Concordia University MIGS

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Volume 2

June 29, 1993

A new chapter is opened up, somewhere in the life of the world and my life too. I am going to try to bring out impressions and feelings of yonder years. A bit late in the day, but maybe not too late. With the progression of the Second World War, life just flip-flopped completely. No more regulated behavioural patterns. No family cohesions. No knowledge of a possible source of income. No laws to govern civic life. Blurring of the distinction between criminal and normal behaviour. Just about everything with which people measured events and deeds ceased to operate, as was understood up until the first week in September 1939. What a revolution in one's psyche. Not having anymore the regulated way of understanding life around, we relapsed into an almost petrified state of stupor. Only old established norms in one's own narrow circles still had a certain sway. These above elaborated points started functioning only days after the war started. Like night would superimpose itself on the firmament of time.

Of course it didn't all happen in one fell swoop. It took time. But remarkably little time. Within a few weeks, nobody knew where what was. It was just a time of chaos: like the proverbial Tohu-Vohu of the Bible. We had to adapt to an unknown future. We were bewildered and forlorn. Events started taking place one after another. Quite swiftly too.


June 30, 1993

I feel an elevation for having come around that far. I also feel a tinge of some inner reaction. There is a consciousness of movement. Some historical events are crawling out of the past. History is re-living itself. I am becoming merged into the yesteryear and the place that I am now inhabiting. I'll try to be as true to the facts as they are coming into view.

As soon as the shock of being almost in direct line of the trajectory of the large bomb that fell next door receded, I became aware that tremendous events were unfolding. The reports on the radio were mentioning names of places fairly deep inside Polish territory. Battles were raging. Some localities were detailed for special attention. They happened to be close to Lodz. The air of approaching calamity hung low over our city.

In the midst of all this foreboding, news came through of the nature of our own narrow escape. The factory next door, a sausage manufacturing plant, was a very visible target for the German bombers. They had a large basement. I suppose it served as a storage capacity. As the alarm sounded, all the workers and the inhabitants of the building adjoining the plant, ran for shelter to the basement. Some passers-by also tried to use that shelter. Some managed to get in. The owners of the plant were however very vigilant anti-Semites. They refused entry to the Jewish passers-by. Those that were not allowed in ran to other houses. There is no implied justice or otherwise. But the truth is, that those inside perished and what happened to the ones that had to find shelter elsewhere is not known to me. I still hope that they survived.

The early-on event of the Second World War left me with a scar on my head. I don't know whether it affected me of not. I don't feel physically any inconvenience because of it now.

As this Sunday was followed by a quiet Monday, so the bomb events took the comparative quiet of the following day to get as the saying goes: acclimatized to life. But the Tuesday already signalled a new situation. The bomb fell on Sunday the 3rd of September 1939. On Tuesday the 5th, units of the Polish army started rumbling through Lodz. Where we lived was one of the main routes to Warsaw. All the soldiers accosted by the adults and youngsters were indicating that the whole army is in retreat. What started as a small number of units of all kinds became, as the day wore on, a mass withdrawal. The army was going to defend Warsaw. We felt like in the middle of a war operation.


July 1, 1993

What somehow was a night with ominous overtones turned into an anxiety ridden period. My recollections of that night are a little vague. I only know that when I woke up, I found my father and brother missing. They had, by my mother's account, gone with the retreating soldiers. The story as related took place in the following order: there was a call on the radio for all men of arms-bearing age to follow the army. The implication being that there is going to be another front, set up to defend Warsaw. Also, it was given to understand that those who were not going to go with the retreating army might be impressed into the German war machine. By the time I became aware as to the night's events, I was left the only male in the household. The nervous tension was rising to a pitch. Neighbours were exchanging news as to the men of the neighbourhood. In the meantime, the army kept rumbling through the roads leading to Brzeziny and on to Warsaw. Even today, I still see an epochal picture before my eyes. Soldiers on foot, soldiers on horse-drawn vehicles, wounded soldiers, provisions, prisoners of war, officers on horses, officers on the few motor vehicles and motor bikes, artillery pieces, horse-drawn cavalry units and single straggling conscripts who didn't know their unit's whereabouts. Now and again some low-flying fighter planes were strafing anybody that was on the road. The road was just in front of our house. One could almost see it now, with the hindsight of 54 years ago, as a grand review platform. Before our panic-stricken eyes, an army was running. That was the same army who used to be glorified in our school. In those days leading to the war, we were forever told by the colonels and generals who were also the leaders of our government, that the heroic Polish armed forces will stand guard on our frontiers. We believed them. Maybe not all the people believed it. We were all, however, looking up to our defence forces as our protectors and guardians.

All through Wednesday and Thursday did the street outside our house resemble an army post. There must have been many tens of thousands men on their way to north east. Lodz took on an air of eeriness.

Now and again one heard already stories of returned men and young men. Their story was of hellish things. They told of German units being ahead of them. They barely managed to get back home. Others spoke of merciless bombings on the highways. On Thursday, towards the evening, news came by word of mouth, that a people's militia has been formed to guard the civil life of the city. We didn't know who was in charge at the top. We started then to follow an old custom of trying to be on good terms with the oncoming authorities. Although there were still scattered soldiers making their way out of the city, we were already being conditioned to accept a new reality. And a new reality it certainly was.


July 2, 1993

So, the infamous Friday rolled around. There were no more bombings. An ominous calm descended on the city. Even rumours didn't circulate in the morning. It's strange to be in a place that stood still. That sort of calm lasted until noon. Because there were telephones at such places as pharmacies and wealthier people, too, had them, news travelled ahead of the incoming Germans. All of a sudden everybody in the street and in the courtyard knew to relate the news. At about 2 p.m. the first patrols would be in the city centre. They would be coming from the north west. The family: i.e. my mother, sister, and I, hurriedly made our way to my uncle's residence in the middle of the city. We wanted to be together with auntie and the young cousin. It seemed to have been an impulse. Somehow closely related people want to share their closeness. They were the closest relatives that we had in Lodz. As we came to the city centre, so the first outriders on motorcycles came into view. They just looked like ordinary men. Their uniforms were different. They almost looked like regular beings. What got stuck in my memory was the applause that erupted upon their arrival. Nobody could tell exactly who were those jubilant people. It didn't take a long time to realize that these were the much-vaunted Volksdeutsche. Of course we knew of their existence before the war. They were not hiding their ethnicity. They only made us all believe that they are loyal citizens of the Polish state.

