David P. Boder Interviews Pinkhus Rosenfeld; September 13, 1946; Hénonville, France

  • David Boder: [In English] This is Spool 9-130B, Mr. Pinkhus Rosenfeld, interviewed at Hénonville, France—Hénonville near Paris. November 7th, 1950, Boder.
  • David Boder: Paris, September 13, 1946. Hénonville, a suburb of Paris, in a home of Jewish displaced people. The interviewee is Mr. Pinkhus Rosenfeld who lives himself in Paris but has children here in the . . . in the Kibbutz.
  • David Boder: [In German] And so, Mr. Rosenfeld, tell me your full name and where you were born.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Pinkhus Rosenfeld, born in Lodz.
  • David Boder: How old are you, Mr. Rosenfeld?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: On the second [day] of the first [month, January], 1903.
  • David Boder: Then you are now forty-three years old, isn't that so?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: And so tell me, you are living in Paris now?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I have been living in Paris now for three weeks.
  • David Boder: Aha, and what are you doing there?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: What . . . I am looking for possibilities of going to Palestine where I have my own home . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . and also a house that my father has there.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And, alas, I cannot go there. I am [words not clear]. I am navanat . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . all the time.
  • David Boder: And . . . and what beziehung [connection] do you have here with this kibbutz in Hénonville?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: What does beziehung mean?
  • David Boder: I mean, I see you here, you are here.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I have here two children who were also with me all the time.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I am not able to maintain them in Paris. I cannot afford to live in Paris, so that . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . I have placed them in the kibbutz, and they have a very happy life.
  • David Boder: And your wife is where?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: My wife, alas, perished in Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Hm. So who looks after the children here?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: They themselves.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Themselves. They are . . .
  • David Boder: How old are they?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . grown up children.
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nineteen and twenty-one years.
  • David Boder: What are they, boys, girls?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Two boys. Two . . .
  • David Boder: Two . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I had girls. They perished in the Warsaw Ghetto.
  • David Boder: In the Warsaw Ghetto.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes. [Words not clear.]
  • David Boder: And so, Mr. Rosenfeld, will you please tell me where you were when the war started and the main events that happened to you? Take your time. You can talk as much as you want. Go on.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: [When] the war started, I was in Lodz.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And then it happened. On the night of the 5th and 6th of September . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . we were running.
  • David Boder: Why were people running?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Because we had heard that the German is arriving, and the fear immediately brought great panic [?] so that at once we were running. We did not know where, what, or when. We did not take under consideration that the German army with its mechanization, with all its technique, that it will run faster than we, but the fear moved us to run. Thus, we are running until today. It is already seven years. Today is exactly seven years since the war started, and we are still running.
  • David Boder: And so, Mr. Rosenfeld, give it to me one thing at a time, in details. Where did you go from Lodz? What was your occupation in Lodz?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In Lodz I was a textile manufacturer. We had our own factory in Zdunska Wola.
  • David Boder: Aha. Tell me . . . [you had] a textile business. Did you know the Sigmunds [mispronounced Sigman] in Lodz, from Chicago? They had a big textile factory. [Pause.] Sigmund [Sigman].
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Sigmund in the texti- . . . no.
  • David Boder: No, and so, nu, you had what sort of business, a factory?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We had a factory.
  • David Boder: Who is the we?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Rosenfeld and Patovski was [the name of] the firm.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And we had the factory . . .
  • David Boder: Is it not the Patovski of whom one is in New York?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I would not know.
  • David Boder: You would not know. And so, go on. [Pause.] Now, where did you run? What did you take along?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We took along a little money in the pocket. The rest we left, everything unguarded, and we ran. Finally we saw on the road that the Germans have come ahead of us.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And we began to reflect that our running was totally useless, so we turned around and we came back to Lodz.
  • David Boder: Back to Lodz?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Back to Lodz.
  • David Boder: Yes, nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nu, naturally in Lodz we were already met at certain points by the Germans, and the local folk-Germans [Poles who claimed German ancestry] . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . the so-called Poles, and we were at once cleaned up. They took away everything we had, the little money. Now we were already completely without anything.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Afterwards happened the story that Lodz was incorporated by the German into the Reich.
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And there began to happen all the calamaties, with dragging for labor and with going to work, and the summons to the Gestapo, so that my father, as an elderly man, decided that he will leave Lodz. Where should he go? There is no where or what or when, but still, seeing that Warsaw was [made a] protectorate at that time, there began an exodus [to Warsaw]. It was assumed that being a protectorate, it will have some sort of independence, there he will have, so to speak, some kind of a chance.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: There it will be possible to save ourselves. So that by father and my mother and a brother . . . and I also sent along my two children there, and we journeyed to Warsaw. I myself had also gone a couple of weeks before to Warsaw. Upon so, seeing that in Warsaw there is no chance of living, the money is coming to an end, and in Lodz we still had buried a little Polish money, we went back to Lodz to save . . .
  • David Boder: The whole family?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No, I and the mother.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In order to take out the money and get back to Warsaw.
  • David Boder: What sort of money was it, gold, silver, paper money, Polish money?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We had all sorts of currency . . .
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . buried for the time in the Ghetto.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And so, returning, we came back before Pesach, the first Pesach that the German was in Lodz, and we have . . .
