David P. Boder Interviews Raisel Roset; July 30, 1946; Paris, France

  • David Boder: [In German/Yiddish] Tell me please what is your name?
  • Raisel Roset: Raisel Roset.
  • David Boder: What is your name?
  • Raisel Roset: Raisel Roset.
  • David Boder: Raisel?
  • Raisel Roset: Roset.
  • David Boder: Roset?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: Was that your name in Poland too? [She apparently nods] Please talk, [laughter] otherwise one cannot . . .
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: And how old are you Mrs. Roset?
  • Raisel Roset: Fifty years old.
  • David Boder: You are fifty years old.
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: Are you married?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: Where is your husband?
  • Raisel Roset: He was in the occup— . . . he was in the occupied parts of Poland, and when the German-Russian war broke out . . . since then there was no word from him; and now, unfortunately, I have learned that he had fallen.
  • David Boder: . . . had fallen.
  • Raisel Roset: He has perished, he was put to death.
  • David Boder: Where?
  • Raisel Roset: That I don't know yet.
  • David Boder: So how were you informed?
  • Raisel Roset: I learned about it. A cousin from Poland has notified me about it.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: He was put to death in Kremenets.
  • David Boder: Ah . . . you have a cousin in Poland? [a female cousin]
  • Raisel Roset: A cousin of my husband.
  • David Boder: In Russian Poland or in free Poland? [Certain sections of Poland were to go over to Russia permanently—east of the Curzon line]
  • Raisel Roset: In free Poland.
  • David Boder: In free Poland. Now tell me, when did the Germans come . . . Where did you live?
  • Raisel Roset: I—in Janow [?]
  • David Boder: In . . . ?
  • Raisel Roset: . . . district of Lublin, Weimar [?], district of Lublin.
  • David Boder: . . . district of Lublin. And that was Poland.
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. And who marched in there, the Russians?
  • Raisel Roset: The Germans.
  • David Boder: The Germans. Now tell me.
  • Raisel Roset: There were a few days, the Germans came in the 6th of ________. After a few days they left Janow and the Russians came in.
  • David Boder: Ah.
  • Raisel Roset: And then my husband went away with them[?] As president of the Zionist organization—and they were the first to be sent to concentration camps, so he left together with the Russians, for Dubno [?].
  • David Boder: Ah.
  • Raisel Roset: And afterwards for Kremenets.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: All the time I received letters from him, but afterwards when the German-Russian war broke out, the correspondence was cut short.
  • David Boder: Nu . . .
  • Raisel Roset: I sent a special messenger to him; and he, in spite of being my relative [?] has deceived me, and told me that my husband has gone into Russia, deep into Russia.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: I felt reassured. And then started our troubles in Poland.
  • David Boder: So who do you think killed your husband?
  • Raisel Roset: I don't know yet.
  • David Boder: The Germans or the Russians?
  • Raisel Roset: I don't know it yet. I have not yet found out.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: Because they still are searching for me [??]
  • David Boder: Ah.
  • Raisel Roset: And then started by us the compulsory translocation.
  • David Boder: That was ordered by the Germans?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes. By the order of translocation the city of Janow was made completely Jew clean.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: And all [Jewish] inhabitants of Janow were sent to a little town, twenty kilometers from Janow, to Yldiza [?] There the same thing started. One translocation followed after the other.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Raisel Roset: One day we noticed that our president of the Jewish council had run away. Then we understood that the liquidation has come [??]
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: And whoever . . . who had a chance saved himself, of course.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: I, in hopes that my man was in Russia . . . so I obtained Aryan papers.
  • David Boder: What kind of papers? [The term was not familiar to the interviewer—hence the question.]
  • Raisel Roset: Aryan
  • David Boder: Aryan papers . . .
