David P. Boder Interviews Rachel Gurmanova; August 17, 1946; Paris, France

var english_translation = { interview: [ David Boder

[In English] This Spool... [noise]. This is Spool 50, number 50, taken in Paris on August 17, 1946; and the interviewee is Mrs. Rachel Gurmanova from Warsaw.

David Boder

[In German] And so, Mrs. Gurmanova, will you please tell us what is your full name and where are you from?

Rachel Gurmanova

Gurmanova.

David Boder

My name is...

Rachel Gurmanova

My name is Gurmanova, Rachel, from Warsaw [she made an attempt to speak German] and...

David Boder

Speak Yiddish.

Rachel Gurmanova

May I?

David Boder

Yes. And what are you doing now in Paris?

Rachel Gurmanova

I have come to now to the world conference of the Union ORT in Paris.

David Boder

Aha. And how long do you intend to remain here?

Rachel Gurmanova

Well, I shall remain for about two weeks.

David Boder

Oh. Now Mrs. Gurmanova, will you please tell me where you were when the Germans arrived in Poland?

Rachel Gurmanova

I was in Warsaw.

David Boder

Please speak louder.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. I was in Warsaw where I had resided permanently, there I was found by the war.

David Boder

What was your occupation?

Rachel Gurmanova

I was the secretary of the central committee of the ORT in Poland.

David Boder

Before the war?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. From the year 1921.

David Boder

From the year 1921.

Rachel Gurmanova

Twenty-one.

David Boder

I have visited Yashunski in Poland...

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes.

David Boder

In thirty-six, but...

Rachel Gurmanova

In all probability I was there. You must have seen me there.

David Boder

Aha.

Rachel Gurmanova

For sure.

David Boder

What happened to Yashunski?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yashunski was taken from Warsaw with his wife and whole family on the 18th of January, 1943.

David Boder

Yes, and what happened to him?

Rachel Gurmanova

Well, he was taken to Treblinka, where all Jews were taken and there he found his end.

David Boder

Aha.

Rachel Gurmanova

In the gas-chamber.

David Boder

Well, you were in Warsaw when the Germans came in.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes.

David Boder

Well, tell us what happened to you and what were the main things that happened to your friends, what you have yourself seen and experienced.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. First I have to tell about my work in the ORT. All my time I spent in the ORT and in its midst I spent the whole time of the occupation.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Well, the war broke out, as it is known, the first of September. A terrible bombing towards Warsaw started and the people hid in the basements. The spent there 26 terrible days. Very many houses were damaged. Very many people were killed. September 26th, it finally was known that the city was surrendered to the Germans. And then the Germans marched into Warsaw.

David Boder

Wasn't the city defended for a few days?

Rachel Gurmanova

It was defended.

David Boder

Who?

Rachel Gurmanova

It is known. Therefore the battle lasted for 26 days. But the Germans were superior in the number of airplanes...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And they destroyed the city and they threatened in the last days that if the city will not be surrendered, they will kill everybody. And therefore they were compelled...There was Kazinski, the mayor of the city. He remained at his post up to the last moment. And incessantly spoke over the radio. He pleaded that the city of Warsaw be defended unto death. But it did not help. He surrendered, then was caught and shot.

David Boder

Who was he, Kazinski?

Rachel Gurmanova

Kazinski, the mayor of the city of Warsaw.

David Boder

He was a Pole?

Rachel Gurmanova

A Pole, yes.

David Boder

And was there not a Rabbi with him?

Rachel Gurmanova

[with surprise] Which Rabbi?

David Boder

Well....

Rachel Gurmanova

Well...

David Boder

All right.

Rachel Gurmanova

In the city of Warsaw, the mayor of the city of Warsaw.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And on the 26th, the Germans marched in, the German army.

David Boder

And so....

Rachel Gurmanova

And the first days they appeared to be very amiable. They brought wagons with bread, and distributed to the population. They made no distinction between Jews and Christians. And they distributed soup which they passed around in field kitchens. That lasted about two, three days. Then they began to make two different lines: for Christians and for Jews. And it would just so happen there was enough for the Christians and for the Jews [there was] not.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

Two days later they already started beating up the Jews who would still come asking for bread. And...

David Boder

Who was beating them?

Rachel Gurmanova

The Germans...the Germans.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

And then the Germans started raiding the homes, proceeding with inspections. They started taking small things, larger things, anything they liked. When they were through with the homes they started with the stores. And they took things. They paid -- for a fur coat they would lay down fifty marks. They wouldn't take for 'nothing' -- like fine people they would pay.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And they started dragging the Jews to work. There were various places. There were [places] where the Jews would work through a day, they would get a bit of soup, would get a gread and off they went for home. But there were places like, for instance, the parliament. The parliament, the congress...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

That was a terrible place. There happened to be such people, the Germans. There they were murderously beaten. One either got killed or they would last there for four weeks and died afterwards.

David Boder

Now what does that mean? [??]

Rachel Gurmanova

Just like that. They would come to work. At all work the Jews were beaten. That was just in the program. The parliament was one such terrible place. The other horrible place was the Domassa [??] [name not clear] a kind of park.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Domassa [??] it was called, on Leszno Street, there too, it was bad. And there were various harassments. There were all kinds of incidents. On the streets one had to take off his hat, and greet [them]. There was no objection against it, but there were individual Germans who would beat Jews for not having taken off their hats. Some Germans demanded that the Jews should not walk on the sidewalks, they should step aside, they should walk in the middle of the street. If a Jew did not step aside he would be forced on his knees, they loaded bricks on him [??] and so he had to stand as long as it was their pleasure. Again they were beating [people]. They would catch intelligent people on the street for various labors. They especially looked for the intelligent, for the better dressed. They were, would tear off on the street cold weather clothing, fur coats. They started a terrible persecution of Jews, a most violent. Then they started abusing [??] they took away the better apartments from the Jews, the nicer ones. Subsequently they took them also from the Poles. But mostly from the Jews. The Jews were thrown out first from better apartments. They took away the furniture.

David Boder

What?

Rachel Gurmanova

They took away the furniture. And afterwards they began to demand the Jews for labor, in the lagers.

David Boder

What kind of lagers?

Rachel Gurmanova

They constructed several. They did not say that these were lagers. First of all they put up a demand that there be formed a Jewish, a Jewish council. They should have with whom to deal [??] They do not want to talk to all the Jews.

David Boder

A Jewish committee?

Rachel Gurmanova

Committee. It was called Jewish council.....

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

They wanted a board [??] composed [??] of influential [??] through whom they could dispatch all required business. And so there was formed a Jewish council, and through the Jewish council they started putting up their demands. They said the Germans need Jews for work.

David Boder

Send who was in the Jewish council?

David Boder

Well, it was headed by the engineer, Czerniakov, who afterwards poisoned himself. You know, of course, about this episode.

David Boder

No.

Rachel Gurmanova

No.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

Nu. So I must tell you about this engineer, Czerniakov, He was the head of the Jewish council, and afterwards when they started sending away the Jews, and when it became known that they were sent away and they were killed in the gas chambers, he took his life, he poisoned himself.

David Boder

[verification] He poisoned himself?

Rachel Gurmanova

He poisoned -- yes, he poisoned himself. And the Germans started demanding that they be given...they need manpower.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

So people were taken as manpower, young people were taken, they were sent out but it revealed itself that they were gathered up simply to be killed by torment.

David Boder

For instance?

Rachel Gurmanova

They were ordered to drain swamps, and they stood in water above their knees, until they [the people] became swollen; they were not given food; they were not given where to sleep. Even if some [??] returned from the lagers, their condition does not yield to description. This is horrible. It is impossible to imagine how these people looked.

David Boder

Did you see them?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. I have seen them, very many of the. I shall...

David Boder

They took men and women?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, only men.

David Boder

So. Go on.

Rachel Gurmanova

I shall turn afterwards to the work of the ORT, because ORT manufactured in its shops various kinds of clothing.

David Boder

[verifying] Clothing?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes.

David Boder

Wearing apparel.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. And [a few words not clear, sounds like 'it was customary'] when those from the lagers would return, they first of all would come to the ORT to be clothed.

David Boder

Oh, so.

Rachel Gurmanova

So I had the opportunity to see them, and to talk with them extensively. They were coming like people half dead. It was difficult to recognize them, beaten [nearly] murdered, swollen. In a horrible condition, mostly they have all died out.