  • David Boder: Was there already a ghetto?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes, there was already established a ghetto, already with all the trappings.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And on the thirtieth [day] of the fourth [month] the ghetto was to be closed, and we tried about five days before Pesach to get out.
  • David Boder: From the ghetto.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: From the ghetto. People were then still smuggling across the Beth Hechaim at night.
  • David Boder: Beth Hechaim is the cemetery?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And we did not succeed. We were shot after a few times. We did not succeed. I had sent before yet to Warsaw my two girls. The two boys had remained in Lodz.
  • David Boder: And your wife?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: My wife had also remained.
  • David Boder: In Warsaw?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In Lo- . . . in Lodz.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: She did not go along then. And my mother had also returned with me to Warsaw. During this time the situation in Warsaw became very bad. I am telling it very briefly, as the saying goes, if not . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . it would not suffice to write up a whole room of papers. If one would sit for years it would not suffice, but I am making [it] very brief.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: During that time my father had passed away in Warsaw.
  • David Boder: Just by himself [from natural causes]?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Just by himself. He got sick. His blood was sick.
  • David Boder: Hm. Was he an old man?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: He was sixty-two years old.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In general, since he had possessions in Eretz Yisroeil [Land of Israel] and having decided that any day . . . if the war had broken out four weeks later . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . he would have already been in Eretz Yisroeil, and now having seen that he had no chance for it, he cannot get over, this brought him his sickness. His blood became bad, and he died.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The rest of my family later took pains, through various tricks, having given away the last . . . they brought the mother out to Warsaw. And during the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto I lost all my family, my mother, my two children.
  • David Boder: Which ghetto, the Warsaw Ghetto?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The Warsaw Ghetto, yes.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Whether they perished in the ghetto or they were sent to Majdanek, Treblinka I do not know. I know only one thing, that they are no more.
  • David Boder: Who, your mother?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: My mother, my two chil- . . . children, my two brothers, a sister-in-law of mine with two children, and my sister with two children.
  • David Boder: Where were the other two children . . . of yours? You had four children.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Two were in Warsaw. Two I had send. They had come along right with me.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And after, when I was supposed to have come to save ourselves from the last catastrophe in Warsaw . . .
  • David Boder: Yes, so you have . . . yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . I left the two girls there.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And with the two boys whom I had not taken there yet, we remained until [words not clear].
  • David Boder: Oh, the two boys were in Lodz and have remained . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Have remained in Lodz.
  • David Boder: Aha. Nu, and so?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And so in Lodz we got then into the ghetto.
  • David Boder: Where did you live in Lodz before? Was your house where the ghetto was later made, or not?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No, it was not inside the ghetto. Where I had lived was Polodniowa 25, and the father had lived on Ceglana number 14.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Then we were quartered in the ghetto, not quartered, but we heard . . . the German thought that the Jews were moving somehow too slowly. He wanted that it should go with more tempo, and they simply attacked the streets and the houses and shot out everybody in the neighboring [non-ghetto] streets. Then we did not wait any more for the plan . . . we did not wait for the plan any more which was supposed to be that we go according to a plan, everyday should go a certain street. But afterwards we just ran by ourselves into the ghetto.
  • David Boder: And where did you live there?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In the ghetto we were pushed into . . . we were twenty-odd people in a room which was about, let us say, four meters by four meters.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nu, in the ghetto later, as it is already known from the descriptions of the ghetto, was created some sort of self-government with [its] own currency with some sort of self-sufficiency, that we were working for the Germans in all the shops and in every trade. And for that the Germans sent in for us the most meager [?], that means the minium, food supplies and certain rations. On that we lived in the ghetto.
  • David Boder: Who was the Elder of the ghetto there?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The Elder of the Jews was Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski.
  • David Boder: Rumkowski.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: He was the Elder of the Jews.
  • David Boder: What had he been before? What sort of a man was he? What was his status before in Lodz? Did people know him there?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In Lodz he was known. The man was a Jewish community worker.
  • David Boder: A what?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: A community worker.
  • David Boder: Worker, yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes. One of the . . . I can say, alas with regret, also a Zionist worker. He took part in the Zionist Congresses. A man who was childless. A man who had done much for orphans. He had founded an orphanage together with the greatest citizens. He got together money and erected . . .
  • David Boder: Before [the advent of the Germans]?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Before, naturally.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And because he . . . and because he was . . . at the time when the German marched in to Lodz, he was one of the Jewish civic leaders, that means, of the Community Council officials.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And he . . . because of his patriarchal appearance he [the Germans] made him remain. The rest, all the civic leaders, he sent away to Dachau where they perished. And in this way he took over the complete leadership.
  • David Boder: Who sent away the people to Dachau?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The Germans.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And he alone remained out of the fifty . . . eh . . .
  • David Boder: From the Community Council.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: From the Community Council . . .
  • David Boder: He alone [?]?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . he remained.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes Spool 130 with Mr. Pinkhus Rosenfeld reporting, and we are going over to Spool 131. Hénonville, fifty kilometers from Paris, in a home of displaced Jews which is occupied by a Kibbutz and a migrating, so to speak, Yeshiva from Lithuania. September 13, 1946. Hénonville. Illinois Institute of Technology recording.
