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Murray Ressler was born in the village called Ruzanka near Strzyzow - Wielepole
- Fryztak to Chiam and Gitel Ressler - Kirshenblut. Here is his story:
I was the youngest of 7
children the oldest was Hersh named after our grandfather, my fathers father,
then was Isaac he was named after my mothers father we called him, then came my
sister Faiga she was named after my grandmother my fathers mother, then came
Sally - Sally was named after my mothers mother, then came Pinchas he died as a
child of Scarlet Fever, which was an epidemic then in Poland, then came Rose.
Rose was named after an aunt that died after giving birth of a child; she was
married to Benjamin Baumehl, then I came. I was named after (uncle) Moshe Aron Zilber .
Hersh and Feiga Ressler, my grandparents, had 6 children, Zelda - Rifka - Hinda - Raizel or Rose, Chiam my father and Sol. Zelda - married David Dembitzer and they had 6 children, I will try to go by family so I don't miss anyone. Sarah - Hilda - Ita - Shaindel - Azik and Ben. Sarah, Hilda, and Ben came to America before world war 2. Sarah married to Harry Baim and they had 2 children, Roslin and Jesse. Jesse lives in California has 2 children. Roslin also has 2 children Uncle David, Aunt Zelda, Azik, Ita perished in the Holocaust.
Rivka Ressler Zilber: Rivka married Moshe Aron Zilber whom I am named after they had 3 boys, 1 girl: Pinchas Shia Mendel and Sarah. All except my uncle perished in the Holocaust. Moshe Arron died of natural death.
Hinda Ressler Baumehl: Hinda was the second wife to Benjamin Baumehl I mentioned before about. Rose-Raizel whom my sister Rose is named after, that she died after giving birth. Well by Jewish law if there was a sister she had to marry the husband or the husband had to marry her sister. So Hinda and Benjamin had 7 children, 4 boys and 3 girls, Srulek - Joseph or Yosele, Moshe - Hersh, (Chache - Lipka and Faiga). Joseph or we call him Yosale is the only one that survived the Holocaust all the rest Parents and all children and grandchildren perished. One son in law husband of Chache survived in Russia. I have never seen him I understand he lived and died in Israel. Yosale after the was found his sweetheart with whom he was going out before the war. He went through different concentration camps and so did his girlfriend Bertha. I met Bertha while we were in camp in Pkashow near Krakow shortly after the war. I was in Krakow I walk on the street and I see a young lady and she looked so familiar to me and could not remember who she was and continued walking, then I said to myself why don't I ask her I turned around and started to run after her then I recognized her and asked her about Yosole she told me then that he survived and is in Italy she followed him to Italy and married him there. Then in 1949 or 1950 they came to America and live in Brooklyn (Boro Park) and live there now. Yosale and Berthe have 2 children boy and girl, Shaindy and Benjamin. Shaindy has 6 children and Benji has 1 set of twins, boy and girl and a girl total 3 as of now.
Family from my mothers side. I am sorry to say I did not know any. I only know my mother had one brother Jacov (Jancie) a sister Brandel and another sister Malka (Malcie). My mother came from Lezansk. I have never been in Lezansk and for some reason I don't remember meeting any of my relatives from my mothers side. I only have 3 pictures left from the whole family. All have perished in the Holocaust. That's all I know Sorry.
Life in Poland before the War
Until the war I went to public school and Hebrew school in Strzyzow all week; I lived at uncle David's and Aunt Zelda's house since it was to far to walk everyday to school. Jewish education was very important in our lives so all boys stayed with one relative or the other in Strzyzow; and the girls got private tutors at home to learn Hebrew, to public school they went in the village. It was a dull life for my parents and my older sisters and brothers since the last few years we were the only Jewish family in this village. For Saturday and High Holy days we got together with Jews from neighboring villages to make minian, ten men.
My mother operated a piecegoods store and groceries or you would call it a general store since we were selling cigarettes and tobacco and some hardware. My father took care of the small farm. He had tried to wheel and deal to help make a living. I remember the Gentiles used to come in and bring a few eggs and trade for cigarettes tobacco sugar or salt. Life was hard very often the store was broken into and emptied out. I remember one time my brother Icie, slept near the window and heavy shutters fell on him and he did not wake up; we asked what if they would take you out, you would never know.
My parents hated to live in the village, and always talked soon the children grow up we will move to Krakow. In spite of all we lived a happy life, the family was extremely close, it came Saturday we had a real day of rest, all boys came home and we had a real Shabat day. Singing zmirot boys and girls together after dinner many time the Gentiles stopped and listened in. Years went by, my brother Hersh learned a trade he became a tailor; Izak moved to Krakow also Sally moved to Krakow got jobs; my sister Faiga got engaged so things began to look better and dreams became closer to move out.
Then the war broke out and hell broke loose. For the first year we in the village did not feel it so much, but in Strzyzow it started out Jews had to go to forced labor everyday. Jews had to turn in all gold, all furs. I remember us being told one family did not turn in a piece of fur one person was shot for it. And things became worse and worse. I remember one time the Nazis made a round up in the village for men to work forced labor on the road to tar; the road in Dobrzechow, between Strzyzow and Frysztak and my brother Issac and I wound up between all gentiles. Since we spoke Yiddish so we could understand better German then the rest of the gentiles, my brother became the interpreter for the Germans and I was working on the road. The Germans found out that the two of us were Jest, all Gentiles were permitted to go home for the Weekend; we were not permitted to go home. One day a young seaman came over to me and said you Jew you must load 2 cars in the time the Gentiles loaded one and stayed over me all the time with a whip. The gentiles going home the weekend stopped at our house and said to my mother you have to do something to get him out of there before they kill him, but somehow I survived the few weeks until the road was finished and they let us all go home. In the first few days the was broke out my two brothers were called in the army to was I remember saying goodbye and running away; not making it hard on my parent. My father served 6 years in WW I so he know what was about. Anti-Semitism in Poland was always there; after WW I the Poles started to make pogroms and were looking for Jews to hate and kill, my father was hiding in the attic when the poles cam in the house looking for my father, my brother must have been 5 or 5 1/2 years old and said I wont tell that my daddy is hiding in the attic so my father had to jump down through a window and escaped. A neighbor named Jankel I don't know the last name was beaten up so bad that he died after a short while. Speaking of anti-Semitism I remember when I was in public school the Jewish boys were made to sit in last bench and during bread period hoodlums kids came over and made us do calisthenics. If we went to the teacher to complain he or she looked away.
After about 3 weeks Hersh and Issac came home from the army; Poland was taken over it was not much of a fight. A lot of the officers were bribed I remember one of my brothers were saying the German planes were flying so low that you could shoot him down with a rifle; the officer was saying in polish these are our planes. A soldier took a pistol and shot him to death. It was so obvious the Nazis marking on the wings. We lived in the village until the fall of 1941; in Oct or Nov 1941 we were made to move out of our house leave everything behind and move to one of the neighboring towns called Frysztak; the Germans wanted to make sure they have all the Jews in one place. My parents made me stay behind to work on a farm for a polak maybe it will be Better; for me then to be in town and have to go to forced labor. My brother Hersh also did not want to go to town he was going around to different farmers sewing clothing for them and that's how he was surviving day by day. I don't remember if Icia stayed in the village or he went to Frysztak, I just don't remember. Anyway we were surviving living from day to day. My father had a long beard; the Germans if they saw a Jew with a beard they could take a knife and cut the beard of, if a piece of flesh went with it, it was OK too; so dad cut off the beard himself. It was a big thing to him it was a religious custom he had never shaved his beard, it was very degrading or belittling to him. The family lived in Frysztak until the liquidation of the town, meaning (Juden frie) free of Jews. The Gestapo gave an order on the 18th day of Tammuz on the Jewish calendar, corresponding with July 3, 1942, all Jews, men women children young and old, had to report to the auction place were you sold horses cows and pigs, I assume because it was fenced around. Everyone, the whole town of Jews every one, the Rabbis the Judges the merchants the rich and poor, no Jewish soul was left at home - except my brother Hersh. He was very liked by every one all gentiles gave him food like I mentioned before he made different clothing for them and he believed he will beat the system. The day before we had to report is a fast day of 17th day of Tammuz. I can honestly say that there was no Jew in town that did not fast, the fear of the unknown was unbelievable. We were lined up and the Gestapo was walking around up and down and started to give orders and women men over age of 70 to step out they were led out of the Targovica place, the market place then they called women with 5 and 6 children or more to step out, and they were led down and so they took and 2 or maybe 3 thousand men women and children and put them on trucks to the forest in Wazyce and shot them all, and buried in a mass grave including my mother. My mother was young yet but she looked worried of course and tired so they took her out too.
Everyone thought that the people that they selected out, the old and the children and the weak were sent home so there were mothers that did not have enough children that were called out so they borrow from friends children so they can go home so they thought, unfortunately. The young men were all loaded on trucks 150 or so men on each truck on military trucks like the American trucks were packed standing like herring, you could not move and took off, where we didn't know. My brother and others said lets lean to one side so when the truck will get to a curve the truck will turn over and we will be able to run away, but many were against it they were afraid they will get killed from the fall. The truck traveled about an hour or so I don't remember exactly, and came to a stop, we stood still for a while and looking out we could see a fenced around place and a gate to enter with a guard and weapon. The trucks were standing on the outside of the tergovica, the Gestapo was waking around with guns in the holsters and comes, if someone fell they grabbed him or her and pulled them up by the neck down to the trucks like dogs. The trucks were taking away the old and children they left and came back they were loaded up and came back empty standing on the place we thought they are taking the old and the children home and the able bodyed will be taken to work. The letters KL on Jacks arm stood for (Konsetracions Lager) concentration camp.