  • Raisel Roset: And ran away.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Raisel Roset: I ran to a Polish family I knew, and there I was six weeks. Afterwards, they did not want to keep me any more, because they were also in danger from the Germans if I should be found with them. So I picked up my kit and kaboodle and wandered on. So I went to Czestochowa. In Czestochowa I was a few weeks, rambled around, a day here, a night there [nit getogt, nit gen chtigt] in the cold, wandering day long in the streets, it was hard to find a room. And I saw that this neither was a solution for me, and I went back to the Jew-lager.
  • David Boder: Ah . . .
  • Raisel Roset: Into the ghetto, back into the Jewish ghetto.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: In the Jewish ghetto again the suffering began. Again deportations. I . . . they registered me for work in an ammunition factory. There I worked five months.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: Afterwards I heard [a rumor] that there will be a selection. The older ones. They of course would be sent to gas chambers, and the younger ones were to remain. And I as an older women understood that the end was coming.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: So I again started to look for means of salvation . . . I got myself again Aryan papers and escaped from Czestochowa. And then I was deported from the Polish side to Germany as an Aryan [woman], for work. There . . .
  • David Boder: Why did they deport the Aryans?
  • Raisel Roset: The Germans?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: They deported me as an Aryan woman to Germany for work.
  • David Boder: They . . . took you for a German?
  • Raisel Roset: . . . for a Polish woman.
  • David Boder: Aha, as a Polish woman. Nu.
  • Raisel Roset: I arrived in Germany and from there to Lorain.
  • David Boder: Ah.
  • Raisel Roset: Where?
  • Raisel Roset: In a field.
  • David Boder: Aha . . .
  • Raisel Roset: And there I worked for twenty months, a hard job [?].
  • David Boder: What kind of work was that?
  • Raisel Roset: Work on the earth.
  • David Boder: Work on the earth, work in the field?
  • Raisel Roset: Work on the earth, work in the gardens, around the home [?] everywhere . . .
  • David Boder: Oh, you worked as a house servant.
  • Raisel Roset: Housework, in the garden in the field, everywhere I worked.
  • David Boder: Yes. With whom, with the family?
  • Raisel Roset: With other people. There were others. There was a Russian girl, a deportee. There were two war prisoners. And together with them I worked for twenty months. Very, very hard work.
  • David Boder: Excuse me, for wom did you work.
  • Raisel Roset: [excited] For the farmer.
  • David Boder: For the German . . . for a German farmer?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes. Afterwards . . .
  • David Boder: Did he treat you correctly. Did he . . . ?
  • Raisel Roset: He—yes. She [treated me] very bad.
  • David Boder: And . . .
  • Raisel Roset: I even had not enough to eat. I hungered many times. She was a very bad woman.
  • David Boder: And he?
  • Raisel Roset: He not, he not [he was not bad].
  • David Boder: All right. [The first few days in France the interviewer automatically used many English words in his questions]
  • Raisel Roset: And then, after twenty months of hard work, this region was [subsequently] occupied by the Americans—and they have liberated me.
  • David Boder: After twenty months.
  • Raisel Roset: After twenty months of work.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Raisel Roset: They have liberated me, and sent me to Paris.
  • David Boder: Where?
  • Raisel Roset: To France, they sent me to France.
  • David Boder: The Americans? [She could have been left in a DP camp in Germany].
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Raisel Roset: I pleaded with them, I want to go to France. I don't want to be anymore with the Germans, and work for them further . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: Here I learned of my great misfortune.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: I learned about my whole family. From a large [?] family I remained the only one. And my sisters and bothers, and children and everybody. And the worst I learned was that my man was killed as I have told you.
  • David Boder: Ah. Now tell me Mrs. Roset, what was you husband's occupation before?
  • Raisel Roset: He had a dry goods business.
  • David Boder: Where?
  • Raisel Roset: In Janow [She pronounces it like Zamoz].
  • David Boder: In Zamoz?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: And you say that was with the Zionist organization?
  • Raisel Roset: President of the Zionist organization in Janow.
  • David Boder: All right. Did you have any children? Did you . . .
  • Raisel Roset: No.
  • David Boder: You were a childless family?
  • Raisel Roset: Childless . . . yes.
  • David Boder: Have you any brothers or sisters?