So, we had a ready-made occupation machine. At the time that we saw the German patrols come in, my mother remarked that they, the Germans, are a tough lot. She remembered them from the First World War. According to mother, they were strict but reasonably observant of the law and could even be fair at times. Such impressions were held by a lot of people of mother's generation. It was soothing to hear her talk thus. We stayed at auntie's over the week-end. No word was coming as to the fate of the men-folk. Uncle had also joined the rush on Wednesday early morning. He came to us and together with father and brother, made their way out of Lodz. Provisions were becoming scarce, long lines formed outside of bakeries and groceries. There was never a shortage of food in my memory. It was sometimes hard to make out before the war. Unemployment and restrictive practices by the pre-war reactionary government, made the economic picture gloomy. But we always knew that Poland had an abundance of food. It was supplying lots of its produce to other countries. So, what happened all of a sudden?


July 3, 1993

The very question as to the shortage of food, just when the harvest was already in and there was a very pleasant Indian summer, somehow became an ominous manifestation. Endless queues for essentials. Just as the occupiers established themselves, so food was a prized commodity. No easy going anymore. We weren't actually starving. We were just made aware of things to come. With the lining up for food, which was still distributed in the old way, we, the Jewish population, had to endure another hardship. Gangs of young Poles kept on picking out Jewish-looking persons and forcing them out of the bread lines. It was a real scourge. It wasn't as if the occupying Germans did all those nasty things. These were our neighbours. Being themselves a conquered people, having seen for themselves the disintegration of the army and state, were nevertheless ready for pernicious behaviour towards their fellow citizens. Not all the Poles engaged in such atrocious deeds. There were however enough of those hoodlums all over the city, to put fear and apprehension into our lot. We started feeling surrounded by more than just the evil occupiers. The process of calumnious signs around us got thicker by the day.

News of the fate of our father, brother and uncle, plus numerous relatives, friends and acquaintances, was hanging over us like a dark curtain. Some people were back. Those that came back had sometimes news of others that they saw on their run. Sometimes their stories as to what went on on the highways leading out of Lodz were full of woe. There was strafing and encircling manoeuvres by the German army. Sometimes they were fair to the fleeing refugees. At other times they were bestial.

No sooner did the new authorities establish themselves in all the public buildings, offices and army barracks, that ordinances were being issued every few hours. There were so many restrictions on every normal pattern of life, that nobody knew what to do, how to earn a living or how would one go to school.

Within a few days, we suddenly saw father. He came back, with uncle. Without the usual joyous exclamations for fear of being observed, we thanked our lucky star. Uncle made his way to his own home in the centre of the city. It was already comforting to see our beloved father around. He was famished. He needed badly a change of clothes. It took a few days before he opened up. In the meantime there was no news about the whereabouts of my brother David. We were hoping that he somehow made his way east. Many did get to the eastern parts of Poland. Some got as far as Warsaw. Others went east without any desire to linger on the roads. All kinds of stories circulated around.


July 4, 1993

Now, looking back to those days seems like looking into a kaleidoscope. All kinds of stories, persons and happenings are whirling around. It's difficult to follow each point, without touching on another point. It became a mad rush of events. Constantly engulfed by restrictions, shortages, uncertainties and fears; it was a very stressful time. Every day, every hour, brought new things to the forefront of our attention. It required a lot of stamina to handle them all at the same time.

After uncle went back to his home, he only had a brief respite. Because he lived in a city block which formed a kind of huge courtyard with several entrances on three streets, he got into an early contact with the police and Gestapo agents. They were checking out the complex where he lived. They were on the look out for billeting space for their army units. When the janitor of the buildings was asked to name the owner of a large flat in the adjoining building, where uncle lived, he pointed to uncle as the administrator. The Gestapo agents went up to the 4th floor and found only auntie at home. They requested that uncle should come to their offices. Upon being told of what happened, uncle made his way to our place. He stayed with us three days. Auntie stayed behind with my cousin. Three days of heart-rending vacillations. Uncle was an administrator and correspondent to the Jewish socialist newspaper Folkslajtung. Rumour had it already that the Gestapo, tipped off by some German citizens of Lodz, were looking for Jewish socialist leaders. Although not in the top echelon of the leadership, he was nonetheless a known person to many people. At the same time another close friend of the family, Joseph Morgentaler, who lived near uncle, was also summoned to appear at the Gestapo. He also took refuge. It was at the house of our friends, one block away from us. Both men were having doubts as to what to do. My uncle got into trouble mainly because he lived in the same complex where the Bund, the Jewish socialist party, had its offices. It was however known that the Nazis had no tolerance of socialists. One wondered whether they would want to pick on socialist activists in a newly occupied city. Besides, both men had their wives and children left behind. It was assumed that they were under surveillance all the time. Now, looking back with hindsight, I might have urged them on, to flee. That is not what they did. They both went to their homes. Almost at their doorsteps, they were met by Gestapo agents. I haven't seen them since. As these events were unfolding, news spread around, that a few others of the Bund were also arrested. Others that were wanted, managed to hide successfully. They got to the States eventually. I think that both uncle and J. Morgentaler went back because they feared for the safety of their wives and families. Only recently did one of the two surviving sons of Morgentaler tell me that looking back, he was of the opinion that his father should not have gone back to their home. It certainly was a traumatic experience for me.


July 5, 1993

About the same time as all this went on, my brother David returned. He was thoroughly worn out. He went as far as Warsaw in his flight from Lodz. There he participated in the defence of Warsaw. When the German push eastward got close to the capital, the government fled. All the political establishments as well as known personalities followed the governmental lead. At first Warsaw was supposed to have been given up without a fight. But a group of staunch patriots, led by the city president Starzynski, changed the course set by the country's leaders. They organized volunteer citizens brigades. They also got many army units that kept on making their way ahead of the occupiers. With little food or arms and ammunitions, they put up a very gallant defence. When all of Poland was already conquered, Warsaw still fought on. Hunger and thirst and merciless artillery bombardments kept on inflicting heavy losses. At the end of the month Warsaw fell. The soldiers were taken prisoners. The civilians tried to sneak out whenever and wherever they could. David got out of Warsaw. He made his way back to Lodz, through devious ways. But he was back and except for mental scars, was reasonably healthy. Uncle was in jail. We were aware of his place of imprisonment. Just outside of Lodz proper, in a converted textile factory, the Germans kept most of the arrested citizens. There were all kinds of people there. Mainly activists in political and social movements in Lodz. The Bundist component was quite visible; several city councillors, party activists as well as a few others, caught in a tightening net. Nobody at home worked. The factory where I worked as an apprentice was also the place where father worked. None of the Jewish people that were employed there before the war were accepted back. Except for a few trade masters and the director. There was no income. We dug up all the savings the family had. Things were getting tough. There was still an availability of food. It was however in a restricted way. You just had to be very quick to know where what was being sold. Agility and constant look-out became the motto for survival. Being just 15 years old, I exercised my natural quickness to the limit. Many boys and girls became proficient providers. The times were probably conducive for youthful escapades. We knew many nooks and crannies. We could sneak up on distribution places without being noticed by the militia or hostile urchins. We also learned how to earn a few groszy. Street peddling, offering help to elderly and distressed people, as well as finding somehow a bit of work, strange as it may seem, with the occupying army units. Quite a lot of those youngsters helped their distraught families get along.


