David P. Boder Interviews Anna Kaletska; September 26, 1946; Wiesbaden, Germany

var english_translation = { interview: [ David Boder

This is reproduction spool 9-164B. The beginning of the interview of Anna Kalestka who in the book appears as Anna Kovitska. November 14 1950, Chicago. Boder.

David Boder

Wiesbaden, September . . . Wiesbaden, September 26, 1946. Already at three o'clock. I have to leave this town at five to get to Frankfurt and then to Paris. [unintelligible] a bit personal. It is the last day of my work in Germany . . . which to a large extent, I have officially to be thankful to the UNNRA, and unofficially to our friend, Jack Thompson, of the Chicago Tribune, who has done so much to realize, to help me to realize this project.

David Boder

I have before me a young woman . . . a young woman by the name of Chana or Anna Kaletska, meaning that her husband's name was Kaletski, and she is going to talk to us . . . Are you going to talk in Yiddish? [She apparently nods affirmatively.] She is going to talk to us in Yiddish.

David Boder

[In Yiddish] Now then, Mrs. Kaletski, will you please tell us where you are from and where you were when all the troubles and, so to speak, worries of the war started?

Anna Kaletska

I am from Poland somewhere between . . . and . . . [This part is not clear.]

David Boder

And where were you when the Germans came to Poland?

Anna Kaletska

In 1939, September 1st, I was still with my parents together in Kielce. My father was an important citizen in Kielce for about thirty-five years. Together with us on the night of Friday- from Thursday to Friday it was- there happened to be with us my brother from Potianice and a child of my oldest sister, a grandchild twelve years old. At six o'clock in the morning the first bombs fell over Kielce. I went down with my parents into the cellar, but my father did not want to go. He said: "From this one cannot hide in the cellar." Then he "said" a chapter from the Psalms. My youngest brother was in the war on the Polish side. And with it I thought that the world had come to an end. To lose my youngest brother! I did not want to live any more. So naive I was then, to think that all I would lose in the war was my youngest brother. Once during the first days of September I got up especially earlyâfive o'clock in the morning. There wasn't a single German to be seen on the street. So I said: "Mother, dear, maybe it was only a dream. Maybe they are really not here." Unfortunately, it was not a dream.. They were there, and they were there for a long time. My father had to leave his home to hide somewhere in the suburb. The Gestapo was looking for him. I remained alone with my mother in five rooms, and all through the night I was clinging to the window, running around in search. Where are the people who used to come every night- every evening- to see my father? Where are the grandchildren, who are afraid to cross the street and to come upstairs? Nobody was there.

David Boder

Please tell the facts.

Anna Kaletska

In November I departed with my parents from . . . (name of locality incomprehensible). We were told there was a prisoners' campâPshemish. I went across to the Russian side. I was not far from Grodno, and there I found everybody alive, and I looked for a place where I could bring over my parents. But in March it was already too late to bring somebody over, and so I remained in Grodno. Among the Russians the Jews lived just like all the other peoples.

David Boder

How did you get from Kielce to Grodno?

Anna Kaletska

I just got over there.

David Boder

You alone?

Anna Kaletska

All alone without my folks, without a means to communicate with them. I remained in Grodno.

David Boder

How old are you now?

Anna Kaletska

Thirty-four years. Yesterday was my birthday.

David Boder

On the eve of the New Year?

Anna Kaletska

In Grodno the Jews lived just like the other people. First there were those who lived in Poland before, and then there were those who came from the zone occupied by the Germans. And they all lived together. Some lived in the synagogues or in the streets, but still they all lived together. Somehow I adjusted myself in Grodno. One has to live. The only thing was the terrible worry about my parents, and the homesickness. And all day and all night fire was pouring over Grodno, and within a single twenty-four hours sixty per-cent of the city was destroyed; and we remained alive. I lived on a street in No. 9; No. 11 burned down. No's. 27,23, and 9- I remained alive. At No. 11 and at one side of No. 9, there fell a bomb, destroying everything. I remained alive- and again there came the Germans. In a monstrous fashion they chased people through the streets, and it soon started all over. This was in the East, with special laws. In a few days I got the idea that my husband was alive.

David Boder

It occurred to you, or you knew?

Anna Kaletska

I got the idea that my husband was alive and somewhere hiding in a village among the Germans, a prisoner. I wanted to run, but where to run? They didn't threaten me. I had to wait, and in a few days he came.

David Boder

He returned?

Anna Kaletska

Yes.

David Boder

What does it mean- you got an idea'? Somebody has written to you?

Anna Kaletska

No. At that time there came people who were together with him- with my man. And so they first brought me an idea.. [She apparently has used the Hebrew word "yidie" which means "message".] And my man succeeded in "blacking himself across." *The word "black" is a designation for illegal action, as in "black market" or "black papers," and it has become a verb- to do something illegal is often spoken of as "to black." *, to Wolkowysk and to mingle in with other prisoners. He had an uncle there, and so we got together. During the summer they still let us live in our apartment, although my husband had to work very hard, from six o'clock in the morning until six o'clock at night, together with all the others. And we still had at home some belongings, and we sold them, and we ate, and we hoped that possibly we might survive. The first of November we were driven into the Ghetto.

David Boder

Where?

Anna Kaletska

In Grodno, into the ghetto. They arranged two ghetto, one in Slobodka [The name Slobodka often is used to designate the poorer suburbs, or slums.] and one ghetto in the yard of the synagogue. At the beginning, the day when we came to the ghetto the wires were not ready, and it did not make such a terrible impression. But the next day everything was fenced up and there was an inscription on the gate- "From here one does not return." . . . [She is very much upset and for the next two sentences the wire is not clear.] We have learned that the Jew should never give up hope, and his spirit should never falter. But the heart was heavy. It was hard to bear. I was in my ninth month. We used to live like affluent citizens, my father-in-law, my man, and my sister-in-law. Now we were given a room of eight and one-half cubic meters,-- no, squares; I don't know how many cubic meters there were. And there I was to give birth to my child. One day they opened the ghetto, and every Jew was permitted to go into his home to fetch some things. Then my father-in-law went back to his home, and he saw the destruction of the home for which he has been working for thirty-years- and he returned gravely ill. He never got well again.

David Boder

What do you mean- he saw the destruction?

Anna Kaletska

There was his home, and he saw how it was ransacked and ruined.

David Boder

Who ransacked and ruined it?

Anna Kaletska

We left the house just as it was, with only the things on our body and a few bundles in our hands. And everything else had to be left. And the people, of course, who lived around- what did they care about the Jews! They just waited for such a moment. They went inside. The things of value the Gestapo themselves hauled away. My father-in-law had been working hard all his life, and when he saw what had become of his home, he took badly sick, and he remained sick up until the end. The 26th of November I gave birth to my child in the ghetto in my room, because there was not yet a Jewish hospital. The doctor- and everybodyâtried to comfort me. On the third day after my child was born, we were informed that we would be driven into barracks to Kelbasin, six kilometers away from Grodno. There were seventy thousand Russian prisoners, and after six weeks there remained only six thousand. To such a place they wanted to drive us away.

David Boder

What do you mean, there remained only six thousand?

Anna Kaletska

They died off from spotted fever, from various contagious diseases, as well as from starvation. I was not in Kelbasin, but a part of the Grodno Jews a year later were in Kelbasin, and there they died by the thousands. In the middle of Kelbasin there was an open pit, where they would throw the children, and they did not cover it up until it was full. Dead Jewish children. We did not go then to Kelbasin. They let us stay in the ghetto for a year.

David Boder

[In English] This concludes spool . . . This concludes Spool 164 which the . . . for 27 minutes was taken by Mr. Jack Matzner and then taken over by Mrs. Anna Kaletska. We are going over with Mrs. Kaletska to Spool 165. We are going over with Mrs. Kaletska to spool . . . Wiesbaden, September the 26th, 1946. My last day of interviewing in GermanyâI usually do not mention my name in these spools, but I am finishing a piece of work which I hope will do some good.

David Boder

[In English] Wiesbaden, September the 26th, 1946. Last day of the project in Germany. I have before me Mrs. Anna Kaletska, 34 years old, who will continue her report from Spool 164 to Spool 165. She's rather emotional and she cannot mobilize [unintelligible] with her voice [unintelligible]. Volume control is a bit high, which may not give a very good reproduction but it will be enough for transcription.

David Boder

[In Yiddish] And so you had your baby? What was it, a boy or a girl?

Anna Kaletska

A little girl.

David Boder

And you continued living for a whole year in the ghetto?

Anna Kaletska

In the ghetto.

David Boder

Now go ahead.

Anna Kaletska

At the end of the summer people began to arrive from everywhere. From here, from there, from Brest-Litovak, from Lemberg.

David Boder

Did you know anybody in Slonim? Do you remember any name?

Anna Kaletska

There was a Jew from Kielce in Slonim, a son of a very prominent, wealthy man from Kielce, Chaim Zagalski, with his daughter; he ran away from Kielce, and they were heard of from Slonim. And we sent a man from Grodno to bring him over. So he found the door nailed shut, the house empty; Chaim Zagalski was not there any more. There were left in Slonim about two hundred Jews, out of a population of nine thousand Jews before the start of the slaughter, or possibly even more- I don't know. There were a lot of refugees from districts previously doomed by the Germans. I did not know the district of Slonim. There was a great Slonim rabbi, whose name I don't know. And these two hundred Jews had numbers hung on them (the Christians made them wear them), and they had to report every day to the square, an place of roll call, and they were sent to work. Work! We too had worries about work! The day my man was working, we had hope to survive that day. But when people came to the gates of the ghetto and said, "no more work required," that was a dark day. We knew it was coming. November 1, 1942, the ghetto was surrounded. Every few steps stood an armed German, with his gun ready, and at some distance on the hill machine guns. They told us nothing, but they took us "to work." We knew what that meant. And nearby were Russians, Poles; not all but many were waiting for what they could inherit from the Jews. Possibly they had waited so that in case the Germans themselves would not put an end to us, they could step in.

David Boder

Step in for what?

