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



Short interviews with orphan charges at the Bellevue home for displaced Jewish orphans funded by French and American Jewish charities (run by Lena Kuechler, another Boder interviewee) grant us something like a child's eye view of the Holocaust.

The interview with thirteen-year-old Raisel Meltzak is understandably fragmentary. Boder disagreed with the judgment of supervisory personnel at the home that she was somewhat mentally retarded, believing rather that she was deeply disturbed. He cut the interview short, possibly to save her from further stress, and did not take it up again. Her parents, natives of southeastern Poland, an area of mixed Polish and Ukrainian population, hid their family from the Germans in a bunker, and then in the forests, alternately helped and looted by the local Ukrainians. Her father allowed himself to be persuaded by Jews from his own community that it was safest to return to the ghetto, whereas her mother insisted on chancing fugitive survival for herself and her two children. Raisel was spared having to go into the details of her mother's death. Judging from the fact that the child spoke better Polish than Yiddish, she may have come through the Holocaust by being taken in by Polish peasants.

From FRESH WOUNDS: EARLY NARRATIVES OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVAL by Donald L. Niewyk. Copyright (c) 1998 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu