hidden. And the people burned them in the bunkers. Like we were, we were in the bunkers. They put in fire from one side and fire from the other side and they just, they were dead. So father found out that, that we hear that the gendarmerie and the Polish police caught two ladies and a little girl. I did not know because my father used to go away, sometime to the forest for a day or two because there was a lot of partisans too in, in the forest. Mostly Russians because when Hitler start eh, what '41 when he got into Russia? He uh, took those prisoners. In, in our area we were making, like I told you, I mean, the Maginot Line, you know, like a lot of cement bunkers. And he brought a lot of those Russian prisoners to work at that, to our area. Specifically they were the same thing, they picked the Jews up and killed them. Jewish officers and the Russian Jews. So a lot of those, a lot of them of those escaped. And they created a partisan group in our area. I did not go. My father used to go out with the other guys that we were together sometime to talk to them or whatever and--it was luck. And I used, when I found out I said, "Dad, why do you go, let's say they follow you and they going to come into us, those partisans. And how do we going..." He says, "Listen, I think maybe it's going to be better." And I would say that a few of them, they were Jewish officers. That they knew where we were. But they did not want to take the chance to stay with us. They sometime came at night into us. And we had, you know--place. Like I say, we had a, a big crate with water, so they used to come about two o'clock at night to take a bath, you understand. About three, four officers, Russians. And then they didn't want to stay. They say this is, this is dangerous over here they say. They--"Please come in with us to the forest." We didn't go, but. But father used to go and sometimes stayed with them a day or two, whatever. They, they done some work, they ripped off some trains, this and that, but not that, uh. I don't know. I didn't want to get involved. My father didn't let me either. So they caught those two women and those children from the, things and that woman--one--the younger one escaped. And she come running to us at night, probably sixteen, maybe eighteen years old and I remember my father come and he was completely let's, let's get into the bunkers right now. Because he says, there's no doubt that the gendarmerie followed her where she is running. She come to tell us to escape from there, to get into the forest. We heard shots about five minutes later she was--not just shot to kill, she was shot in her legs to tell where she was, where she was running. She says she was running, she didn't know where, she wanted to hide someplace, you understand. Make the story short okay and they killed her. And she told us that that lady with the little girl told the gendarmerie and all of them where Jews are. And the, the first thing is I think there was about maybe thirty, forty Jews got kill...I mean, were killed. Which they were by--hidden like me. And they took the Poles, the whole families and killed right and killed them right with them. So you can imagine what's going on that particular week or the two weeks in our area. What happened, they said that the police had seen what, what harm she...

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