David P. Boder Interviews Maximillian Lipschitz; August 4, 1946; Paris, France

  • David Boder: [In English] Chicago, June the 26th, 1950, project MH156. This is reproduction Spool 9-21A, Dr. Maximilian Lipschitz. It is the first half of Spool 21.
  • David Boder: August the 4th, Rue de Patin [checks recorder] . . . August the 4th, Rue, 9 Rue de Patin, in a home for adult deportees. Paris, August 4th, 1946, at Rue Patin, number 9, in a home for adult Jews. We are going to interview Dr. Maximilian Lipschitz, eh, age thirty-five. This is Spool 21.
  • David Boder: [In German] Eh, so tell me again, tell us, what is your full name?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Dr. Maximilian Lipschitz.
  • David Boder: And, eh, where were you born, Dr. Lipschitz?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: In Neuschonstau.
  • David Boder: Where is that?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: That is in Czechoslovakia.
  • David Boder: Yes. Eh, and, eh, where, and where did you study?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: I studied in Prague.
  • David Boder: And, eh, you received your doctorate in what subject?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: In science, and mainly chemistry.
  • David Boder: In science, and mainly chemistry. [pause]
  • David Boder: So, please speak a little louder, do you want to tell us, where were you when the war began, and what happened then?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: When the war began I was in Cracow because I had my family there, my child that was six weeks old, and my sister.
  • David Boder: And your wife?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: My wife had died before the war. I had my family there, and for a while lived relatively, eh, undisturbed, until the larger repressions began. It began in December of 1939 with several registrations, and, eh, and then, in December, with the, eh, with the, with the rule to wear a band with the star on the right arm. Then came the various Verbote, to ride the train, the Verbote—the . . .
  • David Boder: With what train, outside of the city or within the city?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Ride with the, with the, eh, national railroad, with the railroad.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Then came, eh, the bans, to have independent businesses, to be in official, eh, civil servant positions, so that the Jews became more and more oppressed in their, eh, housing and in their living. For a while, Jews were still allowed to live in larger cities, then it became more oppressed, and by 1941 most Jews were mostly crowded into ghettos in most Polish cities.
  • David Boder: Yes, so, tell us only about your city, and where you were, and what happened there. So you were in Cracow?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: I was in Cracow, in 1942 we were, all Jews who had lived in Cracow and the vicinity of Cracow, were mostly crowded, eh, crowded together in the Cracow ghetto.
  • David Boder: Yes, eh, now describe the ghetto a little, and how was the ghetto made and so on?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: The ghetto was established in Podgórze, eh, a suburb of Cracow, there on a very small, in a very small area approximately 15,000 Jews who had been left in the city were pressed together in very tight living conditions.
  • David Boder: Had Jews lived there before?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: There were Jews who had lived there before, but the apartments were vacated by [the people who had lived there] before and emptied for the guests . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: . . . and the Jews were squeezed together in very tight living quarters, so that three to four people lived in one room.
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: And more. I, for instance, lived in a pretty large room, and there we were 12 people.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: However, there lived, there lived three children . . .
  • David Boder: All men?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: No, families, strangers, and so on.
  • David Boder: Men and women among them?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Men and women and children in one . . .
  • David Boder: In one room . . .
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: . . . in one room.
  • David Boder: Yes. Now, what did one live on?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: You could only live from the work that the Germans offered, that was mainly, eh, in factories, as workers, mainly in military factories, ammunition factories, in military workshops, and . . .
  • David Boder: And did they pay for the work?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: They paid for the work, but so little that one could hardly make ends meet, and mainly people could only live by selling items they still had, bed linens or pots, living off the sale of those goods.
  • David Boder: Who did one sell that to?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: That was sold to Poles.
  • David Boder: That was sold to Poles.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Eh, was there a special currency, was there ghetto money there?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: In Cracow there was no special money.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: That was in Lodz, that was . . .
  • David Boder: In Lodz there was ghetto money . . .
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Yes, that was Lodz, yes.
  • David Boder: Now, so you lived with twelve people in one room. Who was with you of your relatives?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: I was with my sister and brother-in-law, my child, two of my sister's children . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Then there was also, eh, a cousin of mine with wife and child . . .