  • David Boder: France, September the 13th, 1946. At Hénonville, fifty kilometers from Paris. In a chateau, Hénonville, which is occupied by displaced people. An organization of Orthodox Jews, Hassidim [a sect], a Kibbutz, and a Yeshiva. The interviewee is Mr. Pinkhus Rosenfeld, from Lodz. We have started the [recording] . . . on Spool 130 at twenty minutes and we are continuing now.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] And so, Mr. Rosenfeld, where were we? You were relating about Lodz. And so you had returned and . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And I remained in the Lodz ghetto.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Now, is not the place to relate all the experiences that we have lived through.
  • David Boder: But do take some typical incidents which had happened to you and your family, not in general. [Pause.] Did you build a bunker? [Here reference is made not to air-raid shelters, but to hide-outs against raids for deportation.]
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No.
  • David Boder: Why not?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Because as a rule it did not happen that people in the ghetto built bunkers. Perhaps in the last moments when the time was already very short. Our street they started to take among the first, so that we were not able to do it.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu, and so what happened then? You say that people began working for the Germans. What did you do?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I was accidently, the head of a point for provision supply which served a certain area . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . with . . . with provisions which were rationed, which were issued every two weeks.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: It is altogether [?] unbelievable that when the rations were issued for two weeks it included a ration which consisted of three dekas of turnips for two weeks.
  • David Boder: Three what?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Three dekas . . . thirty grams of turnips.
  • David Boder: Turnips.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Turnips.
  • David Boder: Thirty grams of turnips for two weeks.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: For two weeks. I won't . . .
  • David Boder: And what else? How much bread?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Bread was given, two kilos for eight days.
  • David Boder: Two kilos. Nu.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That was it. There was another little, what else . . .
  • David Boder: Butter?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nothing whatsoever. No fats were given.
  • David Boder: Hm. Go on. And you were working where the rations were issued.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I was working where the rations were issued.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: So that I must say [admit] that this [stroke of] luck brought me [the chance] that I had somehow a little . . . that I could eat something watching at night in the store somehow . . . that it was possible to eat something.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That gave me the possibilities to live through.
  • David Boder: Yes? [Pause.] Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And so thus we went on suffering. Four years we were in the ghetto, no clothing, no heating, and wearing wooden shoes. We were [there] until the end of August. The children were working very hard.
  • David Boder: How old were the children?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The children were then about . . . when they got in the ghetto one was thirteen and one was in the fifteenth year.
  • David Boder: Aha. And such [children] the Germans already considered as workers?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Such . . . and how . . . such the Germans considered workers already. To the contrary this was fortunate. In the beginning there was the slogan [the belief]. Seeing that whoever will work will not be deported, and we already knew the odor of the deportation, so that even eight year old children were sent [by the parents?] to work.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I can say that my children who weighed as much as about sixty kilos when they came in the ghetto . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Later when they were four years older—these are the best years in which a child must have the most nourishment and to gain most strength --they still lost fifteen kilos each.
  • David Boder: When, in the ghetto?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In the ghetto.
  • David Boder: Aha, nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Still as youngsters. Before the war I weighed 96 kilos, and then, in the last days of the ghetto, I weighed 62 kilos. We had virtually become skeletons.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: [Pause.] Nu, is there anything else you would like to ask me about ghetto life?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: For instance?
  • David Boder: And so, I would like to know . . . And what did you do during the entire four years? Did you work in the administration during the entire four years?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In the administration of the . . . of the supply point.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I worked there.
  • David Boder: Did that help you so that you were not sent away from Lodz?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That helped me so that I was not sent away.
  • David Boder: And you were left to remain with your children.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Nu, and then how was the ghetto gradually reduced? How did it come to the end? Describe to me, let us say, the last six months of the ghetto.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: When the Germans saw that the Russians were approaching and they were not far from Warsaw, Warsaw from Lodz being, so to speak, only about one hundred twenty kilometers, they began step by step to liquidate the ghetto. And so, first of all . . . [pause] . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . were sent out those who had at one time sinned [against the Germans]. What does it mean had sinned? There being no fuel, I am only pointing at an . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . example.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: If one had stolen once a piece of wood from an old fence, or if a cart with potatoes passed on the street and a child of five years ran after it and grabbed a raw potato . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . this constituted already one of the worst crimes, for which they were in the first line, and these were sent away.
  • David Boder: What does it mean? The parents of the child, or what?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The parents together with the whole family were sent away.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Then for the German there were . . .
  • David Boder: Nu, who, for instance, reported it, that a child grabbed a potato?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: For that there were, alas, Jewish police who also had to cling to life . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . who [the police] had also been appointed by the Germans, who [the police] watched over that.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: If,, by chance, he [the Jewish policeman] would let pass such a thing . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . if he would have kept silent about it, he would be—there were at once over them such watchmen --
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . if not, they would all be deported.
  • David Boder: Aha. So who made the list for the deportation?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: At first the police made it.
  • David Boder: The Jewish police.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The Jewish police.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nu, and so, the so-called criminals having been already sent away, they took and sent away single people. That means . . .
  • David Boder: What does it mean, single people?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Such people who had come from the provinces and had already been previously deported. They had already taken away their wives and their children.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: So these single people were sent away.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Because we [?] saw, as far as possible, that whole families should remain.
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Then, when this was already finished, they took people . . . there came out a decree to hand over all the children.
