David P. Boder Interviews Raisel Meltzak; September 8, 1946; Bellevue, France

var english_translation = { interview: [ David Boder

[In Yiddish] Talk in here. And so, Rose, tell me again, what is your name and how old are you?

Raisel Meltzak

[Words not clear] . . . speak Polish?

David Boder

No, no, no. I have asked you before. Yiddish. You must speak Yiddish. Nu?

Raisel Meltzak

Rose Meltzak. On the 30th . . .

David Boder

How old are you?

Raisel Meltzak

Eh . . . eh . . . /pause/

David Boder

In short, how old are you?

Raisel Meltzak

Thirteen.

David Boder

You are thirteen years old.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

[Words not clear].

Raisel Meltzak

In January.

David Boder

Wait a moment. Where were you when the war broke out?

Raisel Meltzak

In the forest.

David Boder

When the war broke out?

Raisel Meltzak

At home still. In Busk. With the mother and with the father.

David Boder

In which town?

Raisel Meltzak

In Busk.

David Boder

In Busk?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

And how old were you then?

Raisel Meltzak

I do not remember.

David Boder

You do not remember.

Raisel Meltzak

No.

David Boder

You were a little girl.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

Were you seven, eight years old?

Raisel Meltzak

I do not remember.

David Boder

You do not remember.

Raisel Meltzak

[Giggles.]

David Boder

And so. Nu, and when the war broke out, what happened then?

Raisel Meltzak

To us?

David Boder

To you. To your family.

Raisel Meltzak

Aha. [When] the Germans were there my father worked in the Judenrat [Jewish Community Council].

David Boder

In Judenrat?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

Nu.

Raisel Meltzak

He was, well, no rich [?]. He just worked. When the Germans were with us . . .

David Boder

Nu?

Raisel Meltzak

. . . my father, earlier yet, excav- . . . excav- . . . how does one say it?--made such a hole [cave] . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . where I, my mother, my father, and my little brother three years old . . .

David Boder

Yes?

Raisel Meltzak

. . . and we hid there. We sat there not a [full] month.

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

Hid. Hidden. Around two weeks.

David Boder

What was the name of the town? . . . What was the name of the town?

Raisel Meltzak

Busk.

David Boder

Busk?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

Was it near Warsaw? What city was it near?

Raisel Meltzak

It was near Zlochev, Ternopol.

David Boder

Near Ternopol.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

All right, now we know. Nu, when did the father make . . . the father made a hole in which to hide?

Raisel Meltzak

I do not remember any more?

David Boder

You do not remember.

Raisel Meltzak

No.

David Boder

Nu, did you hide . . .

Raisel Meltzak

I tell only what I know.

David Boder

Yes. Good. You hid in a hole.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

Why did you have to hide?

Raisel Meltzak

Because the Germans wanted to kill us.

David Boder

Aha. Nu, what happened then?

Raisel Meltzak

There we . . . we lay. It was a--Can I tell where the hole was?

David Boder

Yes, naturally.

Raisel Meltzak

There it was . . . It was such a hole, there where horses stood.

David Boder

Yes?

Raisel Meltzak

Such a stable.

David Boder

Yes?

Raisel Meltzak

And under the stable we had that hole . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . where we sat. There on top was an attic.

David Boder

Hm.

Raisel Meltzak

And in the attic the Germans were walking. My brother--he was not even three years old then--began to cry. My mother gave him to . . . to drink. He refused. He cried so we thought that the Germans would kill us. But they did not hear [him]. We had enough money. My father was a horse trader.

David Boder

Aha.

Raisel Meltzak

We . . . we were not poor. A gentile woman brought us food. Not much, because we had been robbed, too [possibly she means cheated], but . . .

David Boder

You had been robbed?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, yes.

David Boder

What was taken from you?

Raisel Meltzak

Things were taken from us, gold, such things.

David Boder

Nu?

Raisel Meltzak

And afterwards my father . . .

David Boder

Who took it?

Raisel Meltzak

Gentiles. The Ukrainians. I lived in the Ukraine.

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

There the gentiles robbed us, at night. Any my father paid the gentiles to bring us food. And she . . . she brought us a little soup, such a cold one.

David Boder

Hm.

Raisel Meltzak

It was not good. Well, it is better than nothing. Then we . . . the gentile woman said that the Germans were coming with dogs, and she must . . . The Germans had such dogs which only had to sniff to know where we are, where there is a Jew. And we ran away in the morning. In the morning, it was such . . .

David Boder

Who ran away? You ran away?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes. All of us.

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes. I, the mother, the father, [in a barely audible whisper] the little brother.

David Boder

Hm.

Raisel Meltzak

And the gentile woman . . . We were in a grove. We got so scared. There were many Jews lying unbur- . . . not yet buried, but they just lay about.

David Boder

Dead people?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, dead people.

David Boder

Did you yourself see that?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, I saw that.