David Boder

So.

Rachel Gurmanova

Subsequently there was a general order to register all men. Everybody was compelled to go to work. And in general everybody had to procure a work certificate. If one had no work certificate, he would not get a bread card and he would be sent out to some kind of work camp. Then they started organizing big shops. [She uses the word like in English: shop. But at least in Germany and Poland it is derived from the word 'schuppen.']

David Boder

What does it mean, shops? Manufactories? [The interviewer gives a German synonym for shop.]

Rachel Gurmanova

Shops are manufactories where the manufacturing of various supplies for the military took place. For the Germans.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

Old things were fixed, new thing were produced. There were shoe shops, cap shops. Then it revealed itself that all those who worked in the shops will live through the war.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

The Germans made no secret about. These were the facts. There were three large shops. At Steubens [??]...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

...worked twelve thousand Jews. At Schatz worked eight and a half thousand Jews, and at [word not clear] shops where six thousand Jews were working. Of course, the Jews endeavored to live in peace with the Germans. There were Germans who accepted money, so they would not beat them. They left the families to live together. If a man worked the wife could stay; with the children.

David Boder

To stay where?

Rachel Gurmanova

Later they said that they don't want children. So the children were somehow hidden away.

David Boder

To live where?

Rachel Gurmanova

With the workers. Each shop had its own district.

David Boder

Oh.

Rachel Gurmanova

And there were billeted all its workers.

David Boder

Oh.

Rachel Gurmanova

A [square] block.

David Boder

Aha.

Rachel Gurmanova

In this block by rule the families were not permitted to live there. But if they were paid, they let them alone. The children were hidden away. They knew possibly that the children were hidden, but they kept silent. Now they search the streets [two words not clear] only for those who are not working. Those who had cards indicating that they worked somewhere where not molested.

David Boder

And what did they do with those out of work?

Rachel Gurmanova

They were sent away. At that time, it was not yet known where. It was said that barracks are being built on the way to Lublin and probably all will be sent to those barracks.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

Afterwards, it revealed itself that there was being built the famous Treblinka, where they had the gas-chambers, and there all the Jews were sent, and there they were killed. But for the time being [??] it was not known. People deceived themselves. For example, when Treblinka was ready, that lager, that lager of death, so to speak...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

The Germans started seizing young people. Especially healthy, beautiful young people and they placed them -- there was in Warsaw on Clanski Street the Tishman Home [??] a sanitarium, and they were held there.

David Boder

What kind of institution?

Rachel Gurmanova

A sanitarium.

David Boder

A sanitarium, a hospital.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes, a hospital [clinic]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And they were held there overnight. There was a curfew until which one could go out. That night they permitted to go out all night. And if somebody wants to bring bundles to those men who are departing for work in Smolensk -- that is what they said...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

'Please, by all means.' They were so treacherous that they even wanted to cheat out from the families money and bundles.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Subsequently it revealed itself that this was the first test for Treblinka. To ascertain how the gas chambers work. For that they caught a thousand beautiful, young, healthy people; Jewish. But about that we learned only afterwards. They were so treacherous that a part, a few young people they sent away to Brest. That was Brest-Litovsk.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Brest on the Bug. [a river]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And from there arrived a few post cards. Maybe five, maybe six post cards. And they arrived from the Brest [saying] 'we are working.'

David Boder

What?

Rachel Gurmanova

That was sufficient. The Ghetto wanted to believe [??] and so they calmed down a bit. Well, so they have departed for work.

David Boder

Did people live that time already in the Ghetto?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. I shall also tell you about the beginning of the Ghetto.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

The Ghetto was inaugurated the 15th of November, 1940, on a Saturday; exactly. This was the first Saturday after the Day of Atonement. [Note: the last statement or the month are probably incorrect; should be checked with a Jewish calendar, September would probably be correct] ...The Day of Atonement was on Monday, and on Monday noon [??] it was announced over the radio, that there will be installed a Jewish district.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

So, on a Saturday morning, it was blocked. Walls were constructed before and they...

David Boder

Of lumber?

Rachel Gurmanova

No. One and a half meters out of bricked topped [??] with [word not clear].

David Boder

Stone walls?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes, stone walls one meter and a half high...

David Boder

How...One and a half meter thick or a meter and a half...?

Rachel Gurmanova

No. A meter and a half high. Thickness about a half a meter.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Or about sixty centimeters.

David Boder

So.

Rachel Gurmanova

...in height. It is interesting that ORT was located outside the Ghetto. And on Friday the 14th Yashunski was given a permit that those belonging to the ORT may remain outside the Ghetto. They ordered from the Gestapo to present a list of all students...students, and teaching personnel, administrative personnel, and they will issue permits. But already on Saturday morning, the 15th, I was not permitted to enter the building, and nothing came out of it. Afterward they gave us the permission and ORT moved all its belongs and continued with the courses.

David Boder

Where did they move out?

Rachel Gurmanova

Into the Jewish district.

David Boder

Into the...the Jewish district?

Rachel Gurmanova

Into the Jewish Ghetto. Already. Not far away but in the Jewish Ghetto.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

I only want to say, that ORT was the only institution which was given permission to proceed with...with its school and courses. ORT developed a very great activity and it had a very great sphere of action, because working people were maintaining, so to speak [tolerable] living conditions. Those who worked in the ORT, had work certificates [?] and had the right to live. Temporarily. Of course, afterwards everything went to naught. In these confines [??] the Ghetto remained until the 22nd of June, 1942. During that time terrible things happened. For instance, there was a certain Kort, a communist, by the name of Kort. The Gestapo found out that he was in Warsaw and they came to arrest him. So, he drew a revolver, killed two Gestapo men, and ran away, fled. For this they took three hundred and five [??] intellectuals, that means physicians, lawyers, engineers, they were shot at the citadel, that is, at the fortress...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

...on the shore of the Vistula, and they were all thrown into the water. [The next sentence is not clear. It could be reconstructed probably in this way: how they picked them was not clear, maybe they had a list] but it was obvious that they took but a few working men. There was another instance when a hoodlum [??] some thief was running. A squad was chasing after him and they got into a house Nalewki 9.

David Boder

Inside the Ghetto.

Rachel Gurmanova

In the Ghetto, yes. A policeman ran after him. And he shot the policeman. And for that all men [males] were taken from the building, fifty eight men, and they were shot.

David Boder

Where? Right there in the Ghetto?

Rachel Gurmanova

In the Ghetto. In the Pawiak. That was a famous prison. That was in the Ghetto on the Pawiak Street. And so every day at 2 o'clock there was a change of the guard. The Germans. And they used to arrive on vehicles. They would travel with iron [rods??] [two words not clear] covering [??] the streets with fears. They beat up every [??] person. Then it was already known.

David Boder

What does that mean, they used to beat up? While they were...

Rachel Gurmanova

While riding. So they would beat up every Jew who happened to pass by. Over the head. Bashinfg in heads. And then the Jews started watching out. Let us say between one and half past two there could not be seen a Jew on Bracka [?] and Jerozolimski [?] [streets] and in that general direction. People endeavored not to go [there]. Of course, to enter and to take people out of their homes, that was an everyday occurrence. This was of no consequence. The situation of the Jews was terrible. They were driven together from the whole Warsaw district into this small Ghetto. I don't know whether you are well acquainted with Warsaw.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

There was at [that] time the Ghetto: Bogomarski [??]...the Bank Place [next name not clear] and Leszno [??] up to Zelazna [??]. They have assigned...this they called the large Ghetto. There was also the small Ghetto -- that was Twarda [??] Zydowska [??] penetrating from Plan [one name not clear]. Separately stood [word not clear] -- this was on Prosta [??] number 14 -- that was a school of commerce. There were [word not clear] and there also lived all those who worked with us. The movement between...if one had to go to the greater Ghetto through the Zelazna [??] street... the Zelzna itself was on the one side already outside the Ghetto. And the Chlodan too. So there was constructed a bridge, to get across. One would get down [??] on one side of Zelzna and get across to the other side of the Zelezna. Because the middle was outside the Ghetto. That was Chlodna street [??]. This was still called tolerable. But on the 22nd of July, 1942, it was learned that there will be a deportation from Warsaw. Since there congregated a half a million in this small region -- they lived in overcrowded rooms, packed in with kit and caboodle [??]. There was such a strong stench [??] coming out from there, that one could not pass by on the sidewalk.