Anna Kaletska

So they could consummate the terrible deed. That is what we were told from Brest-Litovsk and other Ukranian cities. And in Russia, as far as Stalingrad and the Ural [mountains], the Germans did it themselves. They could not relinquish the "sacred labor", and they had their mission. However, it did not start that day, nor later. With a sadistic forethought, they told us: "Have no care, this will become a labor lager, my word of honor." said Herr Ehrlich, the Gestapo chief, to the Community Council. "Mass murder! Oh, no; that is out of the question- deportation, neither!! It will be converted into a work-lager, no more loafing. And believe me, my word of honor." Believe his word of honor! In two weeks it started. First we saw them transporting the inhabitants of the smaller towns, from Slobodka,âon horse carts, old, broken down, sick people, and on foot the young ones; towards Bialystok they were led. And when they were through with the small towns, it commenced in Grodne. First came Slobodka. The first street. . . . my father,âthat is, my father-in-law,âI must save my child. Possibly we should get away at night to some Poles, old acquaintances, and hide there. My husband, myself, my sister-in-law, and a girl friend who was with us, we shall get away to the partisans, and Father with the child should remain with the Poles. But he refused. And so it was. He resigned himself to death. To me he said: "Take the child and save yourselves. Go to the other ghetto. There they are still allowed to remain." I was the first to go over to the second ghetto with the child. In a few days came my man. Father told him: "For the sake of the child, go!" He himself remained there. His younger daughter Zina- he could not abandon her, and they both went off with a transport, most probably to Treblinka. Within a week they started the ghetto in the yard of the synagogue. The most horrible was that the Jewish Police (at the beginning we were not told about the horrible role they would have to play) they came and led us, assembled for the slaughter there, to the synagogue, at night. Every few nights we would sit upâI, my man (the child was asleep, all dressed, and we expected the police to come after us. Every night we said Vida (the prayer of those who expect to die) of our own composition, and forgave each other, but they did not come. My man worked then as a carpenter (he is a lumber sorter by trade), and this kept us there. Once my man said: "I can't make peace with them. Our child must be saved even if we two shall die. We have nobody any more. You look like a Christian; get out with the child. Put it next to a Christian orphanage. Orphans also may be lucky sometimes. I can't want her to die." It snowed that night. It was 25 degrees cold. [Below zero centigrade.] Sixteen Jews fell at the gate in the first attempt to escape. I went over the wires in the second attempt, and my man handed me the child, and I carried her away.

David Boder

How did you get over the wires?

Anna Kaletska

My man set up a chair for me. He raised one wire, and I crawled through.

David Boder

Weren't those electric wires?

Anna Kaletska

No, then they had no electric wires. He handed me the child. And I went out in the street. I removed the yellow patch, and I went down the street. It was eight o'clock. At nine o'clock it was curfew hour. I did not know where to go. All at once I remembered a Christian woman whom I happened to know, and I went to her and said: "This is all that I have got; take the child and carry it to an orphanage. Say, you have found it in the street. I am returning to my man, and we shall perish together." She started to wring her hands, a Christian woman whom I had possibly seen only twice before. And she said: "I am afraid (the Poles were threatened with death for such things); put her in the street. I will come out of the house with a neighbor woman; we shall come out as if by accident. I will pick up the child and take her tomorrow to the orphanage, but you go away immediately." And so she has taken my child. I went with her down to the door, and there I stood across the street, hidden in the gate, and I saw how my child was lying on the snow. And here, I could not pick her up, the child that I had brought into the world! I knew that that will save her life. That is what I hoped. [A few words in this sentence are not clear. She is sobbing, and even by slowing down the wire and listening to this section over and over, I have been able to understand only about three words. I do not think that the translation of the phrase "the child I brought into the world" is entirely correct.] In a few minutes she came out of the house and picked up the child. I ran away through the streets of Grodno, and I didn't think of the curfewâthat I might be caught,âand I didn't know how to get back to the ghetto, as it was such a late hour. There was a Christian woman in the city, with whom I had once worked during the time of the Soviets. I stepped in to her, and a girl friend of mine was hiding there. I entered the house, and I said, "Panuvka *This is a respectful and at the same time endearing name for a Polish woman. *, I don't have my child any more. How light my hands feel!" Then she said, "Twenty-six hours you have suffered to bring her into the world, and now you will suffer as long as you live." I didn't ask her for muchâjust to keep me over night. She couldn't help me for much longer, because on Sunday no one could show himself in the city. The Germans were grabbing the people and dragging them to work in Germany. I wanted to return to the ghetto. Then thousand Jews were deported that day. The ghetto was surrounded. One couldn't get in, nor could one get out. Part were going to Treblinka, and to get in one also didn't know how. I ran into a Christianâhe was a working man. [Recording not clear.] I told him I am a Jewessâ"I can't get into the ghetto." And he said, "Get out of the city. You do not look Jewish. Go where ever you can, but don't remain here. You see here it burns." And so I departed alone, without papers, into the woods. I did not know the roads. Through the woods, into a Russian village. I entered. "Give me some water." If one is alive, one has to drink water. And sometimes one has to eat. Everybody gave me something. I did not look Jewish, but they knewâwhat else could be driving me in the snow through the woods? Everyone kept me for one night.

David Boder

The Christians?

Anna Kaletska

The ChristiansâI can't complain. Everybody gave me warm water to wash myself. They gave me food, so that I should have strength to wander farther. And there was a preacherâA Christian, a Catholic. He hid me "for strength" for eight days. But it drove me back to Grodno to find out what was going on. The priest encountered some Jews that were going to work. She he asked them: "Do you know whether Jack Kovitzki is there?" So they said: "He is there, he has remained alive." Three thousand Jews were still in Grodno. So he said, "Tell him that his wife is aliveâthat she does not want to remain among us. She wants to go back, and in a few days she will be back." The next week he took me out part of the way in a cartâto go further, he was afraid. And I went alone towards GrodnoâI can't remember how many kilometers. I arrived in Grodno. It's the same story againâhow does one get inâinto the ghetto? And then it occurred to me that my father had a chauffeur, a Christian, a decent man.