David Boder

Go on.

Raisel Meltzak

And we got away. It was so muddy it came up to . . . it was very . . . it was going on winter. It was going on winter. And . . . and we still had enough money, but the Ukrainians looted us. They took everything away from us. We remained in just one . . . one shirt.

David Boder

What do you mean, 'in one shirt'?

Raisel Meltzak

In one shirt. We only had that what we had on us. [That] they did not take away but that which we carried.

David Boder

But you wore more than a shirt. You wore a dress, a coat.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes. A coat they took off, too.

David Boder

The coat.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes. We had left only one dress, two dresses, just what we wore. This was not taken away. But a coat they took off. And we went on. Afterwards we sat in the forest. Eh . . . and they took everything away from us, theâwhat is it in Yiddish?âthe pastuchy [Polish for shepards].

David Boder

Yes. Shepards.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

Go on.

Raisel Meltzak

They took everything away from us. And . . . all right. I was . . . It was raining. We were all sitting. We made a shack out of sticks and out of hay and other such things.

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

And we were sitting there. Afterwards two other Jews arrived, a girl [a young woman?] and a boy [a young man?] from Busk, from our home town.

David Boder

Hm.

Raisel Meltzak

And they said . . . They dragged away my father, and he went. [They possibly belonged to the Jewish police.]

David Boder

Wasn't your father with you?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, he was with us, but then they came, and, the girl and the boy, and dragged him away. He did not want to go, but they dragged him away.

David Boder

How could the girl and the boy drag him away?

Raisel Meltzak

They began . . . they took him aside and persuaded my father . . . why should he remain here? . . . [apparently imitating the conversation] that so he will be killed, and so he will be killed . . . [The so and so seem not to mean here either way, but an ennumeration of possibilities].

David Boder

Oh.

Raisel Meltzak

But . . .

David Boder

Oh, they persuaded him to go.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, yes, that he should go to a lager.

David Boder

And who remained?

Raisel Meltzak

I with the mother and [barely audible whisper] the little brother.

David Boder

In the forest.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, we remained in the forest. Afterwards weâshall I tell . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . everything about the whole life?

David Boder

Yes, yes.

Raisel Meltzak

Afterwards we . . . eh . . . we remained alone. The father said, 'Shh' . . . My mother's name was was Rachel . . . 'Rachel, if you want to come, you and Raisel' . . . My Jewish name is Raisel.

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

'If you [singular] want to go' . . . if you [plural] want to go with me, you must take the little brother and set him under a tree, or else you must throw him into . . . whichever . . . whichever you want, as long as you do not take him along' [Little children, liable to cry unexpectedly, were one of the paramount handicaps in flight. âD.P.B.]

David Boder

The baby?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, yes. That's what he told me. It is all true. [Words not clear] very, very . . .

David Boder

Well, yes. I understood. Why did he want . . .

Raisel Meltzak

I do not know. I was still little. I did not understand at all.

David Boder

Wait a moment. [Adjusting equipment.] And so, what happened? Go on.

Raisel Meltzak

Eh . . . eh . . . Go on, yes?

Raisel Meltzak

yes

Raisel Meltzak

And afterwards my brother . . . All right. My mother said, 'No! I will not leave the brother behind. And what will . . . The children . . . Whatever will happen to me will happen to the children. Whatever will happen to the children will happen to me.' And the father . . . the father said, 'Yes. If you want it so, remain. Remain. I am going.' And my father was eating a piece of bread, and he leaned over. He started so . . . he threw away the bread he was eating. He could not eat . . . eat any more, and started to cry, just like a little child. Ah, he went away. And he went away. He did not want to remain with us. Afterwards we went . . . The Ukranians, the police, caught us and started to beat him . . .

David Boder

Whom?

Raisel Meltzak

Us. Me and the mother. They began to beat and kick the mother. She did not . . . she cried so. She did not . . . she did not know what was happening to her. She fell down, my mother. They began to kick and beat me. I was thr- . . . thrown into a . . . into such a . . . such a ditch [word in Polish dialect].

David Boder

Into what? Into a ditch?

Raisel Meltzak

I was thrown into a ditch [word in Polish].

David Boder

Into a what?

Raisel Meltzak

Into a ditch.

David Boder

What does it mean?

Raisel Meltzak

Such aâhow is it in Yiddish?

David Boder

Say it in Polish.

Raisel Meltzak

[In Polish] Into . . . into such a hole.

David Boder

Yes. Go on.

Raisel Meltzak

And there . . . [in Yiddish] and there I was thrown in. They began to beat me with a horse whip. Afterwards my mother got up and pulled me out. The brother, she left him standing on the street, and me she . . . I got out. And then I cried so. The mother asked me why. I was still a small child, so I did not know. 'Why is he doing this to me? Why? Did I deserve it, or what?' I surely did not deserve it. I did not know. And the brother cried so. And afterwards we . . . All right. We ran away. We left everything and ran away. [As if to herself] And after that, what happened? Aha. And the father went away. The father said that, and he left. It was all the same already to him. After that, what else? [A very friendly, confident giggle.] I have already forgotten . . .