  • David Boder: Yes, tell me about this case, about the children. How did it happen, and what role did Rumkowski play in it?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The Germans said to hand over all the children up to the age of twelve.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: To deliver them to a certain point, and they will be brought to Germany.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: There they will be raised and fed.
  • David Boder: Aha. Children. How small? From six months?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No difference how old it was. From a day to twelve years. All these children had to be reported, and all of them had to be handed over for sending to Germany.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Exceptions were made at that time for the Jewish police and for such so-called elite, those who were then in the service of Rumkowski's kingdom.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: So that one can say that there were sent away . . . eighteen thousand children [this number varies in different interviews] were sent away. This took place in the space of time from the 5th of September to the 12th of September, 1942 [?], and two thousand children . . .
  • David Boder: From September the what? The 1st?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: From the 5th of September until . . .
  • David Boder: From the 5th until the 12th.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . the 12th.
  • David Boder: One week.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: One week.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The police went around grabbing, and the entire ghetto was locked up, and a blockade was installed.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And nobody could go out, but they went around simply from house to house and all the children were taken out.
  • David Boder: And where were they assembled?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: They were assembled on certain assembly points.
  • David Boder: Did you see it?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes, indeed.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Not only I, but thousands of people saw it, and then they were sent away.
  • David Boder: How, in railroad cars?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: On trucks they were sent away.
  • David Boder: In automobiles.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We saw no trains, but saw them being sent away on trucks.
  • David Boder: Now, where were they sent to?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nu, there where all the Jews were sent.
  • David Boder: No, no, no. [Words not clear.] This we have to have very clearly. Where were they sent to? Did people know . . . did anyone find out? Were they sent to Auschwitz? Were they sent to Majdanek? Where were they sent to?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: All the time we did not know where they were sent.
  • David Boder: And so let us try to give the German, so to speak, every consideration.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Let us say this. When children were taken, it was said they will be sent to [better] nourished?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Did they make out a list? Did they write down their names?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nothing at all. If there were still such optimists, especially among us who were still in the ghetto, who then did not know so much about Auschwitz, Majdanek and Treblinka . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . we did think somehow that the children would perhaps be taken to Germany. It went under the pretext that the parents should be able to work. In order that they not be burdened with raising of children . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . the children were taken away. Although it could have been arranged in the ghetto as well but we . . . we wanted to fool ourselves.
  • David Boder: Aha. Tell me, were there . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In closing, we had no choice.
  • David Boder: . . . any placards, any announcements to bring the children? What . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No. Rumkowski put out placards to come and assemble . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . on the so-called square. It was once called . . . on the Goscinny Dwor [a market square usually surrounded by buildings containing stores].
  • David Boder: Oh. Goscinny Dwor, yes. Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Outside.
  • David Boder: Were the stores around?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And we already could fe- . . . feel that the air is somehow not clean, another edict against the Jews is coming.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And so there Rumkowski came out seemingly with such a broken spirit. How much truth there lay in it we did not know, because we already knew that he has sold out to the Germans . . .
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . because of the career [position] he was seeking. But it is not believable that he did want [covet] so much, that he did not foresee that he will have to serve the Germans with so much. But now he already had to.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And so he issued the order for it to be known that all the children must be handed over.
  • David Boder: Did you hear his speech?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Do you remember anything of it? [This speech was mentioned in other interviews, hence the question.]
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I remember that he gave us to understand that we must save ourselves, and that it is a decree . . .
  • David Boder: Save yourselves.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Save ourselves, and with that, that we will hand over the small children, . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . with that we will be saved.
  • David Boder: Did he use the expression 'Mothers, bring your burned offering'?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: [After a pause, animated by the recollection] Yes.
  • David Boder: You heard that?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: 'Mothers, bring your burned offerings,' yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: 'It is to be hoped that this is the last burned offering [sacrifice].'
  • David Boder: Aha. Yes, because I want to tell you, I have . . . the same that you have told me, was told to me by a boy from Buchenwald.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: You understand?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: And it is important that we get it from various corners of the world, we get the same story.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes, yes, yes, it is correct.
  • David Boder: Nu, go on.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And we were so desperate. It is not understood even by us how the Jewish mother could give away her child. There were cases where the children were taken and they were hidden in ovens, plastered over. And there were such cases about which I know. A friend of mine took a child and gave it narcotics, and he put it in, one might say, in a far corner of the courtyard, because he figured that the police would go through the house in two hours, and he put it in such a hole and on top he strewed a little sand, just so it should not be known. And thus he saved his child. The largest majority could not find counsel to help themselves. There were cases that mothers went with the children. They were taken along.
  • David Boder: The mothers were taken along.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes, such favors the German would do.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: And that was approximately when?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Everything happened from the 5th to the 12th of September.
  • David Boder: In what year, '42?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: '42.
  • David Boder: '42. Nu, what happened after that? [Pause.] Nu, there were saved children. Were they later seen on the street, or what?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Who? The saved children?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: It looked as if, that generally [in fact], the German had not [given?] such [?] an order, but we were gripped by such horror that we thought that we must comply at once. Otherwise he threatened us with immediate death and he would deport the entire ghetto. [Note: Does he imply that the order about the surrender of the children was conceived by the local German authorities without orders from above?]