David Boder

On what sidewalk?

Rachel Gurmanova

There where the refugees lived. The unfortunate deportees.

David Boder

So.

Rachel Gurmanova

In such terrible conditions were they...

David Boder

What do you mean, which deportees, from everywhere?

Rachel Gurmanova

From the little towns. From the whole Warsaw...

David Boder

From the little towns they were brought to Warsaw?

Rachel Gurmanova

From the whole Warsaw district the Jews were brought to Warsaw. They were packed in with kit and caboodle [??] with little children in empty buildings.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

And there was then in Warsaw a good half million. The deportation started with the newcomers. They were first. Unemployed. So the Germans said that they bring in disease [??]. There was such a terrible typhus epidemic, which is unimaginable. As much as three hundred people a day died.

David Boder

Where were they buried?

Rachel Gurmanova

In mass graves. They excavated -- as long as they buried three hundred people. Absolutely naked.

David Boder

Where? On...

Rachel Gurmanova

On the Jewish cemetery.

David Boder

On the cemetery.

Rachel Gurmanova

On the Jewish cemetery.

David Boder

Was the cemetery in the Ghetto, or they had to go outside?

Rachel Gurmanova

For the time being it was still in the Ghetto. The it was still in the Ghetto.

David Boder

It was...

Rachel Gurmanova

We will come to it later, yes. They were buried just so. They excavated enormous ditches and they would throw them in...

David Boder

Did they permit to say Kadesh [prayer for the dead]?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes...please. [sounds like: help yourselves] as much as you like. This they did not begrudge. Yes. And they started the deportation with these unfortunates. And here comes the psychological moment. Well, everybody thought, they will send away a part, and the rest will remain. Sure, they too are human beings, they too want to are human beings, they too want to live, but nobody could be concerned about that. But then the chairman of the community council came to the conviction that they are being led away for extermination and he poisoned himself.

David Boder

Oh -- he poisoned himself. [This is not a repetition as often happened, but the pronouncement of the German synonym of the word.]

Rachel Gurmanova

He poisoned himself. People came in the morning and found him sitting [dead] in his office [??].

David Boder

Why did he poison himself?

Rachel Gurmanova

Well, he could not stand it any more.

David Boder

Did he have to select the people for the deportation?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, no. The people were selected by the police. They were caught. They were rounded up [??] and sent away. But still he was the chairman of the Jewish council.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. And on that account he so to speak carried the responsibility for them [??].

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

And afterwards they went further, and further. One section would be surrounded and cleaned out. Then a second section. Then they already started taking such people who had various permit certificates, attesting [??] that they were working. 'Oh, bunk [would they say] what work are you doing?' It was nothing, they would tear it up, and send him away. People started to ponder, where are they being sent?

David Boder

Were they all Germans?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, German, helped by Ukrainians and Latvians.

David Boder

Latvians have helped?

Rachel Gurmanova

For the actions they used large numbers of Ukrainians and Letts, a very great number. [Note: This must have been done not only for the purpose of conservation of manpower, but because of the fact that Anti-Semitism was for centuries a component part of the Ukrainian culture, while the Latvians had it inculcated by the Czarist regime and German landowners. The German masses were, before Hitler, only mildly Anti-Semitic.]

Rachel Gurmanova

And they started deporting and deporting and it dragged along until, until September...'42. In August '42 they again proceeded to reduce the size of the Ghetto.

David Boder

How could they reduce the size?

Rachel Gurmanova

Pushing it together. Instead of Leszno [??] it was pushed to Gesia [??]. You know [??] Warsaw?

David Boder

Yes, yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

To Gesia.

David Boder

It was made smaller.

Rachel Gurmanova

Smaller [word not clear].

David Boder

And what was done with the other houses?

Rachel Gurmanova

They were occupied by Aryan people. Poles occupied them.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Of course.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Poles occupied all of the dwellings.

David Boder

Well.

Rachel Gurmanova

That is what happened [??] And by September, it appeared that this have quieted down a bit. The leader, the director of the Extermination Command of the Warsaw region was called Brandt [??].

David Boder

Well.

Rachel Gurmanova

And so....

David Boder

The Extermination Command...?

Rachel Gurmanova

Extermination...It was a special Extermination Command.

David Boder

Was it called that openly?

Rachel Gurmanova

Indeed openly. Of course. They were in Warsaw. Then it was known for instance that they had deported for fifteen days for Lublin. And there they would depart for Radom, and there they went to another city -- everything was known.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

So Brandt came to the Jewish council and said, 'Quiet, now it is all over.'

David Boder

[There is some interruption, possibly a check of the recorder.] Now then...

Rachel Gurmanova

'From now on the Jews may live in peace. There were too many Jews. An element that did not work. We are unable to forage so many. But those [who] have remained may work unconcerned, and there will be no more actions.' 'Especially,'he said, 'we should take care of the children of those who have remained.'

David Boder

Who said that, the German?

Rachel Gurmanova

Brandt said all that.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

The children who have remained, they will remain alive. And we should arrange a Children's Home...And the Jews were so naive that they believed him.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

A children's home was fixed up. All the abandoned little children were assembled, it was beautifully installed, people readily gave money for it, and it was believed that we will survive these terrible times.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

But it lasted a very short time. And it is known what happened to the Ghetto [??] The whole Gesia Street was to be cleared from Jews. And by that time the cemetery appeared also excluded from the Ghetto.

David Boder

Why?

Rachel Gurmanova

Because the wall was to go running through [??] of Gesia Street.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

As far as Okpowa.

David Boder

Hum.

Rachel Gurmanova

That is how the street went. Here was Okpowa and the Ghetto was now located on the other side of Okpowa. And so those who were working in the department of...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

...of the House of Life [cemetery?] so to speak...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

[of] ...the Jewish council, they had the right, they had special permits to take out the dead...to the Aryan side.

David Boder

They had helpers? [??]

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes, with helpers. Yes, they had a special uniform and they had permission.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And it lasted a very short time and they started making actions again. First [people were taken] from the streets, and then they started making actions in the actual shops.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

They would take, so to speak, those who worked in the shops [??].

Rachel Gurmanova

So they would stage an action, take away a number of people, and then promise: they won't molest [us] again. But it lasted a very short time. There came an instance, a moment when they came to the Jewish council proper. They ordered everybody to come out in the yard. And Brandt himself stood there [word not clear] everyone had to pass by, and whoever he pleased, most of them of course, he sent away. At that time, of those who were in the Jewish council, he sent away that day it seems, five hundred fifty people. [few words not clear] whoever he pleased.

David Boder

Did the Jewish council have so many people? Five hundred fifty people?

Rachel Gurmanova

Of course. The Jewish council felt an obligation to occupy as many as possible.

David Boder

Oh.

Rachel Gurmanova

Because if one had a card from the Jewish council, that meant that one is occupied, that one works, and that meant that one will remain alive.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

There also were people by accident. Those who came there to transact all kinds of business. I, too, happened to be there, in the Jewish council. But I got away. There were three squares. He, Brandt, stood in front, facing him were the vice-chairman, -- that time Czerniakov was no more. The chairman was the engineer, Lichtenbaum, the vice-chairman -- Dr. Gelikowsky. He [Brandt?] stood there. In front of him stood Dr. Gelikowsky [one sentence not clear] When I came over I told him that I am working for the community, am occupied in the organization -- he even did not want to listen. The Lord willed that next to Gelikowsky there stood a woman and she distracted him [Brandt?] with conversation so that he did not see me. But I have proved [?] ..he grabbed me by his hand, and he says 'you are going!' And Brandt then simply ordered me to go along, of course. And I was already far in the square. And I hear somebody calling 'hello, hello' [??] [One sentence not clear] And there stood then a [two words not clear] woman, a Jewish writer was there...

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

...and she says to me: 'Gurmanova, it appears to me that you are being called'.

David Boder

Was she there?

Rachel Gurmanova

She too was there, but was then liberated, and was taken [?] later. She went away the 18th of January.