July 7, 1993

The times rolled along. Restrictions followed one another. First it was a white armband. Then it was an edict that all Jews were required to wear a star of David on their chests and on their backs. That made for easy pickings. Some Germans weren't always aware who was a Jew. The badges told them so without difficulty. Rumours started making people nervous. The talk was of indications by high German officials as to creation of a ghetto. With life getting more difficult as time went on, many young people started looking for a way to escape. The roads were very hard to traverse. Frequent check ups and identifications made any journey hazardous.

The war as it went along saw some new twists. Russia, which signed a treaty with Germany just before the war started, had a secret clause to it. Both of them agreed to carve up Poland and proceeded to do so. We were not at first aware as to what was going to happen to our country. In the middle of September 1939, the Russian army crossed the Polish border and started a drive towards the river Bug. That was the dividing line between them and the Germans. The Polish forces that were withdrawing eastward, encountered the Russians without being at all aware of that possibility. Their fight with the Russians didn't last long. Almost simultaneous to the fall of Warsaw, the whole country was under the yoke of two of its neighbours.

Many people wondered what such an invasions meant. Some people looked to the east with hope. They were hopeful of an understanding attitude to our plight both as Polish citizens and especially as Jews. We were guided by a gut feeling. The Russian government was forever proclaiming their opposition to German fascism. Going by the old maxim that the enemy of your enemy is your friend swayed many people to look towards the east as the salvation. Lots of people, young and old, were leaving for the eastern parts of Poland. Almost all households started missing some of their sons, daughters, fathers and many relatives too. My brother, unable to make anything out for himself since he came back from Warsaw, left too. After several weeks we got news that he arrived in Bialystok, a city in the Russian zone. Things were quite hard for the huge influx of refugees. There were no shelters for them. They had to find anything they could in order to be shielded from the elements. Their lot at first was a pitiful one. Very few came back to Lodz or elsewhere under the Germans. We thought that for him there will be a chance to find an occupation for himself. Nobody knew at that time what was in store for those left behind in Lodz. Many of my relatives also went the same route.


July 8, 1993

In the meantime, when things were getting tight and life was turning from miserable to very hard, my uncle Hersz Mayer was languishing in the detention, at Radogoicz. Auntie Lola and cousin Mendele, a very young boy, moved to auntie's family residence in a town named Skierniewice. She felt secure there. We looked after uncle's affairs. I brought uncle daily packages of food, prepared by my mother. Once I overheard a conversation between Morgentaler's wife Golda and her younger son Moomek. She somehow talked about a possibility to arrange for a visit. I related the gist of that conversation to father and mother. They immediately contacted auntie in Skierniewice. I remember now vividly, her coming to Lodz. I remember the visit. Only auntie went. She told us that uncle looked pale and drawn. It was the one and only time that anybody from the family ever saw uncle after his arrest. Some time later, when food parcels would not be accepted, we were told that uncle was sent away to Germany. For months after that I kept on enquiring at the political prisoners desk in the Jewish community centre. It was always a negative answer. No knowledge of his whereabouts was the standard response.

At the time when all those events were taking place, my father kept up a brave posture. He was of the old school of fighters. He participated in the 1905 uprising against the Russian autocratic regime. He was an active socialist. For his Bundist and union activities, he was arrested in 1937. Only because the leader of the Bund in Lodz, A. Zygielboim, interceded for him, did he escape the fate of being sent to the infamous Polish concentration camp KARTUZ BEREZA. It was a very lucky thing. Many people who were sent there came out both physically and mentally broken.


July 9, 1993

The events under the Nazi rule were somehow not what my father or the other Bundist activists were accustomed to deal with. From the outset of the occupation, Jews were continually being separated from the gentiles. There was no concerted effort on behalf of the majority Poles and the minority ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche). Collective responsibility figured large in the psyche of the Jews. To dare and resist the occupiers meant to risk the safety and lives of many other fellow Jews. Lots of the leaders left Lodz. Some were being sought by the Gestapo. Father's role in both supporting his family and working in the resistance to the occupiers was precarious. Except for succour for very needy Bundists who fell prey to circumstances, there was no significant activity. Also the arrest and subsequent disappearance of his only brother in Poland left him more despairing then before. As an active trade unionist, he had many contacts with gentile workers. Those contacts became scarcer as the occupation went on. However he kept on being stopped and greeted by all kinds of people. Some were Volksdeutsche who knew him. Those encounters started to frighten him. There were just too many Nazis amongst the ethnic Germans. He certainly was not living in any way to give him a sense of purpose. Although he was an active anti-fascist, he was not too well thought of by the large group of Jewish communists of his trade union as well as communists in general.

At one time, way back in the 1920's, a group of Bundists formed a so-called ComBund. It was the work of agents from the then already established Soviet government in Russia, to convert and subvert all socialist movements in the world. Poland, being a very close neighbour, was particularly singled out for attention. The textile industry was a large industry in pre-war Poland. Its main base was Lodz. The Jewish component of that industry was substantial. Therefore the union of Jewish textile workers became the obvious target of attention. My father, who was in Germany during the First World War, made all possible efforts to return to his native Lodz. Many people used the occasion of being abroad to stay on or move further west. He was in Germany as a forced labourer. The regime wasn't very oppressive then. He did make his way back, in large measure to help build the fledgling trade union of Jewish textile workers. The events above described took place in the years 1917-1919.