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: But eventually, when the calamity had passed, we saw that whoever had saved himself had saved himself. But it did not really matter much, because eventually everybody had to pass through Auschwitz and Majdanek, so that he who had saved himself saved himself only for a certain time. However, with the children it resulted at that time that these two thousand [were saved] until we were deported.
  • David Boder: How many were taken, two thousand?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Eighteen thousand were taken.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And [the] two thousand who had remained, these ultimately perished in Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Oh, nu? And so, that . . . now, how long were you in the Lodz Ghetto,- until the liberation?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I was until the 25th [day] of the 8th [month] in the Lodz Ghetto.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu? Until when?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: '44.
  • David Boder: Yes, and where did you go from the Lodz Ghetto?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: From the Lodz Ghetto we were sent away to Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: You, and so, let us now . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Myself, with my wife, with two children, with my two cousins . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . who had come as deportees from Zdunska Wola, and I had taken them in with me.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Charash was their name.
  • David Boder: Charash or Karash?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Charash.
  • David Boder: How is it spelled?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: With a Ch . . . C . . . H. There was another Karash, a little baker in Lodz by the name of Karash. It was not the . . .
  • David Boder: With a K . . . that was another one.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That was another one.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: So then we were together. I, my wife, and my two [sons] makes four, and my two cousins who were living with [us] make six. They were girls, so that the wife and the girls went separately, and I with my two children whom I had succeeded in . . .
  • David Boder: Boys.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Boys, yes, with whom I am living now here in Hénonville.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And we were there twelve days.
  • David Boder: Where, in Auschwitz?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In Auschwitz. What we had gone through in Auschwitz is indescribable
  • David Boder: And so, let us have this. When the train arrived in Auschwitz you were still in the same railroad car with your wife and the . . . the . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: With the wife and with the . . . the . . . with the . . .
  • David Boder: . . . with the relatives and the children.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . with the children.
  • David Boder: Nu, what happened in Auschwitz at the station?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In Auschwitz, the moment we . . . We did not know anything. That whole secret had been so well kept that when we arrived in Auschwitz . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . until we saw already through the window of the cars the barracks from afar and we had conceded to ourselves that we are lost, we were still thinking that we are being sent to work.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The German had persuaded us that now . . . we have to work . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . and seeing that the Russians are approaching . . . and furthermore, he carried out propaganda among us to know that fierce battles will rage and all of us might fall at Lodz.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We should know that . . . and with bombs and with the great aerial danger which is to come, so that it will be very desirable for us to go to Germany to work.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We took along with us everything, the best that can only be, the last that we still possessed of clothing with the couple of shirts, because more we did not possess.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And the moment we came near Auschwitz we saw at once our ruin. We saw already the huge barracks, and we saw already men and women. We saw already the Polish guards [?], and we saw that we were already lost.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The moment we got off in Auschwitz there stood on the spot an SS man, and he at once carried out the selection.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: First of all men separately and women separately, old ones separately and young ones separately, those who appeared sickly separately and those appeared healthier went separately.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: My wife and the . . . and the two girls . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . the cousins, were immediately taken away from me so that I did not see them any more.
  • David Boder: They were not afterwards in the women's quarter? Could one find out in Auschwitz . . . could a husband discover whether his wife is in a block there or not?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No.
  • David Boder: One could not.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: One could not find out.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Possibly in a few counted cases, but [in general] one could not find out.
  • David Boder: So then perhaps they were taken to the women's block?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Perhaps they were taken. I do not know whether they had perished in Auschwitz or were taken to the women's block and later on they went to Stutthoff where people were being taken. I had some sort of regards from [through] one young girl who had been in the same railroad car with us.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: So I figure that she had probably been deported together with my wife and the two cousins. She did come back. Then she told me that there in Stutthoff—that is near Danzig on the Baltic Sea—that the people had been taken there and drowned. From there . . . [?]
  • David Boder: Drowned?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes. Admitting that my wife was perhaps weak and sick . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . it is possible that she had perhaps perished in Auschwitz, but the two cousins that I had sent along, they were two strong, healthy girls.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Seeing that they did not come back, it is highly probable, as much as I looked for information . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . and as much as it was vital for me to find some news, that they perished there in Stutthoff.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Quite simple—they had drowned them there in the sea.
  • David Boder: Hm. What happened to you in Auschwitz?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I was in Auschwitz twelve days.
  • David Boder: Together with the two boys?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Always together with the two boys. I also took pains, with God's, praised be His Name, help, that although we were in separate blocks, we still took pains just to keep together. And we were together. The life in Auschwitz is indescribable. I think that you are sufficiently informed and know already . . .
  • David Boder: Were you tattooed?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No.
  • David Boder: How do you explain that?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We . . . [?]
  • David Boder: In Auschwitz people were tattooed.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: But not all were tattooed.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Those who worked in Birkenau were tattooed and even such who were sent away. Precisely the group with which we went to the vicinity of Chemitz, to a plant of Auto-Union, well, this group was not tattooed.
  • David Boder: Hm. You went together with your two sons.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I went together with my two sons.
  • David Boder: Did it cost you there some efforts to remain together, or did it happen by itself?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: [Pause.] Not especially. It was more luck than trouble, I must tell you.