Rachel Gurmanova

And I look around and I ask them: 'me?' So Gelikowski yells to me. 'yes, you, go!' And we were then set free. Well yes, everyone who was set free, stood aside [?] They took away then 550 people and again they said, Brandt [said] they will take no more. But in spite of what he promised, they always made new arrests.

Rachel Gurmanova

And so it was going...it was known that in April there will be the end of the Jewish Ghetto. It was known, that by April all will be massacred [?].

David Boder

Tell me, how did you live in the Ghetto? Where did one live? In homes? What kind of rooms did you have?

Rachel Gurmanova

Now I will tell you. We...it is understood when they reduced the size of the Ghetto the crowding became terrible. And at the end there were fifteen people to a room.

David Boder

Men and women?

Rachel Gurmanova

Men and women, all together.

David Boder

So how did they live?

Rachel Gurmanova

But there were people who lived very well [few words not clear]

David Boder

...how?

Rachel Gurmanova

...because people could get out to the Aryan side.

David Boder

Hum.

Rachel Gurmanova

These were called work stations. [store houses]

David Boder

Yes...

Rachel Gurmanova

Germans used to take them out...to the Aryan side. They would take them for...there were value conservation details...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

They would gather together all the things. In all the buildings which the Jews had abandoned...so they took Jews out [of the Ghetto], and the task of these Jews was to search for all the things, that have remained. You know the German efficiency. Everything to sort out, everything to classify.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And first of all they were interested in silverware, and good sets [of tableware]...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

...in furniture. For instance, on 13c Leszno [Street] there was an enormous building, a very big house, and that was [converted into] a storehouse for furniture.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

They all classified it. On the first floor were buffets, on the second were beds, on the third were mattresses, on the fourth were wardrobes and so on [?] So often Jews who used to go over to the other side, to work on these storehouse, were earning very, very well. Because...

David Boder

[not clear]

Rachel Gurmanova

No, let me tell you. They used to find things...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Many Jews did not have what to live on, so they used to sell things.

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

So things were being sold on the Aryan side. And on that were made excellent profits. [Note: the members of the salvage crews apparently were selling some of the gathered things to the Aryans as if they were their own] And that was...

David Boder

And by night they would return to the Ghetto?

Rachel Gurmanova

...and they would return at night to the Ghetto, and would bring in turn foodstuffs [to barter]. because on the Aryan side there were foodstuffs. And so this category lived very well. Besides the had good food and drink.

David Boder

But how were their living quarters?

Rachel Gurmanova

They dwelled in crowding. In very crowded living conditions. It is understood they too had to live among the rest [??]

David Boder

Aha...

Rachel Gurmanova

You understand?

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And so the Ghetto became more and more constricted. [Some words not clear] But one could get everything. If one had only the money -- one could get everything.

David Boder

And the money was not taken away?

Rachel Gurmanova

No.

David Boder

No.

Rachel Gurmanova

If there were made inspection, and money was found, it was taken away. So people would hide it, one would find a way.

David Boder

Yes. And with money it was possible...?

Rachel Gurmanova

With money everything was possible. But life was no life. There were for instance, certain two Klechtermeier [?] and Blecher [?]. One of them was a kind of employee [?] in the court, before the war. Before the war he was a Pole, afterwards he became a Polish-German [a Volksdeutsche]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And they, when they would come into the Ghetto it was known that a lot will perish [?] Every Jew they would encounter they would shoot. Without any reason.

David Boder

They themselves?

Rachel Gurmanova

They themselves.

David Boder

...they didn't bring with them anybody...

Rachel Gurmanova

No, no. Only these two: Klechtermeier and Blecher.

David Boder

What did they carry, rifles?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, with revolvers. I myself saw him shooting a Jew.

David Boder

How...

Rachel Gurmanova

With a revolver. Just came over and shot him. It was already known, if they were coming...

David Boder

What kind of...what kind of business did they have there?

Rachel Gurmanova

Oh, just so. They were coming for a check-up [?] A panic would started -- and the word would pass on: 'The shooters have come.' So they would come into a dwelling. 'Why are you home? Why are you not at work?' -- 'I am sick!.....'So don't be sick', and there and then he was put down and shot.

David Boder

Did they have anything to do with work [duties] were they...

Rachel Gurmanova

Absolutely nothing. They were Germans, and that was sufficient. Every German had...the Jews were outside the law. The Jews could complain [seek justice] to no one. If they wanted to order to dance. I must tell you that while the Jews were led to the distribution square... That is at the freight station...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

There where [a few words not clear] not at the main station, from there only went the trains that were designated for Treblinka...

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

En route, nobody was chased, they marched step by step, most at ease. If there were older people or sick -- oh please, they supplied a rickshaw, and carted him away.

David Boder

What is a rickshaw? [this Chinese -- Japanese conveyance was not known in Europe in normal times]

Rachel Gurmanova

That was such a little buggy...

David Boder

Yes, yes...

Rachel Gurmanova

...like a sideseater [a riding-wagon -- Reitwagen]...[a few words not clear]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

During the day one would not see a living human on the street. After five o'clock when they would come back from the workstations. [several sentences not clear]

David Boder

Who?

Rachel Gurmanova

Oh, those who went out to work. At five o'clock they would return.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

By that time there was only one single gate leading from the Ghetto. That was at [word not clear] At Gesia. There was no other. The Ghetto was closed all around. And the Jews knew, that in April the end will come. But the Germans now started something different. They said -- Warsaw must be made free of Jews. And so those Jews who work in shops and industries...those shopes will be transferred with the shops to smaller towns. And so a transfer was made to Poniatowa, and to some other little town, the name slips me for a moment.

David Boder

They were transferred....

Rachel Gurmanova

Transferred....

David Boder

With the machinery?

Rachel Gurmanova

With the machinery. The machinery was loaded with them [?]. They were ordered to sing. I still now hear this singing in my ears. It was shuddering.

David Boder

What were they singing?

Rachel Gurmanova

[not clear] Anything, songs, they were to make merry.

David Boder

Hum.

Rachel Gurmanova

...and it was known, and Jews [?] were standing on the balconies, with other people, and they knew that these humans are being led to death, and they are called Jews [???] [the words are scrambled from emotions] In Poniatowa they still worked for a short while.

David Boder

[In English] This concludes Spool 50 of Miss Rachel Gurmanova, and we are going over to Spool 51. Paris, August the 17th, 1946. [Note: This reference to Spool 50 is obviously a mistake. The spool just concluded is obviously Spool 51. Such errors in numbers were at times unavoidable.]

David Boder

Paris, August the 17th. This is Spool 52. The interview continues with Miss [Mrs.] Rachel Gurmanova.

David Boder

[In German] Now Mrs...continue...

Rachel Gurmanova

They were told they were being taken [to work] and they took with them their sewing machines.

Rachel Gurmanova

They took with them their sewing machines, and indeed they worked there for a short time, and afterwards one 'nice' day they were led out. They were ordered to dig out large ditches...

David Boder

Who did that?

Rachel Gurmanova

The authorities of the fort where they were led out [???not sure of the text on the wire]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

[She gives in Polish the status of the authorities] [??]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Everybody was ordered to strip completely to tie together the things in bundles, and to put away each one his own things. All were laid out on the ground -- I have read a description of a woman who had saved herself...

David Boder

Yes, where did she describe it?

Rachel Gurmanova

She described it...our labor committee had her book.

David Boder

A letter?

Rachel Gurmanova

...book. A report, a description.

David Boder

Yes, I have read it myself.

Rachel Gurmanova

And so they were told that all should lie down on the ground. Next to her was laying her ten year old little daughter and they were all shot with machine guns [??]. She, and other two women...

David Boder

How did they shoot women who were laying on the ground?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. Well they were killed, apparently it is possible. All shot...

David Boder

And how has she escaped?

Rachel Gurmanova

She...by accident. Her little girl was killed and she...survived. She felt that she was alive.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And so there came the Ukrainians, and they started covering with branches of trees all these bodies. She thought that they were going to burn them

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

So she started...she waited until dark...and began to shove herself, to shove away, from underneath the branches. But afterwards it came to be that all were thrown into the ditch.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

...which they themselves have excavated, and they were buried. There were many such graves, as many as they needed [??], and for four successive days the earth of these graves would rise and fall again [repeatedly] because the people...there were many who were not 'shot completely'; they still moved, they still struggled. And it was visible how the earth continued moving [rise and fall] She with two other women, they walked naked, it is a whole story. They stepped into a peasant woman, she had hidden somehow a bit of money, and the peasant woman sold her something to put on. And so they saved themselves [??] [One sentence not clear; sounds like: they got away at night] This is a chapter for itself. But by the orders [??] of the Germans they laid out so many thousands of people on -- in the open, have shot them with machine guns. All of them without exception. And...