  • Raisel Roset: Two brothers, three sisters with husbands, wives, children, all killed by the Germans.
  • David Boder: Were you in a concentration camp?
  • Raisel Roset: I was not.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Raisel Roset: I was in a labor lager in Czestochowa, and from there I ran away. Yes.
  • David Boder: What was that labor lager in Czestochowa. Tell me about it.
  • Raisel Roset: That was a lager . . . when the action was made in Czestochowa, they left from fifty thousand Jews—[a mere] four thousand.
  • David Boder: And what happened to the others.
  • Raisel Roset: The others were sent away to the crematories and the gas chambers. And they assigned for these four thousand a small part of the city, a few small streets; these were fenced in with barbed wire, and there they lived. The workers from Janow [??] had to work all the time in the factories.
  • David Boder: In what kind of factories did they work?
  • Raisel Roset: They worked in the Norovitz [??] factory, and worked in the factory Hossak [??] . . .
  • David Boder: What?
  • Raisel Roset: Hossak, a munition factory.
  • David Boder: You say Norovitz's factory . . . ?
  • Raisel Roset: Norovitz's.
  • David Boder: Who was Norovitz?
  • Raisel Roset: All factories were converted in munition factories, of course.
  • David Boder: Ah, yes. And there, . . .
  • Raisel Roset: And there the Jews worked. And afterwards selections were taking place, deportations took place. Some were deported, others . . . they acted, of course, they way they pleased.
  • David Boder: Yes. Now tell me, in these . . . you worked in a factory, and where did you sleep at night?
  • Raisel Roset: At seven in the morning one had to be in the factory.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Raisel Roset: That was a few kilometers away. At six in the morning the gates of the ghetto were opened, for the labor lager. All workers were let out, and they would go to work. Seven o'clock in the evening, they would return home into the lager [ghetto and lager are apparently used interchangeably]. And there everybody had his corner [then follows the Hebrew word for place—mokum].
  • David Boder: What?
  • Raisel Roset: The mokum, which everybody was given, there one lived.
  • David Boder: Aha. Now tell where did they eat.
  • Raisel Roset: They ate at the factory.
  • David Boder: In the morning, and . . . ?
  • Raisel Roset: In the morning, and at midday . . .
  • David Boder: Did they pay any money for the work?
  • Raisel Roset: They did not pay. I am telling you. They only gave food.
  • David Boder: Well if one needed something, some soap, cigarets, or such things . . .
  • Raisel Roset: [she mumbles something like] We got nothing.
  • David Boder: Nothing [??].
  • Raisel Roset: [an emotional sentence—not clear]
  • David Boder: Yes. Did the Jews have there their prayer meetings, their synagogues? Did they have that in the ghetto?
  • Raisel Roset: In the ghetto, no?
  • David Boder: No? That was not permitted?
  • Raisel Roset: No. That was a labor lager.
  • David Boder: Aha. And they worked on Saturday and Sunday?
  • Raisel Roset: Of course. Of course.
  • David Boder: Aha. Now, do you have relatives here in Paris?
  • Raisel Roset: Here? I have nobody.
  • David Boder: You have nobody here. You simply have asked the Americans to send you.
  • Raisel Roset: I heard that here there are already Jews.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Raisel Roset: . . . and that is why I asked, that they send me to Paris. And to Paris I came as an Aryan [woman]. Only here I appealed to a Jewish society, and I revealed that I am Jewish born.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, you lived as an Aryan [woman]. Did you live all the time in the lager as an Aryan woman?
  • Raisel Roset: In the labor camp I was a Jewess.
  • David Boder: As a Jewess. But with the farmer . . .
  • Raisel Roset: With the farmer I was an Aryan, of course.
  • David Boder: Were they compelling you . . . did they want you to go to church, did they?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes, I went a few times . . .
  • David Boder: To the Catholic [church]?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: Nu. Tell me, did they treat the Poles the same way as the Jews?
  • Raisel Roset: Oh . . . no. The Poles were deported just for work, but the Jews were killed; very simply.