David Boder

He had a what?

Anna Kaletska

A chauffeur.

David Boder

A chauffeur?

Anna Kaletska

A driver.

David Boder

(hesitantly) Did he have a --?

Anna Kaletska

(interrupting) Yes, my father-in-law, had--

David Boder

An automobile?

Anna Kaletska

Yes. He was a good business man; so he had an automobile and a driverâa very decent person. He lives now in the yard of the house that once belonged to my father-in-law. So I went to him. He didn't know me, but I gave the name of Meyer Kovitzki, and he said: "Don't be afraid. You can be with me as long as you want." But he had a wife and a child, and I did not want to cause him anxiety. So I went down to the cellar, and he went to the ghetto to find out about things, and Friday morning his own wife went with me through the streets, and she led me to the ghetto. Then another Pole helped me to get in. But before I went in, he told me: "You know where you are going?" And I said, "Where is my man, and where is my place?" That was on Friday noon. I was there all night until five o'clock in the morning. At five o'clock in the morning again shooting and screaming. A new transport. And I and my husband went to this transport towards the synagogue. Then the whole night we stayed in the synagogue. In the synagogue it was crowdedâheavy and crowded. One could not breathe. The whole night without a drop of water, and outside the shooting. At two o'clock in the morning we were driven out to the train. And my husband said: "No, you are not going to die. Because you have returned to me, is that why you should perish?" And I said, "I cannot beâI am already tired. Maybe I shall rest in the grave." But he did not wish to understand, and just one street away from the train he pushed me into a gate, in spite of the guards, because it was still dark. We remained standing in the gateway until morning. We both took off our [yellow] patches. What to do now?

David Boder

He with you?

Anna Kaletska

Yes. What to do now? Where to go? A city where everybody knew my husband. Again I went to the suburb, again to an acquaintance, a Christian woman. We washed and got ready to start out at night. We rested up, then wandered on. No arms, no money, nothing. If we only could reach the partisansâat least to sell our lives dearly! . . . But where are the partisans? They tell us 150 kilometers away, and one had to go in the direction of Stutin.

David Boder

Stutin?

Anna Kaletska

Stutin. [She apparently refers to Szczecin] One night I had it easyâa womanâI looked like a Christian. I do not know where to spend the night. In Nieman we went into a little house. There lived a widow, A ChristianâI don't know her nameâwith her son. It was dangerous for themâit was hazardous. But they took us in and gave us a place to sleep and watched all night, in case the Germans might come. She had a son whom they wanted to drag away to work, and in the morning they gave my man shaving things, and they gave me plenty of food, and at night we slept in an open shack, and in the morning we marched on. Not all WhiteRussians were that way. Another after giving us food reported us: "Two people have passed byâmust be Jews." And we were taken to the Gestapo.

David Boder

You?

Anna Kaletska

I and my man. [A pause, she weeps convulsively.]

Anna Kaletska

In the gestapoâI don't known what happened there. When I saw my man receiving the first blow, something tore apart in me. I don't know what happened. My man was being beaten: "My wife is Polishâyou are making a mistake. She wants to die with me together. But this is not true; she is not a Jewess." And then he asked me: "Are you a Jewess?" "Yes, I am Jewish."â"That is nonsense, you do not look Jewish."â"Still I am Jewish." But my man continued repeating that I was a Christian until they were taken by doubts. There was a Polish policeman present. WhiteRussians in dark blue uniforms. "Oh, so you are loving a Jew?" And I replied: "I am Jewish. I am not ashamed." The whole night they kept us locked up, calling us out separately. My husband and then me alone, then both of us together. My husband whispered to me, "I plead with you, go try to live. Go back to Grodno. You will be a mother to the child. Maybe you will tell her some day that she had a father." And I yielded, and I went out to live.

David Boder

What do you mean, to live?

Anna Kaletska

Then before they led me away, the Gestapo man said, "I give you my word, you will live and your husband will live." Here I was being separated from my manâcould one believe them? And still it was a ray of hope. [A prolonged spell of weeping sets in.]

David Boder

(Into the microphone) We are lighting our cigarettes. I can't find any water. [To Anna] Nu?

Anna Kaletska

I was transported away to a lager. There were WhiteRussians, criminals, Poles. People who have slaughtered a----.

David Boder

You were not set free?

Anna Kaletska

No, I was sent to the lager, together with Aryans. WhiteRussians. Women who have been peddling liquor. Those who had slaughtered a calf without a permit. And there they held me for observation. The first three weeks I constantly argued that I was a Jewess. "Don't hold me here. My place is with the other Jews." But if one is still alive after three weeks, one adjusts to the idea that one has to stay alive, and now I said nothing And then in time I would myself claim to be a Christian . . . [Here is a short break in the wire, about two words missing.] In a few weeks, I can't remember any more exactly, they shipped me to Germany, together with a transport of Gentiles, to work in East Prussia. I really don't remember what happened to me. Up to the time I was shipped to Auschwitz, I was like half-conscious. It was the worstâ(and then apparently answering a question of Boder's that did not come through the microphone) Tattooed? 257539âcorrection 82529 and a triangle.