  • David Boder: Yes. What does luck mean?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That means luck played for me. I was together with the children, and they were already somewhat like grown-ups. We always saw to it . . . In Auschwitz there was such a work-detail.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And there people registered who wanted to go to work.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: So that we had made up that if something will happen, so that if we should have to go away, then we all should register together in order to be together again.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And we succeeded in it, and we arrived . . .
  • David Boder: Oh, they asked who wanted to go to work and you registered yourself.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I had registered myself, and naturally there was a doctor, too. We were all checked, and thus we were all sent to the vicinity of Chemnitz, near [name not clear].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And after that we were in . . . in . . . [pause].
  • David Boder: Nu? It does not matter. In some other place.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In another place. This factory was burned down by the bombing.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And there we worked until the 13th [day] of the 4th [month].
  • David Boder: The 13th of April.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: 1945, yes.
  • David Boder: 1945, nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I have to say that until the 15th [day] of the 2nd [month] the conditions were not so bad yet . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . in comparison with Auschwitz and the ghetto life.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We had comparatively [tolerable] conditions. We got a bread of a kilo and a half for eight persons, and a soup . . .
  • David Boder: Every day?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Every day we got a soup.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Thus, we received no underwear, except for the only shirt which we had received in Auschwitz. That we wore until liberation.
  • David Boder: And that was how long, six months?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That was from the 5th [day] of the 9th [month] . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: until the 13th [day] of the 4th [month]. No . . . the 13th [day] of the 4th [month] we left Auschwitz, but then until the 7th of May we still wore that shirt.
  • David Boder: The same shirt.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Aha. Who come? Who liberated you? In . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Then it happened that the . . . the Americans began approaching and the factory was in danger . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: that means, so as not to be surrounded then it came that we started to march out. We were not able to march very far. This is a separate chapter by itself. Of all the periods that we went through . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: then this chapter of the march from the 13th [day] of the 4th [month] until the liberation on the 7th of May presents something special [unique].
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: This is a separate . . . one must have special journalistic talents . . .
  • David Boder: I do not want journalistic talents . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: to be able to describe it.
  • David Boder: . . . journalistic talents. We want . . . let others be the journalists. I am not a journalist, and you are not a journalist.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Journalist, yes.
  • David Boder: And so, in plain language, tell me what happened there. [Chuckle.] One does not need for that journalistic talents.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Just the facts. I want to tell you, we just want to 'accuse' expose the deeds of the Germans. [It seems that within the context of this interview, as one of many, and considering the time it was taken, no apology should be required even from a scientist, for the last sentence. D.P.B.]
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: And we want the facts. Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And so, the facts were that we marched daily, the least, fifteen kilometers, and thirty kilometers we marched, too. We made a march from Chemnitz to the vicinity of Marienbad, Karlsbad.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We had marched . . .
  • David Boder: That is Czechoslavakia.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We got six potatoes a day.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No [word not clear] potatoes, not always cooked. But if we would stop for a day, they would be boiled there . . . if we would stop for a day. If it would happen that we would march on, or stayed only for twelve hours . . .
  • David Boder: How many people . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . they would not be cooked.
  • David Boder: . . . were marching?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We marched . . . This I want to explain to you. We were in the factory four hundred and fifty people.
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We lived there from the beginning of 9th month ['44] to the 13th [day] of the 4th [month]. The mortality was, I must tell you . . . only eight persons [of our factory group] had died in the entire eight months.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: But when we began . . .
  • David Boder: That is not too many.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No, rather not too many.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: But afterwards when we marched from the 13th [day] of the 4th [month] until the 7th of May hundred and fifty persons had died.
  • David Boder: Yes. How does one know these [exact] numbers? Whether a hundred and fifty, whether a hundred and thirty . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I will explain it to you.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Because there was . . .
  • David Boder: You understand why I am asking?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes, yes, yes. Because there was a scribe there in the office as long as we were there in the factory.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We would enter the day shift and the night shift, and issuing the rations, naturally for everything there had to be entries [in the books]. His name is . . . a certain . . . his name was Szaja Spiegel.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And he is now in Lodz. He kept [preserved?] all the files [card indexes]. We still figured if we should be soon liberated and the families will be, too, then everybody must be informed, 'you should know your mother had died. Your brother had died.' He kept [took care of] the files [card indexes] each day as to how large the mortality was, so that he knows about the mortality up to the last moment.
  • David Boder: Aha. Nu. Good, that is a good answer. Nu, go on. What happened on the road?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: On the road happened just . . . we were just marching, and at night to sleep we were given a barn where we could go in . . . where normally could go in sixty, seventy people. So they would put us in there, all the four hundred and fifty persons.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And during the day we marched again, and through that marching people would drop like flies. Without food, just marching.
  • David Boder: And what would be done with the people who fell?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: The fallen people . . . they took a ditch which had been dug and they were . . . and they were buried.
  • David Boder: That means when they were dead. And when people remained behind from weakness?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: People who remained behind from weakness . . . there were cases that they were shot, too.
  • David Boder: Nu, and [words not clear]?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . who had lagged behind.
  • David Boder: And in other cases?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In other cases [it] would happen that they would tell us to lead [transport?] the people.
  • David Boder: Lead [transport and lead, both translations could be correct].