  • David Boder: Yes, and?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: An uncle and an aunt . . .
  • David Boder: Yes. And were there also strangers . . . ?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: And there were strangers with their families, unknown, unknown people also there.
  • David Boder: So, how did you sleep?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: One, eh, there were either beds there, and if there was not enough space we were, eh, we had to sleep on the floor.
  • David Boder: Now, go on.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: I worked in a factory, in a foundry, had to, because I was away, that, eh, was far outside of the city, I worked in a Zinc foundry [unintelligible], and earned about eighty to ninety zloty per week, that was hardly enough to buy bread for two, for two to three days.
  • David Boder: So, go on. Yes?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: In these bad times we held out until May of 1942. In May of 1942 the first incidents happened that we had not expected at all. Those were the evacuations.
  • David Boder: Now, describe in detail the procedure of the evacuations there. Hm?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: There were, the ghetto was cordoned off, all around was SS Waffen who let no one in or out of the ghetto. All people were registered, and those who had a certificate that they worked in a military factory, got a certificate that they could stay, all others were rounded up in a square, and were deported.
  • David Boder: Did you get the certification?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: I obtained the certification back then because I was working in the foundry.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: But there were many people who also worked for Germans, in workshops, and who came through the different, eh, commotions to the collection square, and were taken away, too. Until . . .
  • David Boder: So, now comes your family, eh, did your family stay together with you?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: I managed back then to get the certification for my sister and for, for my child, for the sister of the children [he means "for the children of the sister"]—that was the first time, otherwise the family members of the workers were considered, and, eh, they were left there.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Back then approximately . . .
  • David Boder: Where were the people led to?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: . . . 5,000 to 10,000 thousand people were taken away . . .
  • David Boder: Yes. To where?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: According to our later investigations we were told that they were brought to Belzec where there was an annihilation facility. We in the ghetto did not know about the fate of these people for approximately three or four months. And, eh, still one and two years later some rumours circulated that were probably started by the Germans, that those people were brought to the [unintelligible] and worked in a camp there, but that was not true. Because we learned later, two, three, four years later, that the people, all as they were, were led to the annihilation facilities, and were burnt or gassed there.
  • David Boder: Yes, what did the—you say, burnt, did one not only, eh, burn the dead?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Yes, that, eh—I have, later in the camp and also after the liberation, I met people who had worked in these camps themselves. The scenes that were told to me were not even—are not to be rendered, [it is] hardly imaginable that a human brain could think—think up such plans.
  • David Boder: So?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: In parts, people were packed into a tight room, the people were already half dead from the [endurance of the] transport, they were crowded together, and the gas, the gas containers were opened. When there were not enough gas containers, the people were barely suffocated but only half dead, and, as they were, they were brought to the fire room, and burnt there.
  • David Boder: What do you call a fire room?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Well—crematorium.
  • David Boder: Yes. Now, let us come back, you stayed in Cracow back then?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: I stayed back in Cracow. After this, after the first evacuation in May the ghetto was downsized, because there were fewer Jews. The conditions worsened. Then, in October of 1942, came the second evacuation. There, family members were not considered anymore. At that time, I lost most of my family. Just by happenstance I was able to save my sister and the children . . .
  • David Boder: Whom from your family did you lose?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Back then, that is, with the first evacuation, I lost [an] uncle, an aunt, a cousin, a young person with his wife and a fourteen-year-old girl. All blossoming human beings who could have lived a long life.
  • David Boder: Yes, well?
  • Maximillian Lipschitz: Of course, I was not the only one, there were, when you walked through the town, through the streets of the ghetto after the evacuation, you would only hear the weeping and . . . [pause]
  • David Boder: [In English] This interview was discontinued because Dr. Lipschitz had to go on an important appointment of which he either had forgotten or didn't know before. We are now introducing another interview, at, eh, about the, eh, fourteenth minute of the spool.
  • David Boder: Chicago, June 26th, 1950. This concludes the section of Dr. Lipschitz. We have separated this from Spool 21, that has now the interview with Mr. Lea, and this will be Spool 9-21A, while the interview with Mr. Lea will be Spool 9-21B. Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording, project MH156. That's all.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : Stefan Meuser
  • English Translation : Stefan Meuser