Looking out we could also see two men carrying someone on a stretcher. After a while the trucks started up and turned around and we traveled again for an hour or so and stopped. This time they opened the curtain and ordered us to get off, after every one was off they asked do you want to work - of course everyone said yes, now you can go home and we will call you again. Only then did we find out about the tragedy what happened to all the elder of the town and all the children and my mother including. We found out that the place we saw fenced around was Pustkow near Dembice a working camp which was very bad, Uncle Jack was there you probably saw the letter KL on his arm. When I say you I mean our children the second generation. In about a week or so we were called again (the men) only it is odd that I don't remember how we were transported I believe it was by train in cattle cars and we wound up in Plaszow that was near Krakow, that is myself my father and my brother Issac. My brother Hersh was still in the village around where we lived and working for the farmers sewing for food and shelter, he never showed up in any of the places we had to report.
My cousin Yosale was in the same camp he was there before we got there I don't know what town he came from, maybe from Krakow because he was working and living there. At that time somehow for money he managed to get my father out of camp and send him back home to Frysztak where my 3 sisters were. In Krakow Jews lived in the ghetto, most of the Polish Jews were put in ghettos together in one part of town cramped so the Germans could have easy control over them. Many Jews from smaller towns were evacuated to other towns or cities to keep them together.
In the fall around Oct. or Nov. 42 rumors were going around that the ghetto in Frysztak will be liquidated. My brother Hersh hearing about it wanted to save the family so he went around the village asking the farmers if he could bring his sisters to hide out for a few weeks until everything blows over, he honestly believed that after a while every one will be able to return home. After all that had happened no one could understand that a whole city could be liquidated. I must mention that Frysztak was the first city from all the neighboring towns that the Germans took thousands of people and shot them in the forest. My brother found a couple of farmers in the village that wanted to help him and agreed he should bring them over and they will give them shelter, he divided the family one here and one there. One of the places was at Michal Swenton's house in the village of Mievodna that Sally and Rose was. My sister Phyllis and my father was by someone else. He brought over to Swenton as much as he could, clothing pillows comforters sheets whatever he thought they might need. After a couple of weeks Faiga started to complain that she is alone and very lonely and cried to him, so he asked Swenton if it would be possible he should bring over Phyllis to his house because she is very lonely by herself and he agreed. After a while my father also wound up to be in the same place, so the family was together. Father and 2 girls and he Herse was going around (sawing??) and bringing in different things supplies for the family. Swentons family consisted of one son and one daughter, Pietrek and Bronia. Pietrek was then about 27 years old and Bronia about 23. Bronia and Pietrek were working on the farm and the father was taking care of his orchard; he loved his orchard; he had apples, pears, and beautiful cherry trees; he used to sell a lot of fruit and made good money from the orchard. We used to call Mr. Swenton the father to Pietrek and Bronia (Dziadku) meaning grandpa. The house was standing on a hill by itself with only one other house about 100 yards away with one man living in it, I believe he was retarded or something I don't believe any one of us met him. The house had 1 main room a hallway going across the whole house one side were the living quarters on the other side was the stable for the cows and a large pantry. On the outside of the house was a dog tied on a chain to a tree his name was Subush; I still have a picture of him, I feel he had a lot to do us staying alive. Michaw Swenton the father was illiterate; he could not read or write and so was Pietrek. Mr. Swenton was in America I know the years but it must have been in the early 20's; he was working very had in the steel mills and saved every penny, he came back to Poland and bought his farm for that money, he was considered a well to do farmer. The story goes when he was working in the steel mill he got drunk once and got in trouble and was arrested, not knowing anyone he stayed in jail and the man in a grocery store where he shopped found out that he is in jail so he went to the police and bailed him out; the Store keeper was Jewish so maybe for that he helped us. Icia had stayed in Ptreshaw working until sometimes in November, rumors when around that Krakow will be liquidated of Jews and all Jews from Krakow will be send to concentration camps or be killed.
In Ptrashow I was working very hard we were digging ditches carrying railroad tracks on the shoulders and have very little food. I was looking for food in garbage cans. We were marching every day from Ptreshow to Prokocim to work. Our watch men were soldiers in black uniforms; they were Ukrainians who were Nazi Gestapo helpers. One day one of our workers a Jew had a bad headache he walked over to the foreman also a German but he wore an armband on his sleeve and asked him if he could lie down for a few minutes, the foreman allowed him to lay down, he went near the tool shed and laid down. The guard in the black uniform passed by and saw a Jew lying down takes out his carbine and shoots at him, his first bullet hit him in the arm he stood up with his arm dangling down then he shot him again to death without bothering asking why or what. His bullets must have been shattering bullets because his arm was shattered not shot through. This was the first time I saw anyone shot.