Almost immediately after Poland's liberation and unification, political parties, trade unions, co-operatives, mutual help societies, secular schools, libraries, sports clubs mushroomed. Within the socialist camp a great discussion ensued: should socialists, even the democratic part of it, consider Russia and its dictatorial communist regime as being the side to which to hitch on to or consider them too dictatorial for comfort.

The newly formed Socialist International was the answer of the bulk of socialists the world over. However, small groups with revolutionary traditions joined up with the communists in so-called between groups. The ComBund was the way this movement worked.

My father joined the ComBund. By doing so, he deprived the Bund of its majority in the textile union. After a short sojourn with his new group, he returned to the Bund. He couldn't stomach the communists' quest for power. He was disillusioned. The Bund became again the majority in the textile union.

However the communists in Russia and their agents in Poland issued threats after threats. They demanded that he come back without delay.

When he didn't comply, they declared him to be a traitor to their cause. He was sentenced to death upon coming anywhere under the jurisdiction of the Soviets.

Many years went by. The unions developed into large bodies of power. Sometimes there was co-operation between the various parties that made up the membership masses. This sentence however was never revoked.

When so many people went away to the eastern parts of Poland, then governed by the Soviets, father found it impossible to go. He knew their regime well. He was too well known in Lodz. Many Jewish communists left Lodz for the east. There was no mistaking their evil intentions. Many socialists were arrested by the Soviets immediately upon their conquest. Not being able to stay on in Lodz, because of the Germans and being afraid to enter the Soviet ruled part of Poland, he was torn between many thoughts and possible avenues of escape. It took my father up until New Year's Day to decide on leaving the city. He left for Skierniewice, where auntie Lola and cousin Mendele lived. He was planning to bring mother, sister and me over there soon.


July 10, 1993

Until that fateful departure, life was being constantly restricted. We were told in a semi-official way that the Jews of Lodz would be driven into a ghetto. The date kept on being changed. Rumours abounded about high ranking interventions. American and other foreign powers, not yet in the war, were supposed to be offering the German government some incentives to stay their ghettoizing drive. We were alternatively jubilant and despairing. From different provincial towns, news came in about deportations and shootings. Some parts of occupied Poland were incorporated into the German Reich. Other parts of Poland with Warsaw, Cracow, Lublin and others, were named the Generalgouvernment. A governor was named. In both parts of Poland, Jews were being denied the essentials for a normal life. No schools for the children, no work for professional staff in hospitals, courts, municipal administrations, technical institutes, etc. Businesses were forcibly taken away and German commissars took over the running of affairs. Bank accounts were blocked. Only small amounts of money were left for the owners. On top of it, arrests were being carried out all the time, on former owners of enterprises. They were accused of harbouring goods and valuables. Radios were confiscated. Jews weren't allowed to use the city's transport system. Systematically mass arrests were carried out. Whole blocks were deported. Nobody could tell where to. In some cases it was just in nearby towns. In many instances, there was no news or even indication as to their destiny. People were also snatched from the streets, not to be seen again. Sometimes those people just returned the same day or a few days later. Very often accosted by soldiers, civilian Germans, policemen or just young punks. They were taken to perform some work. In many instances there were beatings. In other instances there were just certain tasks, like: loading, unloading, cleaning, digging and other manual tasks to be done. There were even cases of being remunerated with some food for the work done. Considering the general atmosphere of fear, each such "catching" was at best a fearful thing. Deportations, street-catchings, shooting sprees were in the order of the day. One just didn't feel safe to be anywhere.

I got caught many times. I was lucky to have escaped with a few bruises. Once having been caught in the centre of the city, I suddenly realized that one of the civilian Germans around me was none other than an old friend of my father's. He worked before the war in the same factory as father and since the middle of 1938, I was there apprenticed as a designer. Mr. Kempinski was, as far as I can remember, an ardent communist. He spent time in Polish jails. He was a devoted trade unionist. To see him amongst Hitlerites, with a swastika pin in his lapel, was a shock to me. He recognized me immediately. He just looked at me and said nothing. I don't think we ever heard of him or saw him again. There were of course very few encounters between Jews and non-Jews. There being hardly any private telephones, one was glad not to be remembered by your German acquaintances. One other episode of that kind sticks in my mind. A neighbour of ours, a certain Mr. Nickel, worked in the same factory too. He used to pop in some time. He too was an ethnic German. He did once warn us of impending danger. He acted as far as we knew in good faith. Strange as it may seem now, but we got used to being harassed. We were still in our homes. War news wasn't very good. We hoped that somehow the Germans would get on with their own affairs and leave us alone. It was of course wishful thinking. The little that we had was getting smaller. We were still hoping and trying to see signs of improvement, when there were none.


July 11, 1993

Whilst this turmoil was going on, I had to keep myself busy. Things weren't too good financially for our family. There were no earnings of any sort. Although not yet in a closed-in ghetto, we, alongside most people, were just subsisting. Since all the events were taking place around me, I somehow lived in a vacuum. My friends who were around were all taken up with very urgent tasks. One way or another, they shared and helped their parents find a way to keep body and soul together. I too started bringing in something to help out. Since having been once caught in the street to clean up a German army billet, I started going to that billet almost daily. The soldiers, who were regular infantry troops, were somehow not too oppressive. They asked me to do many chores for them. I used to receive from them food, cigarettes, sometimes even vodka. I didn't have any particular sense of fear as to their intentions. As I found out bit by bit, they were already homesick. I remember thinking of them as ordinary people, just like the people I used to know around me before the war. They were drafted and were in a war. I even felt a bit sorry for them and their families. Doing all kinds of chores, like cleaning, carrying loads, errands, etc. I used to take home quite a bit of food and other things. I know that it helped at home. I felt proud of myself. The place where I did all this was in one of the wings of the big complex where auntie lived. As a matter of fact, it was on the second floor; uncle's residence was on the fourth floor. Auntie used to come in sometimes from Skierniewice. Her sister with two little girls (twins) was having a hard time of it. Once I was asked by some Germans to help out in clearing another flat. It happened to have been the offices of the union of Jewish clerks. Their union and some of its leaders were known to me. Although not yet a union member, I come from a family of ardent trade unionists. To my great astonishment, I was asked to clear out huge amounts of files, correspondence, membership lists, memoranda, etc. I knew from a previous encounter, what things like these could mean to the safety and lives of the people thus named in those papers. The moving of those papers and office furniture took several days. I compared this state of affairs to our own efforts at the beginning of the war. A few of the active members of the children's organization SKIF (Jewish Socialist Children's movement), came to the Bund headquarters, which was in the same place where I worked now, but in a different wing. We destroyed then all the papers that had the names of its members on it. It took us two days to clear out most that was around. We even went to the nearby sport club Morgensztern (Morning Star) and to the Groser Library. We cleared out all that we could find. When the Germans came in, they couldn't find any traces to our members. Both the sports club and library were associated bodies of the fairly large Bund movement. But the clerks union wasn't somehow in the minds of that group of youngsters. We just didn't tackle that. We didn't even tackle as far as I remember the largest Jewish union, the textile workers union. Maybe they, the unions, had their own groups to do such a job. The union of clerks didn't clear out its papers. It could have been a disaster. Nonchalantly I kept on burning and throwing out whatever had a name on it. When it was done I felt a sense of achievement. At the same time I kept a deep resentment to the leaders of that union. Why didn't they think of things ahead? I even carried that feeling all through the war and even now I still feel pangs of anger over it. One of the leaders of that union lives in Montreal. When I asked him about it upon arrival in Montreal, he gave me a very evasive answer.