David Boder

That was not in an extermination camp, that was just...

Rachel Gurmanova

No, that was not in a lager, this was just so.. The extermination camp was Treblinka...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

[in] Majdanek they were shooting. In Majdanek there was no crematory. The crematory was in Treblinka. But here they were just shooting. They ordered them to dig the graves themselves, and...

David Boder

You tell me people did it. How do people do such things? They knew that they will be shot...[a few words not clear].

Rachel Gurmanova

Sure. That is all...here comes the psychological moment. To throw themselves all together at the Germans...one does not have anything to lose...to knock out their teeth, to knock out their eyes -- nothing! People went like sheep. I must tell you how perished the Rabbi of Warsaw. Dressed up in a shroud, through saying Via and so he went.

David Boder

Were they told...?

Rachel Gurmanova

...to Kidush Hashem. They believed...They knew such was their destiny. If God orders, so it must be [Note: A shroud forms part of the attire of the pious Jew on the following occasions: during services on the Day of Atonement; during the repast at the first night of Passover; it also was worn by the groom at the wedding ceremony. The three occasions are given in order of frequency of observance. II Vida -- Prayer -- said by those on the dying bed, or those about to die. Regularly recited by pious old people together with their bedtime prayers. III Kidush Hashem -- 'for the glory of the Lord.' -- a common designation for religious martyrdom.]

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

They went deep in faith, up to the last minute.

David Boder

Sure, of course, they did not care about that.

Rachel Gurmanova

[She is emotional and her speech is not clear] They went [??] wearing anything [??] And there were thousands and thousands of people. It is possible to imagine what an upheaval there was? What screams and what wails -- and they [the Nazis] were sitting, they ordered that the German be served some soup, brandy -- one was compelled to bring it [a pause]. Now, I have to turn back [with the story]. At night -- one had to go in by seven o'clock -- at night from twelve to six, from the sixth to the seventh of September, 1942, it was announced that one could go out all night, and at dawn all people who worked have to appear at their places.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

That means that all those employed by the Jewish council have to report to the headquarter of the Jewish council. They should take food for two days. That all from the shops should assemble to the [name of place not clear] and there will be a selection.

David Boder

Why a selection?

Rachel Gurmanova

Because there are too many Jews. One does not need that many. Only the ones needed were to remain, and a part must get out. What getting out meant was already known. And...they also made a selection of those among the Jewish council...I also belonged to the Jewish council, because then there was no more what was called ORT, but we had to call ourselves The Division for Jewish Professional Education. They already were not permitted...

David Boder

...professional Education for Jews...

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes...

David Boder

The ORT was already...

Rachel Gurmanova

The ORT was already not permitted. We were then in the yard of Jewish council. We were detained for two days. Afterwards we were such...

David Boder

What does it mean, you were detained for two days? Where did you spend the two days?

Rachel Gurmanova

In the Jewish council.

David Boder

Where...

Rachel Gurmanova

In the building of the Jewish council... on the floor...we were laying on the floor in the building of the Jewish council. Then everybody was ordered out into the yard. The Jewish council was ordered to make a meshuma of those people...

David Boder

What is a meshuma, a list?

Rachel Gurmanova

Of all those...a list yes, -- of all those people. They issued numbers and all these numbers were led out. I must tell, about five thousand numbers....

David Boder

Yes...

Rachel Gurmanova

And they led us in formation [few words not clear, possibly a direction of a locality in Warsaw], where -- we did knot know. But not all, even of those with numbers [?] were led out. They led out a certain number, and then they ordered to stop. The right side [they apparently were divided into two groups] were sent away the next day to Treblinka. They led us out. The majority lived then in Gesia [street] Malinorski [she apparently names a district of Warsaw] and we were led under guard, so that each one should go into his own home.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

For two days there stood around guards with rifles...

David Boder

Soldiers?

Rachel Gurmanova

Soldiers. Nobody was permitted in nor out. People gradually recuperated [from the experience] People gradually appeared on the streets, and life went on after the horrible experience [??] We did not know why it happened, how many...one thing was clear, that in time [??] there will be an end to the Jews. We did not know whether all will be led out to [name not clear], to Poniatowa, to Trawniki, let us say; that was not known. And they started also in the shops. [a few words not clear] Every few days there were actions also in the shops. Until it came to the tragic day of the 18th, the 19th [words not clear] the 19th of April. It was on the eve of Passover. A day before a delegation of Rabbis visited the Gestapo and inquired whether they could have prayer meetings on Passover. So the reply was [she imitates the Germans] Yes, if you please [wish]. Only don't pray too loud, don't yell. But prayer meetings you may hold as much as you want.

David Boder

And Matzoths?

Rachel Gurmanova

That was known already [to the Germans]. Matzoths were baked...

David Boder

Matzoths were baked.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. Yes, the Jewish council gave Matzoths to everybody. There was no money. The Jewish council paid nothing. That must be told. But one would get something. Provisions one would get [apparently for services in the council]. People knew already. If something was distributed in the Ghetto, a bit more food, that meant already that there will be an action. Before every action it was done that way, they gave a bit more food. There was a time, during the deportations, when it was laid out on the tables. So and so, people are being sent out for work; because there are so many people in Warsaw, so those who will present themselves voluntarily will get two Kilogram of bread, with a Kilogram of honey [syrup] And therefore...

David Boder

Honey?

Rachel Gurmanova

Honey. And therefore, became the situation [??] was so horrible, that thousands of people presented themselves voluntarily. In part it was the influence of those who believed [them] Oh, we are traveling to [a place of] work. People wanted to talk into themselves, that they are going away to work. There were for instance the Warsaw hackneys [coachmen] You know what that means...

Rachel Gurmanova

...who were healthy, and strong. So they took them with their horse and carriage, led them away with wife and children. And people told them; you brutes, you brutes, what are you doing? Where are you journeying?

David Boder

Were there hackneys in the Ghetto?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes.

David Boder

With horses?

Rachel Gurmanova

...with horses, yes. What are you doing? [they answered] 'We are going to work, we will suffer through, while you work, they won't kill you. Such was the psychology, and so were the events [??] People delivered themselves. Where did they say were people going? They [the Germans] said that the people are going to Smolensk. So people [some Jews] went to the distribution square and jotted down the numbers of the railroad cars...

Rachel Gurmanova

...and these same cars had returned within six hours. That is there destination to work. Was very near, isn't that so? They say [??] they take them to Smolensk. They lead away and annihilate. But nobody believed it. Everybody said to himself, that he is going to work [whatever may have been done to the others] And now [in a solemn voice] comes the heroic uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto.

David Boder

Were you there during the...

Rachel Gurmanova

No, I...the Warsaw Ghetto was surrounded by soldiers for annihilation. On April the 18th, on a Sunday evening...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

I left the Ghetto the 16th, Friday in the morning.

David Boder

How did you get out?

Rachel Gurmanova

Oh, am I to tell the whole story?

David Boder

Surely [??]

Rachel Gurmanova

Then I shall tell it to you [she speaks with inspiration] I was in the Ghetto and worked with the ORT, and it [the ORT] gave us whatever help it could. The Jews. Always, when they came, when they were herded together, from the whole...[countryside]...from all the little towns. The ORT helped all the artisans. They were driven out of their homes, say in ten, fifteen minutes. And they could take nothing with them. So it was necessary to give a tailor not only a [sewing] machine, but he had to be given [she enumerates hastily] a machine, a mannekin [??] a flatiron, a table and stool, and [she names three objects which I am not able to translate for the moment] and some bread [??] and accessories and some thread just for a start.

David Boder

And the ORT supplied all that?

Rachel Gurmanova

The ORT supplied it. They were coming to us, they were demanding from the Mother [??] ORT. And all were provided. And I must tell you they were earning [for a living] they were earning.

David Boder

Who were earning?

