David P. Boder Interviews Edith Zierer; September 8, 1946; Bellevue, France

  • David Boder: [In English] Chicago, November the 14, 1950. This is reproduction Spool 116B. The interviewee is Edith Zierer. Boder.
  • David Boder: We have now another young girl.
  • David Boder: [In German] What is your name?
  • Edith Zierer: Edith Zierer [?].
  • David Boder: Edij . . . ?
  • Edith Zierer: Edith.
  • David Boder: Edith. And the first name?
  • Edith Zierer: Zierer.
  • David Boder: Zierer. You spell your name C . . .
  • Edith Zierer: No. Z-I-E . . .
  • David Boder: Z . . . Please write it down. Your first name is Edith, true? You simply are accustomed to give the first name at the end?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: You speak German, true? Now, Edith, how old are you?
  • Edith Zierer: [She speaks in a very low voice] Fifteen.
  • David Boder: Fifteen.
  • David Boder: [In English] We are starting at the . . . we are starting at the fifteen minute of the Spool number 116 an interview with Edith Kira [incorrect], age fifteen, at Bellevue, near Paris, a home for displaced children, who are here with a group of teachers which [who have] removed them from Poland.
  • David Boder: [In German] And so tell me, Edith, where were you when the war started?
  • Edith Zierer: When the war started I went from Katowice in Silesia, no?—to Cracow, and then [I went] together with the parents to Lemberg.
  • David Boder: Aha. Tell me, how old were you then?
  • Edith Zierer: Nine years.
  • David Boder: You were nine years old. And of whom did your family consist? The father . . .
  • Edith Zierer: There were the father, the mother, and one sister, a younger sister.
  • David Boder: A younger sister.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: How old about was your father then?
  • Edith Zierer: The father? Then? Forty-one years old.
  • David Boder: Yes. Do you know where your father is?
  • Edith Zierer: [Barely audible voice] No.
  • David Boder: No. And where your mother is?
  • Edith Zierer: Neither. They went away with a transport in '42 to Dachau [?].
  • David Boder: Both together? Father and mother?
  • Edith Zierer: No. First the father.
  • David Boder: Aha. Now then, will you please tell me the whole story. What happened, as you remember it, when the Germans arrived in Katowice. Nu.
  • Edith Zierer: I was . . .
  • David Boder: When the war started.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. When the war started I went with my parents to Cracow, and from Cracow to Lemberg.
  • David Boder: Why so fast. Now how long were you in Cracow?
  • Edith Zierer: Two days.
  • David Boder: Why did you go to Cracow?
  • Edith Zierer: Why? Because Katowice is near the border, near the German border. And there is . . . were a lot of troops [apparently Polish].
  • David Boder: Troops. So you simply left.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: What was the occupation of your father?
  • Edith Zierer: He had a business.
  • David Boder: What kind of business?
  • Edith Zierer: Of leather. Leather.
  • David Boder: A leather business. Did he sell leather, or things of leather?
  • Edith Zierer: Things of leather. Leather and rugs. All kinds of merchandise.
  • David Boder: It was a big store in Katowice.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now then, from Katowice you went to Cracow. And what did your parents do there? How long were you in Katowice?
  • Edith Zierer: A few days [?].
  • David Boder: Why so little?
  • Edith Zierer: We left the 28th of September, and then the war started.
  • David Boder: Oh. You left before the war.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, a few days [before].
  • David Boder: And then, afterwards . . . why did you remain in Lemberg only a few days?
  • Edith Zierer: No. We were in Lemberg one year, a whole year.
  • David Boder: So where then were you a few days?
  • Edith Zierer: In Cracow.
  • David Boder: In Cracow you spent a few days.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And then you went to Lemberg.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And in Lemberg you spent the whole year.
  • Edith Zierer: A whole year.
  • David Boder: Nu. And what happened there?
  • Edith Zierer: There was very little food. There was a [great] scarcity. We ate very badly. And when we returned to Cracow, because Lemberg was under the Russians. No [you see?]?