David Boder

The triangle means Jewish?

Anna Kaletska

Yes.

David Boder

Go ahead.

Anna Kaletska

All the time I tried to take hold of myself. I had decided that I must live. Now I can tell what was hardest to bear. It was the satisfaction of those Poles and WhiteRussiansânot like those that gave me shelter. There were all kinds of them. And they spoke of the extermination of the Jewsâwith all the details.

David Boder

Were you taken to Auschwitz as a Jew?

Anna Kaletska

Later I reported to the "police" that I was a Jewess. I wanted to die together with the Jews than to live this way. They did not believe me. They thought I must have gone crazy because my husband was taken away. After that they held me for a month in a Koenigsberg prison, and then I was sent to Auschwitz. By the time of our arrival at Auschwitz, I had lost all semblance of a human being. Now when I encountered people who have seen me in Auschwitz, they tell me . . . [here she begins to sob violently, and the whole sentence sounds incoherent. It is possible that by slowing down the wire we could get the words. We will do that later, but now we are continuing with the next sentence. The last few words seem to sound like: "I saw him everywhere among people."] I believed it was real. In Auschwitz I met a girl friend from Kielce, and she told me that the oldest daughter of my brother has remained alive, as well as the wife of my youngest brother. Both are in a working camp in . . . [the name of the city is not clear.] Then I was taken by hope that I would see them. And that gave me some courage, in spite of the fact that in Auschwitz I was a complete so-called Mussulman.

David Boder

You?

Anna Kaletska

Yes, I was a Mussulman. A kind of people who wouldn't eat. I could not eat. There was food, but I could not eat. I was sick. I was sick at my mouth. I don't know what they called that sickness. A kind of eruption. Then my tongue became completely hard. My legs were covered with boils. Then my illness from beforeâgall stonesâIn Auschwitzâin Auschwitz not to appear to the appell meant death, and still the supervisers of the barracks had pity on me and let me remain on the cot up to the last moment when already the SS men had come for roll call. Then they would drag me off the cot and lead me out. In Auschwitz I had a change of mind. I decided again to live. There appeared one day in my block a distant cousin of mine, a girl, Nelly Kovitzka, a seventeen-year old girl. Her face was that of my little girl. And I was overcome with hope I should return. Maybe she is alive . . . [three or four words unintelligible]. And I started to fight again, to struggle for life, in Auschwitz. I became a- I was cleaning the block. A block that housed thirteen hundred people. I cleaned it, I scrubbed it, and for that I would get another helping of soup, and at times I would get a little piece of bread that the blokova would leave uneaten. Then in spite of curfew I dressed up. In Auschwitz there was enough to wear. There was the clothing of the dead. They were burning people every day. The whole night the ovens would flame, and the skies red, dark red, just like . . . . [the next word is not clear.] One night I was standing in front of the block. A Christian block trusty stood near by. That night they were burning from the Gypsy Lager. I don't know how many thousands were there.

David Boder

Who were in the Gypsy Lager?

Anna Kaletska

The Gypsy camp was a camp where there were Gypsies exclusively. They were not tattooed. They were assembled there, and then they all were burned. I don't know. Possibly they were not even gassed, because of the horrible screams coming from there. Moreover one could somehow feel it. And there I was standing, and I mumbled to myself, and I said, "Dante was just a dog. They know it much better." And the Christian woman heard it, and she said to me [and here she imitates a voice of extreme surprise], "You know about Dante? How do you come to know anything about Dante?" She thought that I always must have been looking like thatâlike in Auschwitz. And from that night we became friends.

David Boder

A Christian woman?

Anna Kaletska

A Christian woman. She was a block trusty. And she had the say over life and death. But she was a human being. Only afterwards I realized that she was a human being. In spite of the fact that she would beat us, and in spite of all that, she was fighting for the life of every prisoner. For the Christians she did not have to fight. Christians normally did not go to the ovens, only those who had died. But for the Jews she had to fight. Two years ago [this with some hidden light in her voice] on Rosh Hashona [the interview was taking place on Rosh Hashona of 1946, and she apparently refers to an incident exactly two years before] just two years ago, there was to be a selection. A selection was when they re-sorted the peopleâwho for the ovens and who should stay alive. So she took all the weak and the sick, including myself, and sent them away outside the lager for work, Aussenkomando, so they should not be present for the "selection." However, there was no selection afterwards. But I became convinced that she was really human, that if she mistreated and beat us, it was only because she herself wanted to survive and wanted us to survive.

David Boder

She was a Christian?

Anna Kaletska

(emphatically) A Christian woman. But she wanted to earn the confidence of the SS men. She was a political prisoner.. A very intelligent woman, from Warsaw, a colonel's daughter. I stayed on in the lager for part of a year. I was gravely ill with gallstones. So she herself cooked me some food that I could stand, and she shielded me and reported that I am working for her and that I do not have to go to work. By the end of the summer there passed through Auschwitz my brother's daughter and my brothers wife. They again told me that I am the oldest in our family and that I must live.

David Boder

What does it mean, they passed through?

Anna Kaletska

They were transported through Auschwitz to a work lager in the direction of Hindenburg. They were in Auschwitz only a few hours.

David Boder

Then you have seen them?

Anna Kaletska

Yes, somebody came and told me; I went over there and managed to see them. But afterwards I did not believe that they were taken to a work camp, because nobody believes that one can come out alive from Auschwitz, although the Red Army was already at the gates of Warsaw. In September more transports were sent away, and we didn't know where to. In October I decided to get away from Auschwitz. Be what it may, better come death, but no Auschwitz. To have to look on how living human beings stand in line waiting for death, and to say nothing, and they don't even cry. They would not cry. Once the Christian block trustys reproached me: "Why are they going with such indifference to death? Why don't they fight? Why don't they kill somebody?" So I replied, "You haven't been in a ghetto. You have not seen how Jews went away in transports with congealed nerves [verglievert]. A human being can cry himself dry; a human being clings to life, and up to the last moment there is a ray of hope and they are defenseless. And they have no arms. How can you say that? Maybe you just want to soothe your conscience talking that way." And the same day a miracle happened. The Jews seized the oven. They first threw in some forty SS men, and then, with them one hundred-fifty lost their lives, and a hundred-fifty ran away into the woods to the partisans. Of course, it was with help from outside, of partisans.- of Poles and other nationalities.

David Boder

Do you really know that for sure?

Anna Kaletska

[with excitement] I was present and now in . . . there was a girl, Kathe. She now has left for the land of Israel, in . . . [Here she gives a name of a place which I cannot understand. It sounds like Alia Beth]. And it was she personally who threw in the bomb. I was then assigned to outside work, and I have seen it myself, and so shall I see the delivery of all the Jews.

David Boder

Do you mean to say that they threw the SS men into the oven?

Anna Kaletska

That was a few kilometers from our lager, Breginski. The commandos that were doing the burning were Jews. There were about fifty people present . . .

David Boder

And you?

Anna Kaletska

They were guarded by SS men, and then they were . . . (pause, and the conversation becomes incoherent), and then I just heard the explosion, and when I came out I saw the oven in flames. And then we heard shooting. The result was that the SS men were caught unawares, and they threw them into the burning oven, and afterwards -

David Boder

How can forty people be thrown into one oven?

Anna Kaletska

Those were such pitsâ[the recording becomes rather confused; and is not at all clear]. They threw them in, and afterwards they blasted the oven. One hundred-fifty were shot, and one hundred-fifty got away into the woods. And I thought then, maybe we shall still survive. An answer has come to what she had said the about the Jews. If others would be saying it, I wouldn't care; but if such a Christian, who was so valuable to us and respected, [should think that way]âthat we cared. Why should she say the Jews have no courage? That hurts. And now this happens. In October they began to assemble transports from Auschwitz. I had no hope to get away with the transport, because I looked very sick, but I dressed, and I painted myself for each appell, to give myself colorâthey shouldn't see my deadly paleness.

David Boder

What were you doing?

Anna Kaletska

For each appell I painted my face, so they shouldn't see how terribly pale I was.

David Boder

Where did you get the stuff?

Anna Kaletska

Well, there would come transports of Jews from all over the world, and they did not know what their fate would be. So every woman still had these things. And they would lie on the dumps, and those who had access to the dumps would collect it and would give it to everyone who looked bad, to cover it up. And so I was heavily painted. One day they came to our block and told us that we are going to the transportâto lead us to a transport block. And I too was selected during the appell. And so we went to block 31, the transit block. Here we remained for eight days. Then there was a selection and we were sent to the shower bath. That was a bathing room, where people would bathe, and afterward everyone was looked over. For me that was very dangerous; so a woman, a block servant, told me: "Don't go in there. Simply sneak out through the other side and stand up with those on the right side, because externally you look well." And so I mingled in with three hundred other women, and I went away with a transport to Lippstadt. In Lippstadt there was work. In Auschwitz there was no work. In Lippstadt they manufactured ammunition, and there the strength to live returned to me. To work!âI should stamp cartridges for machine guns, with which the Germans would shoot (and these were the last munition factories) the Americans who came to liberate us! And because I looked so [decrepit] they thought that I was such a fool! In a few days I learned the mechanism of my machine, and in a few days I started to work very ardently. The assigned quota was twelve thousand, but I would produce fifteen thousand pieces. But fifteen thousand smaller ones and fifteen thousand larger ones, never the caliber that was prescribed. When they discovered it, there were eighty thousand rejected pieces. My foreman came over to me and said: "If you do it once more, I shall chop off your hand." So I said, "Oh [here her voice becomes ironical, and she speaks in perfect German], you can report that I am doing sabotage? Then they make me altogether kaput." "Oh, for that you are much too dumb!" I don't know, maybe he had noticed what I was doing, but it may have been too late, and he already was responsible along with me. I can't be so naive as to assume that the Germans wanted to cooperate with me against Hitler. Such do not exist. But to the last moment they had fate. In the faces of the Germans I read just like in a newspaper. They were very sad the last days. It was already the year 1945, in March. They still drove us to work, and they would beat us at every air raid alarm. But, thank God! The air raid alarm would last for twenty-four hours. They would run into the air raid shelter, and we would run right out into the yard. We would run out into the yard, and laugh, and the SS men would say to us: "Aren't you afraid? Do you think that your friends will spare you?" [She continues with laughter in her voice] "You are afraid! Why aren't you in the battlefield? All you are fighting with is eight hundred defenseless and weak women. That is the kind of heroes you are!" The girls thought that I was again insane, like I had been in Auschwitz. But it was indifferent to me. [Here again the record loses its clearness]. To die in such a fashion may be well worth while. The 27th of March we were driven out of Lippstadt.