Rachel Gurmanova

Artisans. Tailors, cobblers, glazers, carpenters. They were earning. But since the housing [??] situation was catastrophic, they had nowhere to install their shops, so the ORT assembled a kind of chests. [lockers]

Rachel Gurmanova

And these chests came to be itinerant shops, for carpenters, for cobblers. Each carpenter each cobbler, had his relatives from his home town. So he would come into a home, and there fix the shoes. And there occurred most moving scenes. Artisans would come and say: 'Today I don't go begging for no soup. Here, see, I have earned, and my wife cooks her our own dinner. I don't go begging. I am through with begging.' These were joyful moments. And the other joyful moments were the courses, where the youth were taught; and afterwards the established themselves and earned. And this was going on until the last moment. The ORT existed until the 18th of April. And I was with it and kept up with my work [??] But then something happened. I had a woman friend, a teacher, who made a living with great hardship. And she lived in Warsaw on Nowolipie Street [one or two words not clear] apparently a name of an industrial plant, possibly Schurz] But when Schurz had to requisition his workers, he was given the whole section [she says block] Nowolipki.

David Boder

Schurz was a shop [a few words not clear] a kind of industry?

Rachel Gurmanova

A shop, yes. In German, a schupp. That was a big shop. And there worked eighteen and a half thousand people. [Note: this clears up the appearance in Yiddish and German the word shop. It is really not the penetration of the word shop from the English language but a corruption of the German word Schuppen, which means a shed, a temporary industrial building, a structure consisting of a roof supported by pillars but without walls. These were apparently the quickly erected shops, in which the machinery and materials had to be safeguarded from rain and snow, but not the workers.] Schurz was assigned for his labor needs the section from the Novolipie Street to [one street name not clear] and to Stanowizi.

David Boder

They simply gave him all these people to work for him?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes, but they assigned dwellings for his people.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And those people [who] lived in these dwellings had to move out. Among these also was my woman friend.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

And she remained without a dwelling. But since a brother of her worked in the first shop on Swientagorski [??] Street she moved in with him. And now imagine that in that dwelling she found somewhere inside a wall a kind of hiding place, and she found there a colossal amount of money, gold and diamonds. Apparently a Jew who lived there....

David Boder

That happened to your friend...?

Rachel Gurmanova

...to my friend, yes, to my friend. This apparently was hidden by a Jew who had lived there, and when he was taken away it remained there. So, when it came to so much money, they started thinking about getting over to the Aryan side. All those who had money went across, and so...

David Boder

With Aryan papers?

Rachel Gurmanova

Well, if people went across they procured papers...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And for that one had to have colossal sums.

David Boder

Yes, where was the money found, in the Ghetto?

Rachel Gurmanova

But since they had become rich, they started thinking about getting over to the other side; to save themselves. She was a teacher by profession. And she had a woman friend also a teacher, a Christian.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

So they entered in communication with that Christian. That Christian [woman] had communicated with her often. She was always interested [??] to communicate with them. Zelazna Street was still in the Ghetto. On the Leszno [it sounds like Leszna] Street were all courts [of justice] a very large building. On one side it faced Zeleszna and on the other side it faced Bialo..[correcting herself] Gradowa. The Christians used to enter from the Gradowa Street side, and Jews would enter from Leszno and there inside they would meet. In this manner my women friends also would come to see each other, and with the brother...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

The friends of mine. And they started negotiating with Irene, so that she should find them an apartment. Irene obtained fore herself false papers, because she was an artisan. And on these false papers she rented for them an apartment. That has cost an awful lot of money.

David Boder

False papers? Jewish false papers?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, Polish. But she did not to risk [??] because she was employed working woman. [Note: The occupation was obviously written into her correct papers. And as an working woman it was dangerous for her to rent an expensive apartment. She also could continue living at her own home, on her own name.]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

In case something happens, she would just not be there. You understand? She was then back on her own [???]. In this apartment was constructed a double wall, a double wall was installed.

David Boder

In what apartment?

Rachel Gurmanova

In the apartment which they rented on the Aryan side. A double wall was installed. And in the wall was made a little, little door. And in front of it was standing cupboard [??] -- to cover it up.

David Boder

Hum.

Rachel Gurmanova

We used to sit in the room. As soon as there was a knock at the door we all got in there [behind the double wall] the cupboard [??] was shoved back [to cover the door] and that was all. They registered in the apartment [as inhabitants] Irene [??] on false papers, a sister-in-law of my woman friend, with a child, and one woman more, a Christian, a servant. Three persons were registered, and other eight of us lived there unregistered.

David Boder

So you lived on the Aryan side?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. I am telling you how it happened. And this friend, after they...they moved in there, [in this other apartment] in the second half of February 1943...

David Boder

So...

Rachel Gurmanova

...Oh, she started to plead with me persistently that I go with them. And I already...and I hesitated to abandon the ORT. [The last sentence is not clear]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

This dragged along until...until the 12th of April.

Rachel Gurmanova

Imagine that. And the 15th of April, I was still sitting in the shops at the ORT, working normally. And somebody had to sit as usual by the window and watch, whether somebody was coming, whether there were not [word not clear]...So I was sitting at the window, and in order that the work proceeds calmly in the shops, I used to read to them. And Thursday the 15th of April, I still read to them the letter of Manachem Mendel to Sheine Sheindel by Sholem Aleichem. [few words not clear]

Rachel Gurmanova

And all would lament over memories about home [??] So they could forget themselves. One forgot his woes. I read to them, we talked, we told about [various things] And here comes the brother of my woman friend and tells me thus: 'listen Gurmanova, Jeannie does not let me live. I plead with you to come out [to leave the Ghetto] So I answered to him thus: 'You know, that the Jewish Council will distribute for Passover packages to all people working. But there are two kinds of packages -- larger ones and smaller ones. So I am afraid, if I should leave, not all of ours [apprentices of the ORT] will not get equal packages. Why should people become irritated? I shall wait until Monday; Monday everybody will get their packages and then I shall get out.'

Rachel Gurmanova

So he goes away and he comes back. 'No. Jeanie has sent me another note.' I should come without fail. So I said to him:-'You know what, I am a bit religious. I shall go to the Jewish council. If they promise me that all our co-workers will get equally large packages'...and I went there and they....I did not tell them that I am getting out of the city [obviously out of the Ghetto] I told them I am going out to [name of locality not clear]

David Boder

By going out was meant not to come back?

Rachel Gurmanova

I planned to come back. I went out as a worker, as one of those who were going out to work.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

So they told me in the Jewish council, I told them that I was going out there on a leave...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

For over the holy days...

Rachel Gurmanova

So they told me: 'go ahead, I assure you that all your [?] co-workers will get large packages. And on Friday morning the 16th of April, I left. And so I got over there. I came to Jeannie on Cholodna Street 15 [last four words not clear] and Sunday night, the Ghetto was encircled for the last time, for annihilation. Do you understand? I ask you? If the Ghetto had been surrounded the 18th, [correcting herself] the 19th, I would have been there, because by Monday I would have gone back. I was missing it [the Ghetto] And so I remained. [here she raises her voice] I must tell you however about the perfidy of the Germans,....they knew that on the Aryan side there were some Jews. And that did not let them rest [live] It all was so worked out, with such precision. What did they do? For about two months before the destruction of the Ghetto they posted an announcement that for a number of Jews have arrived permits to -- to leave for abroad. And since these Jews are not here anymore,others may leave instead. Of course with a good passport [??]

Rachel Gurmanova

There was no shortage of money. There were rich Jews. And they paid several hundred thousand zloty per person. [a zloty is equivalent to...........] You understand what this means?

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And they were segregated [??] They went to the Paviak, that is a prison. They were there for a certain length of time, they were permitted to receive food that was brought to them. And then they were led away to [name of locality not clear] That is a beautiful region.

David Boder

In Poland?

Rachel Gurmanova

Right there in Poland. [few words not clear] And from there arrived wonderful letters. That the people are there expecting to leave the country, that they are well clothed, that they are given courses in various languages and they are being told that soon they will depart for America. The end was that they were all taken to Oswiecim and gas-killed.

David Boder

Oswiecim?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes.

David Boder

That is where? [The interviewer obviously forgot himself and asked the question in English. She obviously took the last word for the German wer meaning who.]

Rachel Gurmanova

The Germans, sure.

David Boder

Oswiecim, where is that?