The task of helping out with bringing in food to the family, made me go out to deal on the sidewalks of Lodz. I used to sell whatever I could, to bring home some money. I never did things like that before. Like everything else at that time, things moved along quite fast. Soon those episodes in my life became just a memory.


July 12, 1993

It was already well into the autumn. The days were getting shorter. There was a need to prepare fuel for the cold Polish winter. Just like food so did the supply of wood and coal become scarce. One had to line up for hours to get something. Lining up became an art. One had to smell out the possible places where supplies were likely to arrive. One also had to think of medicines. There was no medical service, that was normal in the accepted ways. It became a matter of using one's acquaintances to procure things. The word protekcja, or inside pull, became the most popular expression. One had to have it. One could survive without it for awhile; without the pull, life was very hard. Sometimes extremely so.

News of looming calamities kept on abounding. From many surrounding towns and villages, reports were never of any cheer. Just a continuous narration of forced expropriations, deportations, looting, murder and clear indications of worse things to come. From Warsaw and other cities, the news was not better.

We kept on getting the occasional letter from brother. He had a difficult time in Bialystok. There were lots of homeless people there. Some slept in synagogues, schools and wherever else there was a spot. There wasn't a shortage of food yet. Hygiene and appearance were poor. However, comparing it to our lot, it was much better.

Our relatives, especially from mother's side, were having a harried time. They lived in the north eastern part of central Poland. One uncle, the youngest, left for the east. That meant the Russian occupied part of Poland. He and his family were having difficulties. They had small children. The other uncle, who lived in another town, was deported with his large family. Grandfather and my unmarried auntie were deported too. I am not even sure now that I knew the whereabouts of all of our large family.

In Lodz, we had some cousins and a great uncle. They too had it hard, like most people in Lodz. One auntie, who had married my uncle from Belgium, was considered lucky to have left Lodz just before the outbreak of the war. Mother's oldest brother managed to get out of Germany two months before hostilities started. He and his family were in transit in Britain. They were supposed to emigrate to the U.S.A. It didn't take too long to break the continuity of our and almost all families in Lodz and elsewhere in Poland. Father made his way to Skierniewice on the first day of 1940. I accompanied him to the railway station. Of our immediate family, I was the last one to see him.


July 13, 1993

The winter of 1940 was by old and young considered a very cold one. The old ones were saying that it was a record breaker. We were freezing. Deliveries of food, which was being done by the use of horses, trucks and rail, didn't work well. Fear permeated the transportation system. Jews who were prominent in the supply industry were almost eliminated by the occupiers. Poland of those days never had a modern service. Lack of storage and refrigeration facilities made the deliveries depend on weather and the traffic police. Nobody was dying yet of hunger or cold. But it was fearful to be stuck in Lodz then.

Rumours of ghettoization kept on persisting. It used to be that one day, there were cheerful bits being bandied around. The next day, the rumours would be full of ominous undertones.

Our area was designated, with just a few days notice, as a Judenfrei area. We had to pick up whatever we could and move in with friends a block away. That was our first experience to be thrown out of home. No transportation was available. I remember carrying things on my back. Mother and sister did the same. I somehow had to act the man of the house. It was a traumatic experience. The place that we moved into became crowded. The other occupants of the apartment were our friends, the Weingartens. There was a couple there, an old mother, and a young daughter. With us, it became a crowded dwelling., There were only two bedrooms. There was no running water. There was an outhouse in the courtyard. The only thing that alleviated the overcrowding was the warmth that each person produced. It helped raise the temperature to bearable levels. However, to negotiate a way to the water well or the outhouse was sometimes quite perilous. Ice was so thick down there, because of water and freezing temperatures, that it looked like a bumpy skating rink. So, with the water supply being a constant hassle, we had to be prudent with washing both ourselves and the linen and clothes.

As winter wore on, rumours increased. News filtered in through casual adventurous travellers and the poorly functioning mail. People were being uprooted. Deportations, sometimes with a purpose of forced labour and sometimes just to disorient, were carried out all the time. In winter, this meant danger to life and limb. Jews had no recourse to any appeals. They became a totally helpless people. No laws protected them. Anybody could, and they certainly did, rob them, beat them and kick them around. One almost felt like hunted animals. Only the counsel of other Jews and your intuition helped you along. Scanty news kept on coming from brother and father. Sometimes news came through from the grandfather and aunt who were deported. They were in Plock. They were there, thrown in with other refugees from Dobrzyn, their hometown. By the end of February, there was an official announcement in the press and through the Jewish community council. A ghetto was designated. It encompassed an area in the poorest part of the city. It was the section where we were living. It also included, through an access road, the cemetery and a railway siding.

Normally it housed in very poor conditions about half the Jewish population of Lodz. The industrial part was on the other side of town. The sanitation and living conditions were very poor. It used to be the subject of inquiries and book references. Baluty, as the area was called, was synonymous with dirt, poverty and dilapidation. Of course, the area was also ripe with crime, hooliganism, prostitution and illnesses. For good measure to this picture was added the bad smell of open sewers and outhouses that were on every street and in every house. When we started taking stock of our situation, things looked outright gloomy. Overcrowded as it was already, the area was to receive double its present population. The only relief to this prospect came from the fact that the Polish and German populations that were living in our neighbourhood had to vacate their dwellings. Given the fact that large groups of people from neighbouring towns were sent into Lodz, it didn't really help much to have all the non-Jews leave Baluty. It was just another turn of the ever-tightening stranglehold on us.