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And besides, I must . . . there were carts, too. The SS man of our group was not yet the greatest enemy of Israel. So far the weak who had to be taken in carts [?] he somehow . . . he rented us carts. That means he requisitioned carts there and they were transported.
  • David Boder: With horses?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: With horses.
  • David Boder: Hm. So then he was a kind enough SS man.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Naturally one must admit [that] according to what we hear about others, that means to us already . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . a kind one.
  • David Boder: What was he, an officer, or a . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: A corporal.
  • David Boder: A corporal with assistants.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: With assistants, yes.
  • David Boder: Nu, and on the road, while walking or running, did one not talk with the SS men occasionally?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: There were such with whom we did talk, and they would say already 'You should know that you will not suffer too much longer.'
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That means the war is coming to an end already.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Those were the same who were also guarding us in the factory.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And they would explain to us, too . . . [in low voice] there were among them . . . [repeats aloud] there were among them such who were communists, such who were communists, but they were a very small percentage.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu? Then where did you arrive?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We arrived in the vicinity of Marienbad.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: About fifteen kilometers.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And there we already saw that there is no more . . . we are already surrounded from all sides, so while walking . . . somehow we . . . we could feel that the skin is already burning on the SS men, so we sat down and we said we are not going any further. And he said too, 'Well, I am setting you free . . . '
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: ' . . . and go home.'
  • David Boder: What did he say? He said you are free?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: 'You are free.' And they scattered and left us.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And thus we were . . .
  • David Boder: Hm. They did not try to kill the people or . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No. Because they themselves saw already that their blessings [?] are over.
  • David Boder: And they took along their rifles and they scattered.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: They took along their rifles and they scattered.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We remained hefker [abandoned] on the road.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, 'hefker'? [It also means on our own.]
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We went around the villages there and begged. We got there something to eat. There was no . . . we were in Czechoslavakia and the Czechs treated us very decently.
  • David Boder: Oh, it was in Czechoslavakia.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: It was, yes.
  • David Boder: Aha. And so, that was the end.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: And then where did you go when you were liberated? Did you go back to Lodz?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: All, the majority of us went back to Lodz.
  • David Boder: I mean you yourself.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I myself did not go back. Why not?
  • David Boder: And your two sons were with you . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . all the time?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: My sons were together with me all the time.
  • David Boder: So you did not go back.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: No. Why not? Seeing that we knew that we have property in Eretz Yisroeil.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And we did not believe any more . . . we knew that the family is no more. We considered it purposeless. And to go and build in Poland we did not . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . want any more. And we thought that we will be able to enter Eretz Yisroeil. And so, arriving in Prague, both of my children fell sick. They began to have fever.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And they lay in the hospital three months.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: With high fever. And so, with difficulties, I got [rescued] them out. At that time I saw to get in touch with an unofficial Aliyah [a society], that means that I should be able to black myself across [cross the border illegally] and go again on foot to Italy, and from there to get to Israel. I saw it was impossible.
  • David Boder: Oh, with an unofficial Aliyah. Those who go secretly through Italy, yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Through Italy. So we realized that this is not for our strength. For the children neither because they were very run down. They were skin and bones.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And I counted on that, too, seeing that I have a home of my own in . . . in Tel Aviv, and also a house from my father, so that we have had invested in Tel Aviv . . .
  • David Boder: Why did you buy the houses? Was your father in Palestine?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes, and I too. I was there too, yes.
  • David Boder: And you had brought there the houses . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . in Tel Aviv.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: And what, rented out?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Rented out naturally, for rent. In 1936 we invested there ten thousand pounds. So that my children and I figured . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . that we, because we have there our property and will not be a burden to anyone . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . we will sure have the right and will not need to go with the Aliyah B . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . and we will be able to enter Eretz Yisroeil, but at the end we see that . . . we were not able to enter Eretz Yisroeil.
  • David Boder: Who is responsible for the certificates, that you are not getting them? Every month fifteen hundred certificates are available.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: What does it mean who is responsible? With fifteen hundred certificates, the capitalists . . . when the Aliyah stopped . . . only the so-called children were let in. I do not know at all who did go on the fifteen hundred certificates. I only know it is one great cry to heaven that I who have an estate which before the war was worth ten thousand pounds—today in Eretz Yisroeil it is valued at thirty thousand pounds—and [excitedly with tears in his voice] I am sitting here with my children, undernourished, and do not eat meat all week, and not wearing adequate clothing, and not having adequate shoes, and cannot enter Eretz Yisroeil. This is a crime which should awaken the conscience of the world!
  • David Boder: And that which you had hidden in Lodz, did you find it?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I have hidden it, but I am afraid to go to Lodz.
  • David Boder: It is still hidden.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: It is still hidden. We have left a factory, too, in Zdunska Wola, which has been nationalized. I do not even have an interest to go and take it back. Because I am only . . . my only desire is to be able to go to Eretz Yisroeil, and there I will already live through my years.
  • David Boder: Why don't you eat meat all week?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That is very simple, because there is none.
  • David Boder: One has no means?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: One has no financial means. There are none. In the German lager there is still an UNRRA. There still is . . .
  • David Boder: You say that you are getting rent in Palestine. Can't they send the money from there? Pardon me for asking that.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: You have a perfect right and you are completely in order. I must explain to you this, that the English made a law . . .