I remember we were working in the trenches in water knee high with swollen legs from standing in water and mud someone figured out is was Yom Kippor we had not much food anyway but we fasted. My brother Hersh- someone from the people he worked betrayed him called the Gestapo and they caught him, locked him in a pantry in one of the farmers homes; he got out they caught him again and shot him on the cemetery in Frysztak, so we were told by Bronia.
To the best of our knowledge there is no cemetery or graves left in Frysztak. When we were in Bronias house she used to say when she felt bad she went to Hersh's grave so she felt better. Where there was a grave we don't know from people that were in Frysztak after the war we know there is no cemetery.
We were liberated only maybe 10-15 kilometers from Frysztak but had the fear to go to town even after the war, Why? I come to it in the writing. While Icaia and I were in Ptaszew and my father and family at the Swenton's House, Mr. Swenton says to my father he heard that all the Jews from Krakow - Ptaszaw will be liquidated, send for the boys lets save them, Hersh was dead then already, Icia and I did not know, then. My father sent us a note by messenger since we could not receive any mail, that we should try to escape from Plaszow and come to Swenton. During the time we were in Ptaszow my father sent us food packages. Going to work from Plaszow to Prokocim we purchased 2 tickets on the train, from Ptaszow to Dembice my Father gave us exact land marks and name where they are. For awhile we took time to organize ourselves 10 or 11 men from Frysztak also wanted to run away from camp, my brother and I had a destination where to go the others did not. The other men also bought tickets on the train, we were all going to run away the same day and travel together on the same train but not in the same cars, because if one gets caught the other should try to same himself, each one for himself one could not save help the other if the Nazis-Gestapo would catch. The days were very cold in November the trains were very full no room inside; we got to the station trying to get on the train there was no room, somehow I got on the step outside and held on to the handle and the train started to move. The train is moving faster and faster and I see Slomek Lambrik running he can not get on, he runs beside me I give him my hand to help him get on he can't get on he pulls me off the train, we both run after the train finally we got on the step. With no room inside se stayed on the step holding on not to fall off and freezing cold you change hands not to get frost bitten. After a while we separated ourselves not to be on the same car, I traveled like that for approximately 90-100 kilometers till Dembice. In Dembice most of the passengers got off I was also supposed to get off at this station, but I looked around and I see full of Gestapo police in the station I decided not to get off with my shabby cloths that will give me away that I am a Jew. I figured I will go to the next station and get of there, all of us were supposed to get off in Dembice but no one did, they were thinking the way I did, it is too dangerous with all the Gestapo around. With most of the people getting off I finally got inside the train sat down and started to warm up. All the way the conductors didn't check our tickets, the cars were too crowded to pass by, now there is lots of room the conductor is going around and checks the tickets, he comes to me and asks for my ticket. I show him I have a ticket to Dembice and I want to go to the next station and I will pay the difference. He looks at me from top to bottom and says no, you wait here I will be right back! As soon he walked away from me I moved to a different car I know he knows I am a Jew and went to get police and that will be all, the end of my life. I sat in the car for a while all of a sudden the train blows its whistle and stops. I think this is my best chance to get away get off the train before the police will get me at the next station. I got off the train lied down near the track and waited until the train will pull away. I felt I was all alone dark and not knowing, where I was or which way to go, I called out aloud Ignac a polish name for Icie I called once and twice I hear someone calls back here here, I was relieved I was not alone, all the others that got away from camp got out on the other side of the train and ran away from the train, every one had the same idea to get off in Dembica as I said before it was dangerous. We started to walk towards the destination each wanted to go to the vicinity of Frysztak all were from the same town. One man Mr. Migayer know this territory he was leading us. After walking a while we see a German guard in a booth we realized that we were at a small airport, quietly we walked out of the airport and kept walking until daybreak, during the daytime we stayed in the woods and rested. Next evening we started to walk again we walked again all night actually it was not so far where we got off the train to Frysztak, but we had to walk through woods and fields not to be seen by anyone. After two nights and days Icia and I separated ourselves from the rest of the group so we can go to the place where the rest of the family was. Finally we found the house on top of a hill by itself with only a little house a few hundred meters away, we got inside the house we were met by Mr. Swenton and then he called in the rest of the family we kissed of course and looked at each other and we could see the sad faces we know something was wrong. That was when we found out Hersh was no more alive. The day Hersh was caught it was the 1st day of the month of Cheshvon 1942. Mr. Swenton son and daughter decided it was too dangerous for my family to be with them maybe the person that gave out (betrayed) Hersh also knew about the family where they are and also call the Gestapo. Pietrek decided to take them to the woods which were not too far from their house. They took along blankets some food whatever they could Pietrek with tears in his eyes. I said don't worry Hersh is not here no more but I will take care of you, with tears in his eyes. A couple of nights passed Pietrek came and said come home because it's cold and you will die here, and he took them back home.