David Boder

Of course.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . quite a bit. Such a long time. Aha. After that we went away. We went to Antolowka. Antolowka.

David Boder

What is that?

Raisel Meltzak

There were such . . . Germans . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . such folk- . . . folk-Germans.

David Boder

A small town.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes. Folk- . . . folk-Germans . . .

David Boder

Hm.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . were there. They spoke German. I was there. They were very kind, very kind. They gave us food. They brought us food to the forest. I was [there] with the mother. Afterwards one . . . I have forgotten already. What is it in Polish? Do you understand Polish?

David Boder

What is it?

Raisel Meltzak

[In Polish] A policeman.

David Boder

A policeman. Nu?

Raisel Meltzak

[In Yiddish] The police caught us there in the forest. We were asked where we are from and what we are doing here and what business we have there. So we said, 'We are Jews.' We answered simply, 'We are Jews, and we have nobody.' The mother talked to them [words not clear]. I was sitting like a fool. I did not know what to say. And he said, 'Come.' Is it like this? So we went. The mother pleaded so, she cried, to let us go. We gave him something, so he let us go.

David Boder

You gave him something?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, the mother gave him something, so he let us go. After that we went to Huta . . . Huta . . . [Khust?] Olejska.

David Boder

Hm.

Raisel Meltzak

It is a Polish [in Polish] villageâhow does one say it?

David Boder

A Polish village?

Raisel Meltzak

A Polish village, yes. We were there. The gentiles were also very kind. We were there. We slept in barns.

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

We slept here a day, here a day, here a night. Thus we slept. My mother . . . I helped a little. The mother helped a little. We worked in the garden. We did all that . . . I had aâ[In Polish] how does one say cow?

David Boder

A cow?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, a cow.

David Boder

Nu?

Raisel Meltzak

We had . . . I tended [the cow] all day until night. Afterwards we left for Huta Olejska.

David Boder

And the little brother was with you.

Raisel Meltzak

Yes. After that, when we were in Huta Olejska . . .

David Boder

Yes?

Raisel Meltzak

. . . we went back there [where] we had been, with the Germans. I have already forgotten what the name of it is. There my brother died.

David Boder

What did he die from?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, yes, he died. My brother had such a stomach . . .

David Boder

Oh.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . such a large [stomach]--I do not know how it is [said] in Yiddish.

David Boder

All right. Nu?

Raisel Meltzak

And he died. We . . . my mother . . . He told my mother that his stomach hurts him, everything hurts him, and he cannot walk. And my mother set him down, and I with the mother went for bottles. My mother went to pick . . . There were bottles there with which I could go to the gentiles . . .

David Boder

Hm.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . and bring water . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . or a little milk.

David Boder

Yes. Nu?

Raisel Meltzak

And . . . and . . . and my brother had already died when we came from . . . and my mother had gone there. I said, 'You will go and pick' . . . from there I used to bring a little milk . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Raisel Meltzak

. . . or water. There I would leave the bottles. I always used to say, 'I am . . . I feel . . . I do not need any more.' I said this to the mother, because we were not supposed to be here in the forest, because the gentiles had said that we should not come, that today the police are around. And we did not go. And my mother took the bottles and went to the village[?]. And when I came [returned] the brother was already dead.

David Boder

Nu?

Raisel Meltzak

The brother was already dead. And my mother cried so much. In the forest there are manyâhow does one say it?â[in Polish] trees?

David Boder

Trees.

Raisel Meltzak

Trees. So she began to do it so, with her head [she apparently demonstrates]. She had such bumps.

David Boder

She beat herself . . .

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

. . . against the trees?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes. And she cried so very much. She screamed. She could not bear it. After my brother died we . . . we buried him.

David Boder

Who buried him?

Raisel Meltzak

I with the mother.

David Boder

You with the mother?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, I with the mother.

David Boder

In the forest?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, in the forest. Nothing, just dug such a tiny grave. He was only three years old. He was very small. And afterwards I remained with the mother. The mother cried very much. [short break in the wire] . . . very much. My mother was badly emaciated [?]. My mother did not get better, because my mother cried very much. She was so thin as this, as a stick. And afterwards I went with my mother another month, [or] two. I was with the mother another two months. And my mother died.

David Boder

Where?

Raisel Meltzak

My mother died.

David Boder

In the forest?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes, in the forest. Everything in the forest, because I was in the forest three years [words not clear].

David Boder

Aha.

Raisel Meltzak

Two and a half [years], not three.

David Boder

[In whispers] You must go?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.

David Boder

We shall talk again later, yes?

Raisel Meltzak

Yes.