Rachel Gurmanova

Oswiecim is near Prokurow[ka] [?] There were horrible crematories.

David Boder

Is that the same as Treblinka?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. Yes. This happened two months earlier. Now when they were through with the Ghetto -- in May the destruction of the Ghetto was completed -- absolutely.

David Boder

That was the famous uprising...?

Rachel Gurmanova

The famous uprising and it was all devastated. The whole Ghetto was lying in shambles. And again they made an announcement, that the Jews who were living on the Aryan side may register and come out and may leave [town? Or the country?] [one sentence not clear] And those who -- of course those who had money are permitted to leave. And now my woman friend fell a victim of her money. Since she had money she paid up and departed.

David Boder

And where did you remain?

Rachel Gurmanova

I just remained, to go where the Germans were willing to send me.

David Boder

And where did you hide?

Rachel Gurmanova

I just remained in that apartment...

David Boder

And how about food and other things?

Rachel Gurmanova

Well, there was a Christian woman, the servant. She would go out shopping, we cooked and so it was...But once before day break, the 19th of August...

David Boder

Did you have Aryan papers?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. No. At that time not yet. At that time I did not have any Aryan papers. I remained in hiding. Not only I but eight people together.

David Boder

Were you able...that Christian woman, could you trust her?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes, that was such a Christian that one could trust. We knew who she was [??]...But here is the misfortune that happened in that dwelling. The sister-in-law of my woman friend was registered on Aryan papers. And she had a Jewish husband [?] a real Jewish husband. And he spoke not such a good Polish, and she was a simple Jewish woman, and to make it short, on the 19th of August, 1943, at half past twelve in the night on Thursday [she makes here a little slip, she says halfzw'lf which would really mean 11:30] -- the door opens and enter the Germans.

David Boder

In your apartment?

Rachel Gurmanova

In our apartment.

Rachel Gurmanova

In our apartment. And since they [the people in hiding] had money, they did not want to sit there in hiding [word not clear] and the Germans came in and found the hideout open, and they found there eighteen Jews.

David Boder

And you?

Rachel Gurmanova

And I among them.

David Boder

Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

So they started a 'aha, aha', what's going on, all of you come with us.' There was not far to go, because right near to us was the commandantura. We used to have every night a lookout, not all of us slept, one would sit up, and we used to hear distinctly how people were shot there, at the fifth house from us. Well, we could not help it, we had to go. So they lined us all up to face the wall, hands up, they search us, now we have to go. But we...

David Boder

Well, your woman friend was already away.

Rachel Gurmanova

No, no. My woman friend was still there, all of us were there. There were the following people besides me. My woman friend, her old mother, her brother with his wife and child, two friends of the brother, and a few more people [word not clear].

David Boder

In how many rooms?

Rachel Gurmanova

In three. But we were all in the hind room. We then...

David Boder

But all were able to hide there behind [the double wall] ?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes [word not clear]

David Boder

How many people?

Rachel Gurmanova

Eight people. We even slept there.

David Boder

Yes, go on.

Rachel Gurmanova

But the Christian woman was in a hurry -- We even had an agreement, that the door should not be opened until there was a signal for us to hide...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

...but stupidly the door was opened, they entered and found [us] they -- our hideout and there it was. They started searching and they took away a very large quantity of money, and diamonds, a heap, and they left. They even told us, 'you may remain living here.' And we had to remain living there because we had nowhere to go. [Note: the searchers apparently appropriated the loot and therefore preferred not to make the arrest. As a matter of fact, they might have staged the search on their own, without orders or knowledge of headquarters.]

David Boder

Who were they...Germans, Ukrainians...?

Rachel Gurmanova

Two Germans...Two Germans...

David Boder

And they themselves have taken away the money?

Rachel Gurmanova

The money, watches, diamonds,...oh, a lot of things, brooches, a lot, a lot of things. Of course, when the Germans would come into a home searching, they would take off the rings from the fingers, that was something ordinary. But they left. This was on a Thursday, the 19th of August 1942 [corrects herself] 1943, excuse me. And the 21st, on Saturday morning, half past six, they are here again. Already one of them, with three others. And he says: 'it has become known that there are Jews here. You have seen, I wanted to leave you here, but I am unable to do so, well, so we have to go, we are helpless...

Rachel Gurmanova

And so, we got ready. But we started to plead with him again, this was done already by the two friends of my woman friend's brother, and they let us off, again.

David Boder

Again, you gave money?

Rachel Gurmanova

Again money was given, not so much this time, and they let us free. But they told us 'you must leave immediately'...this dwelling.' And now, like a good angel, Irene appeared again...

David Boder

Well...

Rachel Gurmanova

[she repeats with emphasis] And now appeared, like a good angel, Irene. I must tell you, that must be called luck [??]. We had a kind of signal. There were two curtains [?] on the window tied up with a ribbon.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

When Irene wanted to come up, she would take a look to ascertain whether the ribbon, the green one, was there...

David Boder

Well...

Rachel Gurmanova

At that time...

David Boder

How can one tear away a ribbon?

Rachel Gurmanova

Not withstanding, while Germans were there, we got quietly to the window, and I took off the ribbon, and he [the German] noticed nothing. And as soon as she saw that, the ribbon was missing, she came up to us. The Germans had already gone, and we tell her what happened, so she says: 'don't get desperate, don't get desperate.'

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

I shall do something immediately. And she went to a woman friend of hers, which had a store, an electric [or elector??] Street, and since it was Saturday, she requested: 'I plead with you close up the store a bit earlier, and lock up my Jews.' And so it was done.

David Boder

And she was a Christian?

Rachel Gurmanova

A Christian, of course a Christian. So she locked us up in this store and left for home. All was well. Until Monday morning we remained, lying on the floor in that place.

David Boder

What kind of business did she have?

Rachel Gurmanova

Oh, women's fineries, stationery...

David Boder

So. Also a Christian?

Rachel Gurmanova

Sure, a Christian. It was outside the Ghetto.

Rachel Gurmanova

And by Monday, a new apartment was found. In this already the underground has helped a bit. And in the underground committee...

David Boder

A Jewish one?

Rachel Gurmanova

Poles and Jews together. All parties had united and I was given some relief because we already had nothing to live on.

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

With their help, we attained another dwelling and we settled there. There we had a small bare little room. Not more than a quarter of this one. Humid. If we put our shoes for the night under the beds, they were by morning molded green.

David Boder

Excuse me. She says 'about a quarter of this room.' Well this room is about 12 x 12. Go on.

Rachel Gurmanova

So we moved to that room. That is, the Christian woman who lived with us, she was the one who rented the room. The apartment consisted of three rooms with a kitchen. In two rooms, lived the owners of the apartment, and in one room lived that Christian woman.

David Boder

[She apparently points to some object in the room, but I failed to record at which] Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

This could be completely pulled out. And there was excavated a ditch, and in case somebody knocked at the door, the little box was pulled out, in one turn we crawled out, the little box was put back in place, and we were no more there.

David Boder

How many people were able to get into that ditch?

Rachel Gurmanova

Five.

David Boder

And who had dug out that ditch?

Rachel Gurmanova

The landlord of the apartment.

David Boder

Aha. Did he already know, that you have to hide?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. He knew. He constructed it specially.

David Boder

Yes. Is that what was called a bunker?

Rachel Gurmanova

A hide out. Yes. A bunker it could be called a bunker.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

But now, my woman friend and her sister-in-law said, that they could not live under such conditions. They would rather pay off, they will go to [word not clear] they will work and that's all.

David Boder

Your Jewish woman friend?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes, of course.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And they paid one hundred and twenty thousand zlotys....

David Boder

For each one?

Rachel Gurmanova

Nu. All together. That was a large amount, and one needed great pull to arrange it. And they managed to find that pull. Unfortunately I am unable to find this person [now] I should like to square our accounts. She was the go-between.

David Boder

A Christian person?

Rachel Gurmanova

[Hesitantly: a few words not clear]

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

Unfortunately, I think it was a Jewish woman.

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

And they departed. Ad so there remained in the room...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

I, my woman friend's old mother, the friend of her brother, the same of whom Eisurovich spoke today, [She refers to Surovwich, an active workers of the ORT who made that morning a speech at the ORT convention in Paris.

David Boder

Yes. What is his name?

Rachel Gurmanova

That is comrade Bernard [?]