He made a hiding place on the attic between straw that was kept for the cows for the winter. During the day they stayed in the stable with the cows and they slept in the hiding place. When Icia and I came to live with them it was decided we have to make a better hiding place. We decided to make one underground. We dug a hole about 8' x 5 x 4 1/2 ' deep in the pantry. Pietrek was carrying out at night the dirt to dispose of it not leaving any fresh dirt noticeable. On top was standing a large bin with different farm products like wheat, rye flour as usual in a farm pantry prepared for the whole winter. Next to the pantry was the stable for the cows, we decided to make the entrance from there. The cover or the door we made from the same wood as the rest of the floor, matched exactly; to cover the seams or the crack we tacked on straw and made it dirty with manure to match the look of the stable. The walls were wet so we put straw against it and with moldings or sticks if we had no molding. The floor was also wet, the straw was rotting and smelled damp, but it did not matter we did not smell it. We stayed at the Swentons almost 2 years, over the 2 years we had many many Happenings; once Icie wanted to smoke a cigarette during the day, not to leave the smoke or smell of cigarettes he went in the kitchen and let the smoke in the stove to go out through the chimney. On the way back to the stable he stopped in the hallway and looked out through a crack at the door, he meets with someone eye to eye and the person says open don't worry, of course he did not open the door he calls out again open the door don't worry, till today we never found out who that person was. We have decided to stay watch inside the house in all four corners of the house, we were pulling guard like in the army. If anyone was approaching the house we went into the bunker, it did not matter who it was, men child or any living person. At the beginning when the girls were there with father they were a little negligent and not used to lock the door at all times, one time a man walked in and of course he sees Sally and Rose or Faiga and stays startled not saying a word, and the girls did not say anything after a few seconds he asked where is Pietrek and he walked out. The man was a boy that went to school with one of my sisters and of course know who they were and was shocked to see Jewish girls. He worked as a farm hand only a few houses away whenever he came close to the house he would call about Pietrek Pietrek and made sure he does not see them again; he know that Jews are hiding out but did not want to know. Once during the summer Dziadek, Mr. Swenton is outside picking fruit off the ground a polish police officer is coming up the hill we see him coming of course we go in to the bunker and closed the bunker up we never opened the bunker until someone of the Swienton family knocked giving us a signal to open up, saying the coast is clear. After about 10 or 15 minutes we head 3 knocks meaning come out its OK we open the door and come in the sable and see a big grin on Mr. Swentons face and he says, come lets have a drink of wine. After we had a drink he says you know I was outside and did not see the policeman coming. Least I see you are watching yourselves you saw him coming I did not. The policeman came up close and tapped him on the shoulder and he was very scared he came sudden.
There were many times when Mr. Swienton got disgusted and said go away I had enough, the war will never end and if you get caught they will kill us all. I am old I had my life but what are my children guilty of. So at the beginning we still had some American dollars so my father took out and gave him some to appease him, American money was special to him. The man was totally right, we had nowhere to go we were the Jews destined to die if we were sent away it was almost sure death, if we would not be caught by the Germans the poles would give us out. The poles were not sympathetic to the Jews, even though we lived in a village and farmers came to play cards in our house almost every night we had no trust in any one, there were cases were poles would give out Jews for 1 kilo of sugar of reward.
Swentens house was only a few kilometers from our house we never knew him, only from contact that my brother Hersh made during the time he worked for them. To be two years hiding out like this is a lifetime, to be honest we did not think we will ever live through the war and be able to talk about it. My father was the only one that kept our morale up, sitting in the bunker the cloth was wearing out on the knees, once he said to my sister Feiga take a patch and put on the knees so the dress will last longer; my sisters answer was if I will live through I will walk out naked.
We had no contact with the outside world, no radio, no newspaper; we only relied what the Swienton's told us, sometimes we could hear the artillery guns so we were hoping they would come closer, if the guns were louder Mr. Swenton said it wouldn't be too long the Nazis will be defeated, if they got quieter he said the war will never end. The time was going painfully slow and we always heard this one got caught and this one got caught but one thing I must say, we were not hungry at any time; we ate the same thing the family ate. Many Jewish people that were hiding out were starving from hunger, some families did not have enough food to give to eat, and some withheld the food on purpose.