David Boder

1945 or 1944?

Anna Kaletska

1945. They drove us out from Lippstadtâat night we were evacuated. We were to go to Bergen-Belsen [ this with irony in her voice]. They couldn't take us any more to Bergen-Belsen, but they didn't know. Driven at night and during the day locked up in shops. [In the midst of her German she uses the English word "shops". That is one of those new words that was adopted into the German language during the war]. They had everything ready to finish us off. But there was no more time.

David Boder

What do you mean, finish you off?

Anna Kaletska

They had orders not to release us alive. On the third day at dawn we remained standing in a little lane, deep in mud, and the top division leader was frothing at his mouth. We heard already the rumbling American tanks, and we were led into the woods. I don't know how they happened not to hit us. So he says (he still yelled then), "You band of Jew-pigs." And he left us alone with all the SS men, and he himself ran away. So I said then to one of the girls, "You know, I don't know whether we shall survive, but he will not come back any more." So she says: "I have a half a bread and I give you this half a bread if that should happen the way you say." And I still thought that I would have a chance to eat that half a bread in case he should not return. But it has become very late. And it happened the first of April, 1945, a quarter of nine. Shooting!

David Boder

In the evening or in the morning?

Anna Kaletska

In the morning. Shooting, [with joy in her voice] Americans! They are shooting at us, and here we are, together with the SS men, lying under the trees. The bullets whistled. [She uses the expressionâbullets burned]. And we laughedâcrazy of us. The SS men stood around. They were no heroes any more. They don't know where to run. Only five minutes before, they wouldn't run away. They could not leave us alone. They still believed in the Fuehrer. And now they were standing with their arms down. They were still ordering to go to the "shops", but nobody went. We remained lying down right there. The Americans fired three times, and then a silence came over us. An aeroplane came down at low altitude, and a white flag [here she sobs again], and it was spread out.

David Boder

What do you mean, a white flag?

Anna Kaletska

The Germans raised a white flag. The name of the town is Kaunitz, in Westphalia near Lippstadt, twenty-seven kilometers from Lippstadt. And here we were, almost crazy. We haven't a strip of a white thing. Somebody had a bandage around a wounded leg, and that bandage was raised at an approaching American tank, and the women prostrated themselves on the ground, kissing the wheels. The Americans thought it was a house of the insane. They looked at us. [I am not sure of the correct translation of the next few sentences.] And how we looked! All in tatters. [Her words are barely audible.] And speakingânobody could. We were all speechless. And then he understood, and two tears rolled down his face. [Again the text is not clear, she is very upset.] And until the others arrived, he wept with us. Not a Jewâa Christian. And then they began to arrive, the tanks. It was Passover. The last day of it. And matzos [Unleavened bread, eaten by Jews at Easter] fell from the tanks. And chocolate and cigarettes. And they would jump off the tanks and they were kissing us. Us dirty and lousy ones. "Do not weep," they would say. But we wept more and again. And incessantly the tears ran. The Ninth Army had not seen any Jews in Germany, and we thought that we were the only Jewish survivors, and we did not want to live. But they consoled us. They were telling us that there were many other armies that have reached other lagers which were liberated. That was liberation. We were all dead sick. I was half swollen. Immediately the American army led us into homes. They burned everything we had on us, although we wanted to save the clothing. But it was all infected, and we were afraid to keep it. Dirty. And we changed our clothes, putting on whatever we could. We could take things, good things, from the Germans. We took it from the Germans [with irony in her voice], they gave it to us themselves. They were afraid now. We dressed [here her voice again breaks into sobs]. We washed ourselves, with soap, warm water, a clean towel, pure underwear. [She uses the English word "pure"]. Oh! The Americans themselves were crazy with joy. They now understoodâ"You are going to liberate human beings." And that army hadn't seen before those who were liberated. We were the first ones, and they were rejoicing like little children. And in the evening one American put on his head a hat, a German hat, a womans hat, and another one played some kind of instrument, and he danced with a little girl from our lager. I shall not forget it, ever. [She weeps again and speaks in exhaustion.] For the first time we got into the lager a radio, and we heard the news. Bergen-Belsen liberated. Thirty thousand hopelessly sick. Thousands and thousands dead. Who knows whether my people were there? Everybody thought so, and their eyes would run out [in tears.] Buchenwald.

David Boder

Lagers?

Anna Kaletska

Liberated. Should it be possible that anyone would be found. That anyone should have survived? And I am here already a year. I searched. I found a daughter of my brother.

David Boder

Where?

Anna Kaletska

She was in Bergen-Belsen. The Rabbi Shubow brought her, the daughter and my brother's wife.

David Boder

An American Rabbi?

Anna Kaletska

Joseph Shubow from Boston. Joseph Shubow from Boston. He was with us.

David Boder

Where are they now?

