Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Dorfman - August 11 & 25, 1989

German Atrocities

When, when they hung your rabbi, w...was that the first time you had seen somebody...

It was the first time, the first thing there was a, it was after a rain, there was like a big puddle. They took about five, six and the rabbi too and they had to lay down in that puddle with--full of mud and everything else. Before they hanged him, that guy was ninety-nine percent dead, eh. And the tragedy about hanging was he was, even if he came from the small town where we are, but he was a very well known rabbi. One of his granddaughters still lives in Israel. Which I see her quite often. And when he uh, and when, and they hanged him they said that he spit one of the uh, one of the SS or whatever in his face. This was marked on his--on the--when they were hanging and then, on the, on the wall uh, someplace, I mean in the city in a few places a piece of paper that he spit and that's why he was hanging because he was an enemy of, of uh, the, the Germans and the Hitler regime and so forth. It was not true. That, that man uh, and everybody from the city was assembled to watch the way they, they took that I don't remember it was ten or fifteen or five, I can't remember how many, that they were all in the puddle, you understand. And, and, and things, ripped their clothes off and things. What they done with the others, I think they killed the rest. I mean, the, the, the other few were killed too because they were the top people, the most uh, the most learned people from the city, you understand what I mean.

The intellectuals.

Intellectuals. I remember there was one doctor, because the whole city had one doctor. Uh, he was in there and, and was a, a druggist. I mean, I'm talking about the most richest and prominent people. And the rabbi, you know.

How did your family react to all this? Your parents, did they discuss this at home? Were your grandparents still living with you now?

No, my grandparents were, were another, another--the grandparents where we lived in that town in Głowaczów they were gone. They, they died before the war.

But you had two other grandparents.

But the other grandparents lived in Demblin, which it was about forty kilometers away. So they, they, they. Who could travel? Nobody could see anybody. You couldn't go from here over there. Before they--if they catch you, I mean, you know. Another thing is you had, you could have gone, you could have walked, you could have had contacts with the other family, but the families right away, after a year the Germans came in everybody was ripped up. Except the family, if I had--we had my father's father and a sister, two sisters, we were approximately together because we lived in the same town. So wherever we went we discussed what are we going to get together. We were eating together, sleeping together and everything else. This was the family. But if you had outside family like here, like you live in Detroit and you have somebody in Boston, forget it.. You didn't know what was going on there. Even ten kilometers away you didn't know what was going on. Because you were afraid to go anyplace, if they catch you, you were dead. Let's say if some Pole said that he saw Henry Dorfman or any other Jew and they went to the Gestapo, they just took you out and you were dead because you were not allowed to get out from the ghetto.

Did that happen? Did you see that happen?

Oh, a lot.

People you knew?

People I did know.

Jews I mean, who were, who were pointed out.

Absolutely. Sure.

Tell me about one of those times.

One of my boyfriends that lives in Israel, his brother, he had a brother and a sister. They were, I think, four or five of them all told. But the brother and the sister went out, out of the ghetto at night, what did they went for? To get some food. Food. And they brought the, the food back into the ghetto. About a few hours later, the siren, you know, was it going. Because we had gendarmerie. And, and, you know, we had the Polish police watching the ghetto. Then there was gendarmerie which they were about forty kilometers away from the headquarters. Nothing was done until those from the headquarters came. And they came and they took out--I remember the little girl, what could she be, ten, eleven, twelve years old. And the brother was probably about seventeen--eighteen years old. Took out those two kids, middle of town and just shot 'em like two dogs, right in the head. What happened is--yes, then they found out, I didn't know because I figured whatever they done you didn't question it. You didn't think about this here. Their, their mother said that the neighbor, a Pole, that they lived went to the Gestapo and told them that they went out, whether they got, they got out to get a piece of bread or whatever. And this happened--listen, it was so obvious it was--if a Jewish boy or a Jewish mother or a father, whoever got killed. You cried. [pause] There was no help. You couldn't help yourself. You see in our minds it was one thing. We had a little hope in this that this is not going to last. We didn't believe that it's going to last so many years. We figured there's somebody in the world knows something was happening. I'll tell you, I remember, we used to sit because I was laying around in the--when we, when we moved into the big ghetto for Kozienice, I was elected to be in the sanitary commission, you know, to go around and look to see if it's clean and, I mean, how, they got six families in a, in a, in a room how I clean with, with the toilets outside. There was no water, there was no--I mean how the heck, I mean, could you have--if it wasn't one house, what about the quarters. What they picked for the Jews was the worst quarters. The water was outside, the toilets were outside, I mean, what kind of a life was that? It was impossible, so. So this what they picked.

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