One evening in the summer the Sweinton family went out of the house and we were alone in the house. The dog Subush was tied down on a chain near the house where he always was and the dog started to howl and he howled all the time, it made us very uneasy and because of that we stayed very alert, at first we thought maybe he is crying because the family was not home, but later the family came home and the dog kept on crying. It made us very nervous we stayed at the windows watching out very intense, suddenly next morning we see Germans coming up the hill, of course we jumped in the bunker and stayed there for three or four hours. We hear them talking they were looking for us (for Jews) we hear them say to Bronia if you don't tell us where they are and we find them we will shoot you like a dog, one of them spoke Polish. We are sitting in the bunker afraid to breath they are walking around on top of us. We were running out of oxygen we had a hard time breathing. Icia started to cough we put pillows over his head to keep the noise down. After a few minutes he could not keep it down no more he started to cough out loud we were sure the Germans heard it, all of us thought this is it, they will drag us out of the bunker and will shoot us all. Everybody took a deep breath and we are waiting for them to open the entrance to the bunker. We listen intensely we don't hear anything no walking around no talking total silence, and we wait and wait after a while we started to hear walking again, one person spoke in polish, but no one is opening the door. This search went on for close to four hours and inside the bunker is dark and silent you could hear your own heartbeat we could not see each other so it was better for each of us we could not see the fear on each others faces.
I am not much of a believer in miracles but when we walked out the bunker alive that was a miracle; Bronia told us when the Germans came in to the stable where the door was to the bunker the calf lied down on the door to conceal it so the Germans could not see it, that's a miracle. The dog howling all night that's a miracle, the dog must have felt that we were in danger so in his way he let us know. During the interval of silence that we did not hear any walking or talking, and when Icia started to cough and could not stop they walked out of the house and stable, and went to the barn to search. In the barn my Father or the Swentons had hidden my Father's clothing which was a black (capole) in Yiddish we call it a (ybercier; any way it was distinctively identifiable as Jewish clothing. They started again to look like crazy they came back in to the house and stable and grabbed Bronia and said where are the Jews if you don't tell us where they are we will shoot you like a dog (na Kerkucie) that means on a Jewish cemetery, which is very degrading for Polish people as I mentioned before. This search went on for 3 1/2 or 4 hours until finally they left and promised they will be back. A day or two went by in the evening one of the Nazis is coming up the hill. He comes in the house like a gentleman he sits down and starts flirting with Bronia expressing his love for her, he stayed 2 or three hours and he left. By the way he was the one that spoke polish. When he left he asked Bronia if it is OK for him to come back next evening, of course she told him yes come back with pleasure. For the next 2 or 3 evening he came back and socialized with Bronia, the first night we went in the bunker and stayed there. The second and third night the family told us it is OK to stay in the stable. Bronia told us later they spoke about Jews and the situation the Jews are in, and he expressed himself that he would not hurt a Jew, he would not help a Jew but he would not hurt either, and asked Bronia how she felt about Jews, she answered if she know where Jews are she would turn them in to the authorities they would know best what to do with them.
Time was going slower and slower the Swentons were getting very impatient. After that search we were sitting and thinking how to improve the bunker Icia said lets dig an exit into the outside so if they find the entrance we can run out and maybe we will have a 50-50 chance of survival, so Icia goes in to Iziadek, Mr. Swenton with the new idea. At first he agreed, then at night he thought it over and calls in Icia and says, how smart Jews are! When the Germans find the entrance you will all run out, and me and my children will be shot by the Germans, so the end was no exit (after all he was basically right it could happen).
A few months went by artillery noise was getting louder, maybe the Russians are getting closer to us, maybe after all we will be liberated from the Germans, the expectations were getting high and every one was in a much better mood. After a few days the artillery noise died down and every one was sad and moody again. Mr. Swenton and Bronia were hardly talking to us, we only saw them at meal time. One day Mr. Swenton calls Icia and he says to him, he wants us to leave the house, he can not take it any longer he does not want to jeopardize his children's lives any longer and we should leave. Of course we had no place to go except to the woods, our changes of survival were slim and Mr. Swienton know it as well as we did, but we had no choice. Of course we were very saddened by it and our faces showed it, but like it or not we told him we will leave the next evening. The next day we packed what we will take with us and Mr. Swenton comes over and says, that every time before when I told you to go you cried and said where are we going to go, now I say go and you pack and you are ready to leave after I suffered with you for a year and a half and the war will end soon. So we were allowed to stay and happy to do so.