  • David Boder: Oh, Lemberg, still was . . . That was still when the Russians and Germans were not at war.
  • Edith Zierer: No. Before the war.
  • David Boder: Before the war, the Germans-Russian war.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: So you went from Lemberg back to Prague [Cracow?].
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Well. Was there . . .
  • Edith Zierer: At the station . . .
  • David Boder: . . . more to eat?
  • Edith Zierer: There was more to eat. We had relatives there. They helped us, no?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: And then we . . . in '41 the Ghetto was established in Cracow, so we left from Wieliczka [words not clear].
  • David Boder: For Wieliczka. Is that the same place where Miss Kuechler was?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. So you left for Wieliczka.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And . . . now then, what happened there?
  • Edith Zierer: There we remained for a year and a half. And again an expulsion, a real expulsion, and we left for Cracow, and then . . .
  • David Boder: What does it mean, an expulsion?
  • Edith Zierer: An expulsion, a total expulsion, a Jew-clean [procedure—an ordinance to 'free a locality of its Jews].
  • David Boder: Oh. The city was to be made Jew-clean. And you left for Cracow alone or with a transport?
  • Edith Zierer: No. With the parents. We were fifteen [?] kilometers from Cracow, so we went on foot.
  • David Boder: Oh. You went with the parents on foot to Cracow.
  • Edith Zierer: To Cracow.
  • David Boder: You did not want . . .
  • Edith Zierer: To the Aryan side. Because there was already a Ghetto.
  • David Boder: In Cracow [there] was a Ghetto. Did you . . .
  • Edith Zierer: In Cracow [there] was a Ghetto.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: But we went to the Aryan side.
  • David Boder: How were you admitted to the Aryan side?
  • Edith Zierer: We had not [words not clear]. We came [?] in on Aryan papers.
  • David Boder: Did you have Aryan papers?
  • Edith Zierer: The mother had Aryan papers.
  • David Boder: Oh. And you [?]?
  • Edith Zierer: We were still very small. We did not need any [?].
  • David Boder: And the father?
  • Edith Zierer: The father was hiding. He had a very Semitic appearance, so he had to hide.
  • David Boder: What kind of an appearance?
  • Edith Zierer: Very, very Semitic . . .
  • David Boder: Semitic. He was . . . he looked Jewish.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: So he hid himself.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And the mother with the children took the risk . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . to pass over . . . to the Aryan side.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And what happened then?
  • Edith Zierer: And then we were . . . we were in Cracow a few days, on the Aryan side. And then somebody reported on the mama, no? A German, he did . . . he did . . . about her. He knew her.
  • David Boder: He denounced her . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. He knew her, and he reported on her, and she was [taken] to the police, to the Gestapo.
  • David Boder: And where did you remain?
  • Edith Zierer: We . . . we remained in the city, with my sister, all alone.
  • David Boder: That means the two children?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: You . . . you were nine years old, and . . .
  • Edith Zierer: I was then already ten.
  • David Boder: Ten years old. And the sister, how old was she?
  • Edith Zierer: Eight.
  • David Boder: And they took . . . they took away the mother without you?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: How did that . . . how did that come about?
  • Edith Zierer: Because we remained home, and the mama went out on the street [?] and . . .
  • David Boder: She was taken on the street?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. And she did not return.
  • David Boder: And your mama did not return any more?
  • Edith Zierer: No.
  • David Boder: Did you know what happened to her?
  • Edith Zierer: No. We knew nothing.
  • David Boder: Did you find out later?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. After four weeks we learned that she was held in the [name not clear]. That was a prison, a German prison.
  • David Boder: Yes. And then?
  • Edith Zierer: Well, then we went to the Ghetto by ourselves, because we had no other way out.
  • David Boder: What does that mean? The two children?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. And in the Ghetto we found the father, and together with him we went to Bieżanów [district of Cracow], because in Cracow there began a resettlement [expulsion of the Jews]. And we left.
  • David Boder: Now then, you say your father had hid himself.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, but he returned to the Ghetto, because he could not remain there for a long.