July 14, 1993

The winter was hard on us. We were already experiencing shortages of important foods. Meat, dairy products, fish or cheeses and eggs, were difficult to get. They were very expensive and sometimes it was dangerous to get them. We heard stories of live cattle being smuggled in the night. Then the basements of storage shacks in the yards were used as abattoirs. Even potatoes, the staple food of Poland, were hard to procure. The Jewish population was undergoing a metamorphosis. People were looking desperately for a possible place to live in Baluty. Those that were lucky or had protekcja, started paying for new apartments, whilst holding onto their old residences in the centre city. There was a continuous stream of people with bags in their hands. Some carried heavier suitcases on their backs, others still hired hand carts or youngsters with sleighs. Those that were moving earlier had paid for the chance to find a suitable place. Poorer or middle class people were running desperately around to find any abode. It was dangerous to walk in town. As always, the Germans were harassing people. It was getting to be a game of hide and seek. One had to know smaller roads and side streets. These were not frequented too much by the police or hooligans.

Being already close to the surviving line in income, I started going out early in the day to solicit people to let me carry their parcels. I had my faithful sleigh. I used to love it. As a young boy it offered me lots of fun and recreation. I became proficient in my new occupation. It helped the family out a bit. The days were frosty and windy. One had to watch out for frostbites. Our own family moved out of the residence where we spent already a few months. We couldn't get back our old apartment. The city authorities re-zoned the area. We could again go to our old place. The community council gave away our place. There was no appeal. We found again lodging with other acquaintances. It was only two houses away from where we used to live. With the anxiety created by such an influx of new people into an overcrowded district, anything that one could find had to be accepted. The place where we wintered had to be vacated. Close relatives were waiting to move in. With all that going on, we were getting pretty close to the date when the ghetto was to close. Barbed wires were already going up in some border areas. The family was waiting patiently to hear from father. He had been away several months. His letters and messages were becoming cryptic. He wanted desperately to re-unite with us. An occasion presented itself. Auntie's sister, who also lived in Skierniewice but had some ties to Lodz, came to us. She carried a message with her. She knew of an old man, a so-called Volksdeutsche. He had a horse and wagon. His presence on such a job could be offering security. He was supposed to take us to Skierniewice with our belongings. Time was running out. Only a few days were left before the ghetto closed. We packed our things at night, and in the early morning we left Lodz. Although the distance between Lodz and Skierniewice was only 60 kilometres, we were trudging along slowly. By late afternoon the road we were travelling became a scene of excitement. Some passers-by on the other side of the road were warning us of the grave dangers ahead. There was a big roadblock. Jews and others suspected of being Jews were being picked up. We were not sure what to do. Our driver suggested that we stop at a roadside house. We did that. They allowed us, against a payment, to stay in their place for the rest of the evening and night. All the information that they had was of a major operation by the Germans. It was pointless to continue. We somehow sat the night through. The people of the house offered us some food. In the morning we left the house and returned to Lodz. So much for the only attempt to leave the city and join up with father. Auntie's sister left the same day. She had small babies in Skierniewice. In a couple of days later, on May 1st 1940, the ghetto closed us in. Armed sentries were posted around the barbed wire fence. For all intents and purposes we were in a huge prison. It was the first ghetto to be erected in Europe. There were ghettos before. But they were in the Middle Ages. Some people were hopeful that it would be easier to live in the ghetto than in town. There were no other people there but Jews. All the fears of walking the streets would abate. As always in such circumstances, hope was re-emerging. Maybe this will give us a chance to survive. Others were very gloomy. Now, they stated, we are inside a prison. It would be easier for the occupiers to pick us up, anytime they wanted. We faced another chapter in our lives.


July 15, 1993

Outwardly, very little has changed in our lives, when the ghetto was closed and we were shut in. At first it even looked peaceful, comparing it to the just-ended period of continuous anxieties and fears. There were no Germans to be seen. At the wire fences, there were quite a lot of them. They guarded the ghetto in the real style. Every fifty metres was a sentry box. They looked at first as a curiosity. It didn't last long though. They graduated to become a real menace. But in the meantime, the streets were peaceful. There was even a lack of traffic. Horse drawn wagons were delivering food to specially designated stores. There was a certain relief, because direct fear to go out of one's dwelling, ceased abruptly. Lots of new forms of behavioural patterns started off. The novelty of living in a totally Jewish mini-town was new and bred expectations and wonderment.

It might be in place now to try and look back on the 9 months of life under the German occupational yoke, until the ghetto gates closed. Nine months is a classical term for describing human gestation. It came to signify the development process leading to life. Either by fluke or by design, it meant for us a symbolic period between nothing in particular and being shut-in, in an enclosed conclave. Is there a comparison? These and similar musings come to my mind as I look back on those days. To be more precise, I want to state that really it was only 8 months since the outbreak of the war. Taking into account the preceding weeks before hostilities began it just makes the round figure of 9 months, a fitting description. We were living up until the fateful days of August 1939 in a world that meant for us: continuity, life style, family closeness, idealistic desires, business ambitions, and many, many more forms of life and behaviour. Ours was a family of secular orientation. Since I can remember, there was always a certain schism between the grandparents and my parents. The grandparents were on both sides very orthodox and observant Jews. As was the case with many families, they lived in small towns right across Poland. Industrialization and the impoverishment of the countryside forced many old established families and single people to look to the big cities as a source of possibilities for the future. My grandparents (my father's parents) moved to Lodz from a nearby small town Ujazd. I think all the children were born there. They came to Lodz when father, who was the oldest son, was a young boy. The other grandparents stayed on in the small town Dobrzyn. My parents met at the time when there was hunger in Lodz in 1916. Father's parents, along with many others, left Lodz in the war. They were looking for places where food was more readily available. So, from a casual wartime encounter, a marriage followed. The younger sets of many traditional families didn't want to follow the old established ways of life. Too much of new thoughts and ideals enveloped the whole society around them. Although not by any means confined to Jews, the Jewish youth looked for new ways to cope with daily life and started forming associations and clubs to give voice to those concerns.