During our stay at winter time we were more relaxed because snow was very hard, to get on the mountain to the house. In the winter nights I learned to grind rye or wheat in a hand mill; it was called (Zarno) in Polish; instead in a mill the stones were turned by Power this was turned by hand, with one hand you turned the top stone and with the other you deposited a hand full of grain every few seconds and that's how we made flour. The Swientons also grew cotton, so it was dried and taken out the raw material or whatever you call it, and I learned to spin on the machine and make cotton, and then we made sheets from it, the sheets were wet down and put out in the sun so it would get whiter and softer. When I say machine I did not mean a power machine, it was turned by foot and twisted the raw material into thread.
Finally the day came the Russian army is coming in to liberate us out of that hell the Germans are being defeated we will be free people again normal human beings.
Pietrek went into the village to see and hear what is going on, he came back and told us the Russians are coming he saw Russian soldiers on motor bikes going up and down the road so it is only little time that Germans will be out. The next day or so we sat quiet a normal day, where our house was it was quiet like nothing is happening. I decided to go outside and lie down in the tall grass or wheat still being afraid to show the face. Planes were flying and being shot at, shrapnel were falling around but it felt already partially free. The next day or two we have to decide what to do, we decided to send out a patrol like, a front person to the village where our house was. Icia went to the house it was occupied by Russian officers and soldiers, they made headquarters out of it, he introduced himself and told them he is a Jew and this is the house we lived in until the Germans chased us out. He told them that we are a family of 6 persons. They apologized and said they are sorry they can not let us in the house because they have all the equipment set up and the war is still going on. But we should come and they will see to it we should have where to stay. Icia came back to the Swientons gave us the whole report and the next day or so we are going home we are really free.
The Russians gave us a house to live in very close to headquarters we still had the fear for the Poles, our neighbor so called our friends. The Russians fed us well and we start to think how to begin life. The next day a young man is coming to us and he says I am a Jew he escaped from a transport and he heard that a Jewish family survived so he looked us up, he was the first Jew we saw. We did not know if any Jews survived! It fest like family so he stayed with us.
A day or two later my father and I walk in the village a man walks over to us says good morning how are you Chaim he know us well and keeps on conversing and then he said to my father you know what Chaim if I would be you, I would go away from here, my father was shocked and says to him Franek, his name was Franek Sliva, Franek what do you mean there are no more Germans here, he says I know but there are still some people that are killing Jews if they catch them. My father says who are these people he says I can't tell you who but run away from here. My father got upset and says to him, you better tell me who those people are, or I will go to the Russian officers and tell them what you said and they will take care of you they will shoot you. Franek did get scared and says there are gangs of A.K. it stands for Armia Krayowa the people Army. Same way we got word that in Rzeszow are some Jews that came out from hiding and woods partisans again; Icia went to Rzeszow to find out what is happening. Franek Sliva was right, some Jews that survived the whole war came to Rzeszow found living quarters and then went back to home towns and villages to find food, and some went to people that left things with them before things got really bad and wanted to get back some clothing some valuables and never came back never. Learning this news we decided to move to Rzeszow to be together with other Jews to be able to think collectively since we were for almost 2 years alone no one to talk to except the family and the Swientons.
In Rzeszow we found Mr. Faust & Ruth her cousins the Magenhaims and the Wetz-Weitz family from Frysztak and every one was telling their experiences how they survived and this went on day after day.
After we moved to Rzeszow Jews did not go to small towns and villages for fear of being killed, my brother Icia wanted to go to our village once more, we have left leather for shoes that our aunt left with us for safekeeping if they survive with a priest that was our neighbor. Icia usually slept in the same house whenever he slept over in the village this time he had a bad feeling he did not go to that house he went in to a barn telling no one and slept over that night. In the morning he went in to a luncheonette for breakfast and every one looks at him and one says you are alive!? We heard there was a shooting going on and that you got killed. Finding out later that they came to the house where Icia usually slept and wanted to kill him but he was not there but a member from that family jumped out the window and was running away and the bandits were shooting after him they thought it was Icia. They did not hit him. After that incident we never went to the village again.
We lived in Rzeszow for several months . I was going to the market selling flint for cigarette lighters usually we traded for clothing or food watches just to get by. We got in contact with our family in America my father had a brother and 2 nieces and nephew and many friends, they said we will send papers for you, but from Poland it was impossible so we moved again to Bytom and tried to go closer to Germany, from Germany is was easier to get papers to America.
During that time the Israel Haganah was working to take out all Jews that wanted to leave Poland and bring them to then Palestine. Poland did not want to let the Polish Jews out of Poland but all other Jews from all over the world that were in concentration camps in Poland could cross over the border with no problem so we traveled as Greek Jews. We destroyed our ID and the Haganah helped us cross the border. We had had a couple of pictures which were signed in polish for memory so we cut the writing away so the border guards should not find out that we are Polish Jews.