  • David Boder: Where he hid himself?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: So he returned to the Ghetto.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And you found the father.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: How did you find him? [Chuckle.]
  • Edith Zierer: [Laughter.] On the street. The Ghetto was very small, only a few streets. No?
  • David Boder: You did not know that your father was there?
  • Edith Zierer: No, I did not know.
  • David Boder: How was it? You went out on the street and . . .
  • Edith Zierer: No. I came to the Ghetto, and on the corner there stood the father.
  • David Boder: Well, what did he say?
  • Edith Zierer: He was very glad, but when he heard that the Mama was gone, then he already [her voice fades into silence].
  • David Boder: [Pause. Slowly] Yes. [Pause.] Now then . . . and then you were with your father in the Ghetto. And what happened then?
  • Edith Zierer: Then we went to a lager, to Bieżanów [district of Cracow] near Cracow.
  • David Boder: You were sent away?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. We went by ourselves to the lager, because it was a work lager.
  • David Boder: Your father with the children.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And what work could you do?
  • Edith Zierer: No. I could not work. They wanted to throw me out of the lager, because they accepted in the lager only [those] from the age of fifteen and up . . .
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Edith Zierer: . . . for work. And I could not work yet. So we were thrown out, I and my sister.
  • David Boder: What does that mean, 'thrown out'?
  • Edith Zierer: We were thrown out. The Germans came in, made a check-up. So they threw out.
  • David Boder: They told you to leave?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. They did not tell us. We were thrown out over the wires [fence].
  • David Boder: What does that mean? They lifted you up and threw you out?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. There were such wires [fences], so they threw us out. The father did not happen to be present at the moment. He was at work, and we were alone in the lager [apparently factory grounds].
  • David Boder: Aha. And the sister, too?
  • Edith Zierer: Too. And so we went to the Pole [the words for Poland and Pole in the dative case are the same: Polen].
  • David Boder: To Poland?
  • Edith Zierer: To a Pole, to a peasant.
  • David Boder: You went to a peasant. And then?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes. And there we stayed for some time. And I . . . she wanted to get some pay, so the sister remained, and I went to Cracow to the Ghetto and brought from there some money, paid up for the sister . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: And I myself remained in the Ghetto, because I . . . I worked here [in the Ghetto] a bit. I helped out, and I lived on it. I helped out [did some chores].
  • David Boder: Aha. Your Papa was still in the Ghetto?
  • Edith Zierer: In the lager.
  • David Boder: In the lager. And you had returned to the lager. [Correction] Oh, you lived in the Ghetto . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . and helped out your papa [with your earnings].
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And what became of your sister?
  • Edith Zierer: Of my sister. Well, she was with a peasant. And then a deportation occurred from the lager to a large concentration camp, so I with papa [?] fetched the sister. The papa himself [did it], because he wanted that we should all be together.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Edith Zierer: So we all together went to a concentration camp in Plaszow. That is a large lager.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: There I stayed for five weeks. And after five weeks I, all alone, was taken to Skarzysko, to a munitions factory.
  • David Boder: How old were you then?
  • Edith Zierer: Eleven years. Going into my twelfth.
  • David Boder: Eleven years old. Now then, you went to . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Skarzysko.
  • David Boder: Pla- . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Plaszow. To Plaszow.
  • David Boder: You went to Plaszow.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Did you go together with you father . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . and your sister?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, yes, together.
  • David Boder: Was that permitted, men and children in one . . .
  • Edith Zierer: No. That was a separate lager, but they saw each other every day.
  • David Boder: That was a separate lager.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, when you were in the lager . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . were there many other children?
  • Edith Zierer: There were . . . there was a children's home, but I did not . . . I did not want to be there, because I wanted to do some work so that I could help out the papa, because the papa was very weak. He felt bad [he did not feel good]. No?
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Edith Zierer: The sister was in a children's home, and I was not in the children's home. I worked.
  • David Boder: A children's home in the lager?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: And who managed the children's home?