July 16, 1993

So, we are going through the life story of our family. It was definitely built around the post First World War reality. Although born in 1924, I was already the second sibling. My first recollections are of a market square in front of our residence in a suburb of Lodz: Gornyrynek. Maybe my admiration for horses and peasants stems from those early years. I remember talking to the animals. Their constant moving their heads up and down signified for me the mute answers the horses were giving. I remember those days fondly. It also stuck in my mind the uproar that the stabilization of the Polish currency created. Of course, it is a vague recollection only. I remember being fond of making speeches. The price for a speech used to be a butterfly. My willingness to get up on a chair and speak comes, I believe, from having been taken many times to be present at public meetings. My speeches were usually starting the same way as the public speakers, at the meetings my parents took me to. But so many little impressions crowd into my mind, that I can only pick out some. In a while, I recall being already at another address. It was in the very district that we lived until the war started, and that was also the place that the ghetto was designated in.

I can't recall any changes to the life style that was followed in our house. It was the life style of secular Jewish people. There was always hustling and bustling, about Jewish oriented and socialist inspired activities. There were changes brought about, at a later stage. But for a while I remember being a little boy with lots of friends. The family and the extended family of the friends and comrades of the parents, provided a pleasant atmosphere. I attended kindergarten and graduated to become a pupil in the Jewish Secular School system. My brother too went through the same process. My sister was too little to be enrolled anywhere yet. Following the change of city government, father lost his position as an official in the municipal health system. That was when the socialist majority of city hall was toppled.

Not being able to find alternative employment, the family moved to Dobrzyn. Life was very different there than the hustle of life in Lodz. Dobrzyn was a small town. Lodz was a big industrial city. My parents engaged themselves in Dobrzyn to a new way of life. They became partners with grandfather Abraham in a market venture. Dobrzyn was a market town for the local county. Both partners put up a stand at the market, selling textiles. Father was the buyer. Having a sound knowledge of fabrics, he knew also where to buy. He was in the weaving trade all his adult life. Mother with the three of us, stayed in Dobrzyn approximately three years. I don't know exactly, but I suspect, that they made a living but not too much of one. For us, however, it was a new life in new surroundings. Mother was very much at home in her home town. The three siblings: my brother, sister and I were discovering new friends. We were also discovering lots about nature. It was a picturesque town, along the river Drweca. It also had an ancient Crusader castle on a nearby hill. With all the eagerness of young children we embraced our new life. We also had some close relatives besides grandfather and grandmother Sheina. So I went to the local school and became a local boy. The same went for my brother. My sister was too little to go to school yet. It was a pleasant time for the youngsters. Always, lots to do. The surrounding countryside offered unlimited opportunities for play, games, swimming and exploration.

After three years we returned to Lodz. Prospects for a job improved. We had to leave grandparents, auntie Deborah, uncle Chaim, uncle Benjamin-Isser, cousin Goldie and numerous second cousins, great uncle and great aunt and lots of further distant relatives. Besides that, we also managed to make lots of friendships and acquaintances. All this treasure of closeness and happiness was left behind. Although we visited Dobrzyn quite often in the following summers, the closeness of those three years remains with me until today.


July 17, 1993

Lodz, upon re-entering it, was the same grey city of smoke and overcrowding. For me, though, it was already a different place. I was older and more observant. I noticed the squalor and dirt of that part of Lodz where we lived before. We came back to Baluty. It was only there that we could find rentable premises. We moved to a small house, with a garden in the back. However, the garden was out of bounds for the tenants. Only the landlord and his family were allowed to enjoy the bit of shade and greenery that was around. It was a mysterious place. We had all sorts of imaginative pictures of the garden. As far as things went, a garden in Baluty was a rarity. So, like Moses in the legends, we could only catch a glance of the enchanted place. We couldn't enter it.

Instead of shade and different smells to the putrid ones around us, we got a noisy apartment. The windows were right at one of the busy streets and plenty of dampness. We later on joked about being able to go on sleigh rides right in our own apartment. But it was on the walls and not on the pleasant hills of Dobrzyn. It was a cold, noisy place. Under our apartment, there was a small sausage maker. The combination of all those new elements in our life made us all the more regret the open spaces of the countryside.

My school was a long way from home. I wasn't able to be placed in the same school as my brother. There simply wasn't any room. My sister was enrolled in the same school that I attended before we left Lodz. For me there was an unbridgeable gap in standards. My previous school was a Yiddish school, with Yiddish as the language of tuition. During the three years in Dobrzyn I only studied school subjects in Polish. So I started school. It was in some ways a replica of home conditions. Small, cramped, stinking outhouse toilets, and plenty of dampness.

Lots of those endearing terms about my school come to my mind now, being 9 years old didn't somehow allow me to be critical. I soon made friends. The teachers were a mixture of pleasant and choleric people. But in no time the life of a schoolboy took its course. Similar experiences were had by my brother and sister. My sister Esther's school was the one that I envied more than my brother David's. The atmosphere and pupils in the Medem School were very close to my home environment.

So, some time passed. I soon graduated from being a little boy to become a member in the SKIF movement. That was the children's branch of the wide sprawling Bundist movement. My brother has already been there a while. Mother was a member of the YAF, the women's branch of the movement. My father was a very active Bundist and trade unionist all his adult life. I felt good and elevated to become one of the members of the Bundist family. With Esther's going to the Medem School, the circle was completed. The school had a wonderful name. Its modern approach to education and deep commitment to humanity and socialism, made my sister's school years a real point of admiration in her life as well as in the whole family's life.


July 18, 1993

After we moved back to Lodz, we still kept close contact with Dobrzyn. Compared to the smoky air of Lodz, Dobrzyn and its environs were a balmy experience. The number of tall smoke stacks I don't know. I only know if anything was forever visible in Lodz, it was smoking chimneys. Because the city was full of textile manufacturing plants fired on coal, we, the inhabitants of the second largest city in Poland, were continuously treated to heavy pollution and stench. Textiles required lots of water for washing, dying and steam. Such water was available only in a minute way, through the only narrow body of water that ran through Lodz. It was so narrow and filthy that it was aptly called the sewer. The rest had to be found in the proliferation of wells. But the stench of the chemicals used to process the raw and semi-finished fabrics was everywhere.

To get out of Lodz became almost a must for anybody that could somehow do it. Even if only for the duration of the summer.

We too followed this kind of logic. So, come the summers, we went off to Dobrzyn. Mostly it was just the siblings. That was the case when mother started to work too. As summer was a busy time in the textile industry, the bread winners had to stay behind. Those days were usually heydays. Romping around the river and the games with other youngsters filled our days. When mother wasn't working yet, she would of course be with us.