In Bytom my brother married Ruth Faust and my sister Faiga married uncle Ella. At that point I must tell you one story of survival because it is very unusual; an exceptional story about Tanta Ruth. My Faust, Ruth's Father managed to get for money false Arian papers for himself and for Ruth; Mrs. Faust and the daughter separated themselves and wandered away into strange villages where they would not be known and worked as Maids farm hand and whatever they could do. Ruth worked on a farm for a while and the farmer was suspecting that she was Jewish, he went to the Polish police telling them he has a female farm hand and he thinks she is Jewish and he wants them to come to his house check out her papers and make sure she is not a Jew. Ruth knew that her boss suspected her being Jewish and she know that he went to the police to report her, but she had no place to go so she stayed on working and waiting for the police to come and probably shoot her. For some reason the police did not come right away, the farmer was displeases with the service so he went to the German Gestapo the S.S. and told them the same story. In the mean time a man a polish man from the underground party found out about it probably from the Polish Police; he took two men from his organization, dressed them in S.S. uniforms and sent them to pick up the Jewish woman from the farmer. They came in the house asked the farmer you have a Jewish woman working for you? The farmer said yes! and they ordered him to pick up here things and she will come with us. Ruth thought they will take her out and shoot her, soon they walked out they say to her don't worry we are not the Gestapo; Wladek Ksazek send us for you to pick you up before the Gestapo comes. They took her to Ksazeks house he kept her there for a while then took her several villages away so she can find work again. She found work with a lady farmer and worked for several months. One day an elder man walked in and Ruth sees it is her father he started to cry so the lady farmer says old man why are you crying? so he answered I am an old man I had my own farm the Germans took my farm away and now I have to look for a day of work to support my self. The women asked can you still work on a farm? He answered of course. I am still strong, he got the job and worked together with the daughter until the end of the war and the farmer lady never knew it was father and daughter and Jews.
When we were crossing the border from Poland to Czechoslovakia a friend of ours Lipka Yasem-Unger was wearing nice boots, one guard talks to the other that bitch is wearing beautiful boots, we should take them off her feet; of course she understood Polish so she got up and walked around all the time so they could not get the boots. From Poland we went to Check. from Check we went by train to Germany, in Germany we went to an absorption center in Minchen and then Unra sent us to Bamberg near Nernberg. In Bamberg we stayed from Nov. 1945 till May 1947. Our family in America was working on papers to bring us to the U.S. In the meantime Phyllys was born to Icia and Ruth and Robert was born to Faiga and Ella. Wtadek Ksiazek was a man that served in the Polish military police, he was against Germany, belonged to the polish underground was arrested several times by the Nazis. His party helped out to kill Jews but he himself helped some Jews to survive. He hid two Jewish girls over the whole war, after the Russians liberated us the two girls came out of hiding and someone shot through the window and killed one of the girls, and so we lost many Jewish people that survived Hitler over the whole war and fell in to the polish murderers that could not see a few Jews survive. During the time when we lived in Rzeszow someone shot through the window to Mr. Swienton and wounded Pietrek in the leg because he helped Jews to survive. Pietrek stayed with us until his leg healed.
We were in Bamberg until we received Visas to go to America. We came from Brenen Hafen aboard the Marine Marlin to America on May 7, 1947 we were awaited by two or three cars. After all we were eleven people, nine grown ups and 2 babies. Ruth's father came with us also after all he survived with his only daughter so my family made papers for him too. We came to Newark NJ but we could not stay all together in one place so we were divided between the family. Uncle Ella, Tanta Faiga and Robert went to Brooklyn to Mrs. Dinhofer she was a relative from my mothers side, he got a job and lived in the Bronx and Brooklyn until he moved to Vineland and bought the farm on Garden Rd. Uncle Icia got a job at the Wiquic Dinner as a dish washer and then he got a job at Steiners Catering he became a cook and worked there and managed the catering until he and the family moved to Vineland to the farm and Mill Rd. Rose got married to uncle Jack at Stihers; lived in Newark until they came to Vineland and settled on the farm on Roosevelt Blvd. Sally married Uncle Pinia one year later uncle Pinia had the farm on East Ave. so Sally too came to Vineland actually Sally and Pinya was the first one on the farm, we all followed Sally that is how we all wound up in Vineland. Since I was the youngest my family wanted I should have a more prestigious job so the family gave me a job with a brother of my cousin and nephew at Carles Michaels Co. in Elizabeth NJ.
When we came to America for reasons of survival during the Nazi occupation my father registered me three years younger so as soon as I came I was of age to register with slective service. I was classified 4F and was not bothered until Apr. of 1952. I was still working for the same company and was promoted to an outside salesman, I had a new car and was feeling like a somebody. All this ended on April 15th 1952. I was called to report to Slective Service.
In Apr 1954 I was discharged at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I married Bella in Dec 1955. -Murray Ressler email@example.com
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