David Boder

Yes. Nu.

Rachel Gurmanova

We remained in that room. We had an agreement with the underground organization.. There used to come to us people who had nowhere to sleep. There would come in general a lot of people. And how we happened to remain alive is a question. Afterwards, it revealed itself that the Christian [?] owner of the building had known about that ditch, and he said nothing during all that time.

David Boder

A Pole?

Rachel Gurmanova

A Pole. And in spite of that [?] he kept silent. And some remained living there from the 23rd of September 1943 up to the first of August 1944. Up to the insurrection of Bor [This is the famous insurrection of the Polish general who adopted the alias, Bor] The first of August started the insurrection of Bor. And again started the cannon fire, again worries, we were sitting there. And it was not comfortable. There arrived also a sister of the friend of my woman friend's brother. And the sister started talking, that now it is such a time, she does not know whether we all should remain together, and the 7th of August I departed from there.

David Boder

Did the place belong to her?

Rachel Gurmanova

What do you say?

David Boder

To whom did the place belong? You left -- was it not your place?

Rachel Gurmanova

No. I decided to leave them. I decided not to live any more with them...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

I decided to leave. I must tell you, that the underground committee had brought me on the first day of the outbreak of the insurrection a certain amount of financial support. They brought me food, they brought sugar, they brought candles...

David Boder

In the basement?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. The cannon fire was terrible. Around and around buildings were falling down. This house remained intact. And then, Bor's army surrendered, the Germans issued an order that all [?] inhabitants of Warsaw must leave the city. Then I left with the whole crowd, with the whole population so to speak.

David Boder

With the Poles.

Rachel Gurmanova

With the Poles. With my Aryan papers, already as a Polish person. With Polish [papers]. We were transported in railroad cars. We were told we are being taken to Oświe̜cim. And so...

David Boder

Oświe̜cim is...

Rachel Gurmanova

...in [word not clear] in [word not clear]

David Boder

Oświe̜cim...

Rachel Gurmanova

Oświe̜cim...Treblinka was near Siedlce, and Oświe̜cim is in the region of Krakow.

David Boder

Is Birkenau near Oświe̜cim?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, no. Birkenau was a different lager.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

But we were not taken to Oświe̜cim. We were transported to Oświe̜cim. We were transported into the region of Krakow. We were distributed in various villages and quartered with the peasants. I was placed with a peasant as a servant.

Rachel Gurmanova

I have seen the whole retreat of the German Army. In tatters, beaten, frozen, with bundles. Dragging themselves back on little peasant horses, dragging themselves back. And there arrived the army and I returned...[end of spool]

David Boder

[In English] Ehm... Spool 53. Mrs Gurman[ova] continues. Paris, August the 17th.

David Boder

[In German] Now tell me, the Russians came, and so you were liberated.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes.

David Boder

All right. Now go on.

Rachel Gurmanova

It lasted a long time...

David Boder

What lasted?

Rachel Gurmanova

...until I was able to go to Warsaw.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Because it was difficult.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

It happened...

David Boder

Where were you liberated?

Rachel Gurmanova

That was in a village, WąsÃw...

David Boder

Yes, How far...?

Rachel Gurmanova

Fifteen, fifteen kilometers from Krakow.

David Boder

Oh.

Rachel Gurmanova

There I was found by the liberation.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

There was a peasant a [word not clear]

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And they were very eager that I should not leave. I was a good servant.

David Boder

Yes. Did they pay you anything?

Rachel Gurmanova

No. Nothing.

David Boder

Did they give you food to eat?

Rachel Gurmanova

Very little. Very bad food. When I was liberated I weighed 47 kilo.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

Before the war 72. So you may already understand how well I have eaten. And I worked very hard. And the circumstances were so difficult, that even to leave the village one needed a permit.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

And to get the permit one had to get in line at 5 in the morning.

David Boder

From the Russians?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. From the Poles. They would process it and the Russian commandant had to approve it.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

So it was necessary to get in line at 5 o'clock in the morning. And to get at 5 in line one had to stay overnight in the village. And then there was an order that no stranger could stay there overnight under penalty of death. And so, I went four times, there and back in one day. Fifteen kilometers back. And there in the town itself I had to walk about ten kilometers. I got sick, And could not get the permit. Until once, when I was going again to the village, I cried bitterly, and it happened that my mistress was also going to the village. And she asked me : 'Why are you crying?' So I tell her, 'It won't help you anything. You won't be able to hold me...'

David Boder

Where, in the village?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes, in the village, so that I could get my permit.

David Boder

So...

Rachel Gurmanova

So I pleaded with them, her sister took me in for the night, I got in line. And I got my permit and departed for Warsaw. And in Warsaw I found myself with no place to live. It was impossible to find a dwelling...

David Boder

Did you find anybody from the ORT?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, absolutely nobody. I remained all alone.

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

But I encountered the son of Yashunski.

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

The young Yashunski. And he told me: 'Here I live in Lodz. In Lodz there are already a few Jews. Lodz is an important city, there is need [of] working people. You will soon find work. So come there.' So I departed for Lodz.

David Boder

One did not need a further permit?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, no. For Lodz one did not need a permit anymore. I took a rest, I departed for Lodz. I had -- well he helped me out a bit, because I was without money....

David Boder

Where did he get it?

Rachel Gurmanova

Well, he was already working. He was already the editor of a labor paper [the word not clear]

David Boder

Oh.

David Boder

Aha.

Rachel Gurmanova

...'44. He came from Vilno to Lublin before.

David Boder

Who had occupied Vilno?

Rachel Gurmanova

The Russians.

David Boder

Not the Poles?

Rachel Gurmanova

No, no....

David Boder

[not clear] it was occupied by the Russians.

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. And so I arrived, and soon, the same day -- I arrived at 8 o'clock in the morning in Lodz, and at 11 o'clock, I was already among Jews. [??] And I stared working, things went well [??] I started taking an interest in ORT, and it was my idea from the first minute...We organized [word not clear], we have now already five thousand [pupils] in seven cities [words not clear] and we improved the activities, we have schools, we have courses, and I have returned so to say, to my original life work.

David Boder

And where are your relatives?

Rachel Gurmanova

I lost everybody, I have one brother in the Union of the Soviets and one in the Land of Israel.

David Boder

Oh, you have a brother in the Land of Israel?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes, and one in the Soviet Union in Tashkent.

David Boder

In what Soviet Union? [She used the somewhat uncommon name for the Soviets -- Ratenverland, and therefore, the question]

Rachel Gurmanova

In Russia.

David Boder

In Russia? In the Soviet Union...

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes.

David Boder

Why did he go away to Russia?

Rachel Gurmanova

Oh, he remained there from the other war.

David Boder

From the other war?

Rachel Gurmanova

Yes. And here I have lost everybody. Not a single person...

David Boder

Whom did you have?

Rachel Gurmanova

I had a mother. I had a sister with a husband and two [?] children.

David Boder

[Not clear they talk at the same time] How came you lost your mother?

Rachel Gurmanova

I had a son [weeps]

David Boder

A son?

Rachel Gurmanova

[A pause, she apparently weeps, and continues through tears] my son did not enter the Ghetto...

David Boder

Yes.

Rachel Gurmanova

He said he shall not be put on the badge, he shall not wear the badge.

David Boder

Nu...

Rachel Gurmanova

And he remained on the Aryan side. For some time I received from him messages, he used to telephone to Yashunski. Afterwards, I lost contact, and I don't know anything about him. My mother lived in Wolin, and she was put to death the 29th of May, '42.

David Boder

How do you know?

Rachel Gurmanova

Some people came and told about it -- My sister with her children was put to death the 29th Oct... [she apparently repeats the previous date, then corrects herself] the 7th of October '42. My brother-in-law was shot earlier. And so the whole family, everybody, [the next few words are lost in tears]...

David Boder

Tell me, Miss Gurman[ova] how is the situation of the Jews at present? What do you say about the Progrom of Kielce?

Rachel Gurmanova

[Still in tears. One cannot help thinking her cautious reply has something to do with her necessity to return to Poland -- first words not clear] Always after a war, it is understood that various things may happen.

David Boder

It is a time of transition? And you think the Jews...

Rachel Gurmanova

[In a conciliatory tone..??] Well they hanged the people...who were guilty -- they were hanged.