Anna Kaletska

My sister-in-law is now in Norway. She has an aunt there. And my brother's daughter [she starts weeping again] returned to Poland to bring her brothers who also remained alive. And with this in Kielce,âI learned the whole storyâthe whole pogrom, and my eyes ran out [in tears] from horror. The community of my father, it consisted of twenty-four thousand Jews, and only three hundred remained. And lately there were only a hundred Jews, and forty-two were killed in Kielce. And my brother's son was recently in Kielceâabout twenty years of age. Now he is in Lodz and has a little baby. His wife recently gave birth to the child, and that is why he can't come yet. I hope every moment that they will arrive. My father had twenty-four grandchildren. My little daughter was the twenty-fifth. I don't have my child. Three weeks before the arrival of the Red Army, the woman was reported, and they took away my child and the woman.

David Boder

The Germans?

Anna Kaletska

The Germans. They were in Grodno in 1944. That I know now. And the child was murderously shot. After liberation the woman [she chokes in tears with the next wordâone understands it by inference] exhumed the child, and the physician who had delivered the baby was present when she was exhumed from a grave in a Christian cemetery. The Jewish cemetery does not exist any more in Grodno. It was desecrated.

David Boder

[In English] Wiesbaden, September the 26th, 1946. I am struggling with time. Mrs. Kaletska is going over to the third spool and I want to let her finish.

David Boder

[In Yiddish] Let's have it again. What were you telling me about your baby?

Anna Kaletska

Last year, about the end of the year, I went to Poland with the hope to find my child. I arrived in Lodz, and the wife of the doctor told me the child was not alive, that the Christian woman was thrown in jail because she was reported.

David Boder

But the Christian woman was in Grodno?

Anna Kaletska

Yes, she [apparently the doctor's wife] also came from Grodno. She was evacuated from Grodno and came to Lodz. That Christian woman was held in jail with the child. An investigation was made, and it was found out that she had picked up the child on the street. They established then that it was a Jewish child, and they . . . [here she cuts off a word which she started to say and which apparently means "killed it." It is also possible that she did not finish the sentence because the meaning was obvious and because she was interrupted by the interviewer].

David Boder

How could they establish that the girl was a Jewish child?

Anna Kaletska

TheyâI don't know how they established it. Possibly somebody reported to them, because the child looked later very much like my husband. The Kovitzki's were a well-known family, and they all resembled each other very much. It was also suspicious, because the woman was childless, and she had not given away the child to an orphanage.

David Boder

Oh, she did not place the child in an orphanage?

Anna Kaletska

Because she loved the child, she kept the child like her own. And she left for me a presentâa few pictures. I will show them to you right away. [As I remember it, she looked in her pocketbook.] Oh, no. I don't have them with me. And they buried the child three weeks before the Red Army marched in. When the Red Army arrived the woman interfered, requesting a permit to bury the child. It was said that I apparently was not alive any more; but they wanted to remove the child from the Christian cemetery. The Jewish cemetery was entirely desecrated.

David Boder

Have you seen the woman afterwards?

Anna Kaletska

No, the woman I haven't seen any more.

David Boder

So, how did you get the pictures?

Anna Kaletska

The pictures she left with a woman friend of mine who was saved. She lived on "Aryan papers" near Grodno. About twelve kilometers from there. And this woman friend of mine went to this [Christian] woman and wanted to take my child back. So she gave her the pictures. And so I don't have the child. Then there was a rumor that my husband was alive, Jacob Kovitzki. Somebody wrote from Kovno, but I didn't know where he is, and a year has passed. I was unable to find him. Maybe he went into Russia, but so far there is nothing from him. Now I am working in Pfalzheim, in a kindergarten. There are twenty little Jewish children. And I play with them, and then I forget about all that. Again I have around me Jewish children. But after work, to come alone to my roomâtoday is a holiday. Where are all mine, who used to celebrate the holidays with me? Thank God! There are Jews staying with me on a holiday. Not a holiday in Auschwitz. But my people are no more. I am alone. [This whole section on Spool 167 was spoken with sobs, which are clearly heard on the wire. The woman was very much beside herself. I had a hard time to keep her in line with the microphone, and now I don't find a little episode which she told me, apparently after I had stopped the machine. It is not on the wire, but here it is, written from memory: "Last night, and that means on the first evening of Rosh Hashona we, like at home, prepared the holiday meal, and as was customary at home, we invited a soldier to share it with us. But this time it was not a poor soldier, away from home, who had to be fed, but an American Jewish soldier, who, accepting the invitation, brought us an armful of gifts, all kinds of American food and delicacies."]

David Boder

[In English] We have to conclude, my automobile is waiting. [unintelligible] . . . very valuable material, that I have to cancel another appointment. Wiesbaden, September the 46th, in the synagogue that was desecrated in 1937 or '38, and which had its holiday service for the first time today, although not yet re-dedicated. What we have heard from this woman . . . is about a story what we have heard from everybody. I'm concluding my project in Germany, and I want to thank the UNRRA, Jack Thompson from the Chicago Tribune, Paul and Ms. Gurman, Morris Alther, Henry McCarthy and Harriet McCarthy, my daughter Elena Boder and my son in law, Ledewitz, Dave Siegel, and all those who made this project possible. Ben Weintraub, and Eve in Munich. And also Salk. I can't speak, I don't recall, remember the names now because I am just in a trance after this woman's report. I am concluding this project, the automobile is waiting, I am going to Frankfurt. Who is going to sit in judgment of all this, and who is going to judge my work? Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording. I am leaving tonight for Paris, the project is concluded.