single young people were able to flee to the USSR. The husbands of his three sisters were taken into the Red Army. Two were killed fighting the Nazis
In August, 1942 the Drimmer apartment was very crowded with grandfather Izak, grandmother Sara, Jakub, his sister Ryfke and her two children. Jakub was the only provider. Food was rationed and only those who were working could obtain meagre rations. Jakub bartered for food with farmers, paying with whatever he could, such as a wedding ring.
Before the war Marcel had a nanny, Jancia. She now helped the family with food. She also played with him and when he contracted whooping cough, she offered to take him to her home for a few days. When Marcel's sister Irena begged their mother to bring him back home, Laura took off her armband with the Star of David and went to Jancia's home. As she entered the house, Jancia went into premature labour. Marcel was sitting in a corner crying. Laura helped as much as she could. In fact, she saved the young woman's life, but the baby was stillborn.
On the next morning, Jancia's husband returned from his night shift and informed the family about an aktion against the Jews that was taking place in Drohobycz. He said that if the Germans found Jews in his house everyone would be killed. He provided some bread for Laura but asked her to leave with Irena and Marcel. It was a cold, rainy day. Laura ran with her children to a wheat field nearby. Covered with their mother's raincoat, Marcel and his sister sat there, getting colder and colder. German soldiers and Ukrainian police entered the field and started to catch the Jews who were hiding. Irena and Marcel remember hearing screams, prayers, the Germans shouting, and dogs' barking. It went on for hours. They called it a "concert of death." As evening turned to night, Laura decided to return to Jancia's house. As they left the wheat field, they noticed a German soldier standing alone on the road with a dog. He saw Laura and her children, but turned around and let them go.
During the aktion, Jakub Drimmer was in the lumberyard where he worked and lived in a dormitory with other Jewish men. The next morning, he came to Jancia's house to take his wife and children back home. They found their home deserted. The grandparents, his sister Ryfke, and her children were gone. The house had been plundered by neighbors. Feathers had flown everywhere as they searched the pillows and quilts for valuables. The family had been deported, along with about 800 Jews to the death camp in Bełżec where they were murdered on arrival.
In October 1942, the Germans designated a few square blocks of Drohobycz as a ghetto and forced the Jewish population into it. It was guarded by Germans and Ukrainian police. Life there was very hard. Marcel's family had one room in an apartment of three or four rooms. Jakub Drimmer and other Jews who worked for the Germans were escorted by the police every day from the ghetto to their work camps in the morning and back in the evening. There were many aktions in the ghetto. After each, the Drimmer family found a new hiding place. After the Germans took the furniture, they slept on the floor. They also constructed a hiding place under the floor, hidden by a mattress. On one occasion, as Marcel Drimer remembered, two policeman came into the place where his uncle was had been hding under the mattress. One was a a German policeman, the other a Jewish policeman from the Judenrat, who had been a classmate of his uncle. When his uncle appealed for help, the Jewish policeman demanded money. He left when he received the bribe.
By 1943, Jakub was aware that the situation was becoming more dangerous and around September or October arranged for his family to escape from the Drohobycz ghetto. At first, he was able to smuggle them into the lumberyard; they hid in in a pile of drying lumber that Jakub had stacked in such a way that there was a hiding place for his family. Then for a few weeks, they hid in an attic over his office in the camp. Jakub brought food at night. A Polish woman working in the factory, who noticed this activity, planned to denounce him. She confided her plan to another woman, who told Jakub. Fortunately, before the woman could to execute her plan, Jakub asked a Jewish doctor working in the lumberyard clinic for help. He wrote an anonymous letter, supposedly from an SS officer, accusing the woman of spreading syphilis. She was apprehended by the SS and disappeared until after the war.
Jakub went to his wife's hometown Mlynki Szkolnikowe, where he made contact with their neighbours, the Sawinski family. This Polish-Ukrainian family agreed to take only Laura and Irena, but not Jakub and Marcel. Jewish men were circumcised; if they were discovered, they and the people who were hiding them would be killed. But in the last moment, Mrs Sawinski felt that she could not leave the small boy behind. They decided to hide all four members of the family.
In the beginning, the family stayed above the stable on the Sawinski's farm. Around the early fall of 1943, Laura Drimmer persauded the Sawinskis to hide Jakub. He had realized that the war was not going well for the Germans and that his position as a protected labourer was not secure. Soon after, other Jews whom the Sawinskis knew came to join them in hiding. There were thirteen in all. They were able to eat with the help of Bumek Gruber, who was still working as a butcher in the Karpaten Öl camp. He would send scraps from the workers tables with one of the Sawinski's sons. Once in a while he would send a piece of meat. But when Bumek with his new family came to hide at the Sawinski's farm, access to food was even more limted for both the hidden Jews and the Sawinski family.