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: . . . that all those who are there . . . that means, the property of enemy aliens, of people who are not there, all that reverted under the [control of] English government.
  • David Boder: But it is deposited. It is being kept for you.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Everything is being kept there and deposited.
  • David Boder: What sort of enemy alien are you?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I do not know. That is how it was. It seems that Jews are enemies, because all that was . . . in the end it is not just for enemy aliens. Later it was done because all the heirs were not there, because there are huge estates to which there are no claimants, so the government took it all away [over].
  • David Boder: In Palestine?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In Palestine, yes. Up to now I was in Germany in a lager [DP] camp and had no chance whatsoever to communicate. It was very hard. They did not . . . all languages were . . .
  • David Boder: Were you there in the [DP] camp with the children?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I was, yes.
  • David Boder: In which one?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In Landsberg. A whole year.
  • David Boder: Yes. After the liberation.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: After the liberation. Where we were maintained by the UNRRA.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I could not send mail to Eretz Yisroeil. I must mention that this is also an unheard of wrong.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Letters can be sent in English, in French, in Russian, and in Polish, but Yiddish letters cannot be written [sent]. And so I had . . .
  • David Boder: [Words not clear.]
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: To Palestine.
  • David Boder: From the American zone?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: From the American zone. [This seems incorrect. Refers possibly to telegrams.]
  • David Boder: The Americans have no Jewish censors?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That's how it is. And so I am affirming it as a fact.
  • David Boder: Yes? Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: That one cannot write in Yiddish.
  • David Boder: And this is still until today?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: This is still until today. I left . . . until three weks ago one could not write in Yiddish [??].
  • David Boder: From Landsberg.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: From Landsberg. Just these four languages. English, French and German and Polish.
  • David Boder: Polish. Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nu, I began to correspond.
  • David Boder: With Palestine.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: With Palestine. So that I am . . . so that . . .
  • David Boder: Did you enter France legally?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I entered France legally. [Words not clear.]
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: But, unfortunately, I am sorry that I came too late. If I had come earlier I would have been able to enter with the Aliyah B. Today I hear people are going to Cyprus, but I must say that my . . .
  • David Boder: The Aliyah B is the underground Aliyah.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes. The under . . . the so-called illegal Aliyah.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: So that I myself, I cannot decide whether to go to Cyprus. The children do not want to stay here. They say even to Cyprus they want to go. And so, in any case, I want to return to your question.
  • David Boder: Cyprus or no Cyprus, they want to go.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: In any case . . . because to suffer hunger here—it makes no difference to them. Let it be Cyprus as long as it is near Eretz Yisroeil. They think there they will be closer. In any case I want to return to your question. You asked that if having there such an estate which before the war brought in around seven hundred pounds per year, why I should suffer hunger here.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I am explaining to you that it is for the reason that it was frozen, my estate, and that is why I have no means. And I am not let in either, so that I am now in a completely desperate situation.
  • David Boder: And so, you see then that everyone has a different story.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Naturally. Everyone has different troubles, and everyone has a different story.
  • David Boder: And what do you now in Paris? Do you talk with the English? Do you try to do something?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: There are many people arriving from Eretz Yisroeil. I think that if someone will be able . . . I plead that perhaps my account may be opened. I want to do it through a notary, that I am here with two children, that something should be given to me to live on from my estate.
  • David Boder: [Words not clear.]
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And I do not have an answer yet. And then, it is only three weeks since I have come to Paris.
  • David Boder: Hm. And you are staying in Paris and the children are staying here?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: And the children are here.
  • David Boder: What is the name of the Kibbutz here?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Hénonville.
  • David Boder: No, no, no, I mean the Kibbutz.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: What the name is?
  • David Boder: The Kibbutz has a name.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Neizach Yisroeil.
  • David Boder: Hm, the Neizach Yisroeil. And have you always been a Hassid?
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I always have been a Hassid. I come from Hassidic parents, and I remain a Hassidic Jew, and will go on bringing up my children as Hassidic Jewish children.
  • David Boder: And so, Mr. Rosenfeld, I thank you very much. You have given me a very good report, and I am convinced it will do something for us all.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: But I want to ask you again . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: I want to ask you to talk to the Jewish commonwealth [Klal Yisroeil], that they should all see . . . we are tormented here greatly. And we are suffering. We have no housing and we have no food. We have nothing. The situation has not improved much over the German times, but this, especially, I must . . .
  • David Boder: Come, come . . .
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nu, naturally we are not under SS men.
  • David Boder: You do not tremble for your life.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: We do not tremble for our lives, but we do not have the proper nourishment. We are undernourished. You have to know that five, six, seven years we were undernourished. Today we should be fed a little better, and we do not have it. Moreover, I am a man who has such a fortune in Eretz Yisroeil. I am sure I do not have to be a burden to anyone. Why must I have to suffer here?
  • David Boder: Nu, you will pay it back someday [that is, what you receive from charity]. You will give it back. You don't have to worry over it.
  • Pinkhus Rosenfeld: Nu, but in the meantime . . .
  • David Boder: Hm. And so, one has to view things from all sides. Maybe this little story will contribute a bit of truth to the whole situation. And so . . .
  • David Boder: [In English] Hénonville, September the 13th, 1946, near Paris.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • English Translation : David P. Boder