  • Edith Zierer: The Germans didn't know [did not care?] anything about it, but the Jews . . .
  • David Boder: What do you mean? The Germans did not know that there existed a children's home?
  • Edith Zierer: They knew, yes. They knew, but they permitted it.
  • David Boder: They permitted it.
  • Edith Zierer: At the beginning.
  • David Boder: Aha. And then you alone were taken. Where to?
  • Edith Zierer: Skarzysko-Kamienna, to an ammunition factory.
  • David Boder: How come? Were you . . .
  • Edith Zierer: There was a selection at night, so I was taken. I did not want to tell anything to the father and the sister. Not to take leave . . .
  • David Boder: Where were you? Not in the children's home?
  • Edith Zierer: No, I was not. I worked.
  • David Boder: You were with the women?
  • Edith Zierer: And the papa worked somewhere else, and I [worked] somewhere else. No?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: And at night . . . It was during a night shift.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: And at night we were taken . . .
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Edith Zierer: . . . to Skarzysko.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, how did you travel to Skarzysko?
  • Edith Zierer: To Skarzysko? There were a hundred people to a wagon [RR-car]. No?
  • David Boder: Men and women?
  • Edith Zierer: Hm. Only women. The women separately, the men separately.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: And we got a slice of bread. No? We drank a little water and traveled to Skarzysko. We did not know that we traveled to Skarzysko. We thought [we were going] to Auschwitz. And . . .
  • David Boder: You did not know that you . . .
  • Edith Zierer: No. We thought that we were going to Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Did you know what was going on in Auschwitz?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now . . .
  • Edith Zierer: And then in Skarzysko we were disembarked, there nine hundred people, no? So they took seventy people . . . There were three shops.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: A [somewhat] better shop, a bad one, and one very bad, no?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: They did . . . where one just could die at once. So I was [taken] to the first shop . . .
  • David Boder: To the best one?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, I was taken to the best, and since I knew German I got work, no?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: They did not consider that I was a child, a box under my feet, because I was too small.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: And I worked.
  • David Boder: What kind of work did you do?
  • Edith Zierer: At munitions.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: Shells.
  • David Boder: Yes. And how did they behave themselves? How did they behave themselves towards you?
  • Edith Zierer: Towards me they behaved very well, no?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: Because I was small, but still it depended on his moods. He was [?] a good man. At the beginning he behaved himself well, and then it became worse from day to day.
  • David Boder: What was it about? What did he do?
  • Edith Zierer: Not he. He left and other foreman came in his place. And then it was already very bad.
  • David Boder: Why [?]?
  • Edith Zierer: I went hungry. I worked a lot. It was an enormous . . . a three times increase . . .
  • David Boder: What?
  • Edith Zierer: Three times as much of the same work had to be done.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Edith Zierer: And so they beat us . . .
  • David Boder: Who beat you?
  • Edith Zierer: The Germans.
  • David Boder: Yes. Who?
  • Edith Zierer: The foremen.
  • David Boder: The foremen themselves, or were there capos?
  • Edith Zierer: No, there were no capos.
  • David Boder: The masters themselves beat you?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now . . . [go on].
  • Edith Zierer: If one made a smelt, no? [See below.]
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: One would get twenty with a rubber cudgel. [Her voice practically fades for the next section dealing with the beatings.]
  • David Boder: What does it mean, 'when one made a smelt'?
  • Edith Zierer: Smelt, that means a bad shell, no? [Rejected shell to be remelted.]
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: When they . . . there was an inspection [control].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: A continuous German control. If somebody made it wrong, a smelt—that was called a smelt—then he would get a beating.
  • David Boder: With a rubber cudgel.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Edith Zierer: And then in '43 we went away to the third lager . . . [corrects herself] the fourth lager already, to Czestochowa. And in Czestochowa we were for a year and a half, and there the Russians . . .
  • David Boder: You were for a year and a half in Czestochowa.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And there the Russians liberated you.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And there you were all alone?
  • Edith Zierer: All alone.