Those summers finished for me at the age of 13. By Jewish custom, a boy attaining that age became a man. That meant a Bar Mitzvah ceremony in the synagogue. It also meant daily attendance at prayer meetings, besides putting on in the morning the ritual Tefilim.

All those things were more than my parents thought was right for a son of a secular family. I was never sent to a cheder (religious instruction school). So, in order not to hurt grandparents' feelings, both my brother and I were not visiting with the grandparents after the 13th birthday. My brother had already stopped going there almost soon after we returned to Lodz. The organization SKIF to which I belonged, kept on organizing summer camps. It's to such camps that I went since my 13th birthday. The summer camps were for a long time already enticing my attention. So, I entered the summer of 1937 full of expectations.


July 19, 1993

The first experience of living in a children's republic was exhilarating. The very word: children's republic made a very impression. On top of it was the middle name to it. It was in fact: Children's Socialist Republic. We were assigned groups. Every morning a plan for the day was announced. Of course there were older people to run the feeding, administration and health and sanitary concerns. The planning of activities, cultural, physical fitness, sports, educational and others were done through joint commissions. The guarding of the camp was arranged by posting groups of two's along the perimeter of the campgrounds. This had to be kept up, especially for the nights. We did have quite a number of hooligans interfering with our campers. There were turbulent times. Anti-Semitic gangs and even political parties engaged in Jew-bashing activities. Nazi Germany had already stimulated an otherwise not too tolerant Polish nationalist milieu. In spite of reports of frequent attacks on Jews of all ages, we were full of zest. We were getting into the real spirit of comradely inspired living. Our camp fires and outings, coupled with explorations of the other participating contingents, made life an ongoing joy. Groups of children came from three cities, with token delegations from other places. It was all new and exciting. The camp took place on the banks of the river Vileyka. It was not too far from Vilno. The very fact of being at the other end of Poland was a pleasure. Especially since Vilno was always in my imagination an outstanding place. Both from the Bundist lore and Jewish associations, Vilno was a beacon of inspiration. Even the Polish history is resplendent with references to Lithuania and its largest city. To go to the vicinity of that famous place was a tingling sensation. We were very thrilled when our respected comrade Artur Zygelboim came to our camp. He addressed us all at a big bonfire. His stature outlined by the glowing embers made his appearance almost prophetic. His speech was no less imposing. It generally exalted the gathered hundreds. We all felt elevated. Like many such events, it didn't pass without some incidents. We had a rowing boat overturn in the middle of a lake. We were just shipping ourselves across a huge lake. Thank goodness nobody was hurt. Just fear for the overturnees. But all came out well. But instead of getting to our destination across the lake, we had to skirt it on foot. It took a long time and it was very hot. When we finally arrived at our destination, Troki, we rested up and had to face an attack by some hooligans. One of our leaders got hit with a rock in his head. Again, luckily, it wasn't serious. We visited the ancient town of Troki. Historically it's very valuable and many a battle and skirmishes are associated with it. It also had for us another significance. An old community of Karaites lived there. These were the remnants with a few other scattered communities across Poland, of the ancient sect of Jews who refused to follow strict rabbinical injunctions. They had a synagogue there. It wasn't like the customary synagogues. These people lived a very closed in life. They were actually treated much better than Jews by the Nazis. It's hard to say why. The visit to this Karaite sect added some new dimension to our Jewish knowledge. On the way back I remember being so tired that I actually fell asleep walking. We arrived back very late. It was an eventful outing.

Our stay at the camp was marred by news from home. My friend's father and my father were arrested in Lodz. The intervention of A. Zygelboim managed to spare my father being sent to the notorious Polish concentration camp Kartuz-Bereza. My friend's father was not so lucky. He and at least one other comrade that lives now in New York City were sent there. They came back and looked as if they saw another dimension. They weren't talking about their experiences. They were told on pain of being sent there again to keep silent. But it was common knowledge what kind of awful place this was. A blot on Poland's conscience. At the end of our camping period, we visited Vilno. It was a beautiful city and a beautiful experience. The old streets, the historical landmarks, the Jewish quarter and so many more points of interest made that journey the most meaningful experience in my youthful days.

Upon returning to Lodz, I went back to school for the last school year.


July 20, 1993

My brother also went to a summer camp. This one was between Lodz and Dobrzyn. Except for a real scare because of a girl drowning there, their camp was pleasant, according to his relating. My sister went to Dobrzyn. Being a girl and not yet of the specifically detailed obligations that traditional Judaism imposes on both boys and girls, she and mother spent some time in Dobrzyn. The year that followed my first camp experience was full of events. Although the economic situation improved somehow, the political spectrum kept on getting cloudier and heavier. Polish inner politics as well as foreign relations, vacillated between outright reactionary and pro-fascist to a little more liberal. There were the natural fears of having its western neighbours express constant hints as to some territorial changes. There were also the influence of the western powers like England and France. We, as Polish citizens with our position as an ethnic minority, were tossed about between the various twists of policy fluctuations. The civil war in Spain and the war in Ethiopia and between Albania and Italy added constant anxiety. My own observations were of course coloured by discussions at the dinner table. But I also began to see for myself the outlines of the opposing forces. Liberal and socialist democratic factions were being pushed back forcefully by many vicious, dark forces. The spectacle of the witch hunting trials in Russia added more reasons for anxiety. All those events were being digested and pondered over. It was done at home. It was done in the SKIF. It was the constant talk amongst our friends. I remember being deeply troubled by what was going on. There was renewed speculation at home as to the desirability of emigrating. My uncle, the younger brother of father's, had settled since 1933 in Argentina. Quite a lot of people left Poland in the 1930's. First the concern for the grandparents and then the financial difficulties added an element of reluctant delay in pursuing this avenue. My uncle in Lodz was also trying to arrange for emigration. He had no trade as he was an administrator and journalist for the Bundist newspaper. Buenos Aires was a place where those that went there were mostly textile craftsmen. He took courses.

I don't remember the exact reason why, with all the talk about it, it never went further than just talk. I found out after the war, when I went to visit my relatives in Buenos Aires, that my uncle couldn't bring himself to spend some hard worked for money on financing the passage of our families. On his confession to me, he is forever having deep conscience pangs. He said that instead of getting a dining room set, he should have spent the money to expedite his family's emigration. Maybe that is the true reason why we stayed on. Maybe there were other reasons too. It will remain an unanswered question.


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