  • David Boder: But . . .
  • Raisel Roset: The Jews, when they were deported, were deported to the gas chambers, to the crematories. When the Poles were deported, they were deported to Germany, for work. That is why I had the Aryan papers, so that I should not be sent away . . .
  • David Boder: Who gave you the Aryan papers?
  • Raisel Roset: For money.
  • David Boder: For money, aha . . .
  • Raisel Roset: They were made [forged?].
  • David Boder: Aha . . . and then you came to Paris, and here you came to whom?
  • Raisel Roset: Here . . . I told you, I came to a French shelter; from there I was reported to the Polish consulate; and there I told them that I was a Jewess, and I asked them for an address of a Jewish society because I wanted . . . and so they gave it to me, and I went to . . . Boulevard d'Italien.
  • David Boder: What was there?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes. The Jewish society, and they later placed me in Famille [two words not clear] that was a home for the deported, and there I stayed for a considerable time.
  • David Boder: Yes. And the, where do you live now?
  • Raisel Roset: Now . . . afterwards, I was assigned to various bureaus [the last few words are not clear] and I went over to live on _______________ [she gives an address in French].
  • David Boder: And what is that?
  • Raisel Roset: . . . where I live up to this day.
  • David Boder: And what is that? A private [place/?
  • Raisel Roset: Now there is . . . no, that too was a home for the deported, but afterwards the consistoire has taken it over; because there is a seminary, a Rabbi's seminary.
  • David Boder: Aha . . .
  • Raisel Roset: . . . and I . . . I requested that they give me work, and I remained living there.
  • David Boder: And what kind of work are you doing?
  • Raisel Roset: As a cook.
  • David Boder: You work there as a cook . . . you are cooking there . . . and you are coming here in the evening?
  • Raisel Roset: And here, I learn a trade in the evening.
  • David Boder: That is with the ORT.
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: And what are you learning here?
  • Raisel Roset: . . . here? Corsets.
  • David Boder: Corsets . . . and after you have learned it, what do you want to do?
  • Raisel Roset: I have registered already a year ago to go to Palestine . . .
  • David Boder: You have registered to go to Pales— . . .
  • Raisel Roset: Yes . . . long ago [??] have I registered . . .
  • David Boder: Whom do you have in Palestine?
  • Raisel Roset: There I have a cousin [feminine].
  • David Boder: Have you written to her?
  • Raisel Roset: Yes.
  • David Boder: Does she want you to come?
  • Raisel Roset: But of course.
  • David Boder: With your experience in farm work it should be all right.
  • Raisel Roset: Oh yes, I should do it gladly, but what can I do, if I still have no permit to go . . .
  • David Boder: Oh, now it will come soon . . . [Note: During the first few interviews an exploratory attempt was made to give the TAT. This was given up because it was time consuming, and did not directly fit into the plans of the project. —D.P.B.]
  • David Boder: Will you do me a favor . . . I am a professor, and I am making a study of these things . . . you see this picture? What do you think it is, what is it about?
  • Raisel Roset: What it is? [not clear]
  • David Boder: Yes, what does it mean? What do you think it is, or could it be?
  • Raisel Roset: Possibly a mother who has lost her children.
  • David Boder: A mother who has lost her children. And what is this?
  • Raisel Roset: That is a boy, a child.
  • David Boder: Yes . . . and what is it about?
  • Raisel Roset: He thinks of a melody.
  • David Boder: Hm. And this?
  • Raisel Roset: That is a dying [person]
  • David Boder: Yes . . .
  • Raisel Roset: And he . . . they bless him.
  • David Boder: Hm . . . and this?
  • Raisel Roset: [In a solemn tone] People are running away from somewhere.
  • David Boder: Hm . . .
  • Raisel Roset: People are running away from somewhere. [Unfortunately the number of the card has not been recorded].
  • David Boder: So . . . and this?
  • Raisel Roset: That is possibly the land of dreams.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : Rivka Schiller
  • English Translation : David P. Boder