  • David Boder: Didn't you since then, while you were in the other factory . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Didn't you hear anything from the father, your sister?
  • Edith Zierer: No, no, nothing.
  • David Boder: And you don't know where your sister is now?
  • Edith Zierer: No, nothing. She probably went to Auschwitz, and there the children, too, were [voice fades] done away with.
  • David Boder: In Auschwitz [in subdued tone like an echo] the children were done away with? [In normal voice] Now then the Russian had liberated you. And what happened then?
  • Edith Zierer: Then I returned to Katowice, because I thought that the parents were there. So I . . .
  • David Boder: What does it mean, 'you returned'? How did you return to . . .
  • Edith Zierer: The Russians were not any more in Chenstokhov, so I returned [retreated?] together with the Russians.
  • David Boder: What does that mean, 'with the Russians'?
  • Edith Zierer: Together with the army.
  • David Boder: By train or how?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: By train? Did they admit you?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And you returned. Where to?
  • Edith Zierer: To Katowice.
  • David Boder: Yes, and . . .
  • Edith Zierer: In Katowice I did not find anybody, no? The parents were there no more. The house was lead-sealed [plumbed], and I could not get in at all. And I spent a few weeks with the Committee [in a shelter], and then I went to Cracow, and they took me with them [her voice fades] . . .
  • David Boder: What?
  • Edith Zierer: They were with [?] me.
  • David Boder: Aha?
  • Edith Zierer: They helped me.
  • David Boder: Why was the house lead-sealed? Was this your own house [your property]?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, that was our own house. When the Germans left they plumbed it.
  • David Boder: Oh. Couldn't you tear off the plumb?
  • Edith Zierer: No, that was [prohibited] . . . that was not permitted.
  • David Boder: But the Russians were already there.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, but the Russians did not permit it, because I was not yet eighteen years old.
  • David Boder: You were not yet eighteen, and . . . ?
  • Edith Zierer: That is what I was told, no? When I shall be eighteen years old I will get the apartment back. Because nobody else from the family had remained, and I was [allegedly] too young to have my own apartment.
  • David Boder: Aha. And no one else lived there?
  • Edith Zierer: There were Russians afterwards [?], an officer [?].
  • David Boder: Aha. And he entered the apartment.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Did you see? Were your things there?
  • Edith Zierer: No.
  • David Boder: Aha. Talk in this direction [towards the microphone].
  • Edith Zierer: No, nothing was there any more.
  • David Boder: And to what kind of a woman did you go? A Jewess or a . . . ? [She must have mentioned this woman aside from the microphone.]
  • Edith Zierer: A Jewess.
  • David Boder: And . . .
  • Edith Zierer: She took me in, and I had it very good with her.
  • David Boder: Yes. And then? You were five [?] weeks there?
  • Edith Zierer: And then I was sent to Zakopane.
  • David Boder: Who?
  • Edith Zierer: The Committee.
  • David Boder: Which Committee was that?
  • Edith Zierer: The Committee of Katowice, a Jewish Committee.
  • David Boder: Yes. And how far is Zakopane from Katowice?
  • Edith Zierer: From Katowice? One hundred and fifty kilometers.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Edith Zierer: That is a children's home, no? That is [words not clear].
  • David Boder: Yes. They sent you to a children's home where . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . Mrs. Kuechler was?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: And . . . what happened then?
  • Edith Zierer: I had it very good there. I studied, and then we left for France.
  • David Boder: Why did you leave for France? What happened there?
  • Edith Zierer: The Poles. The Poles were beating up, no?
  • David Boder: Whom.
  • Edith Zierer: The Jews. We were . . . we were going to school, to the gymnasium [secondary school], and they beat us up, and . . .
  • David Boder: Who beat you? The children at school, yes?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, the children at school.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Edith Zierer: [They were] anti-Semitic. Well . . .
  • David Boder: Well, yes. But the war . . . the Poles were liberated. They were . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Well, but they did not want . . . In Zakopane there were very many Jews, and they did not want any Jews. They could not look at the Jews. And they . . . the Jews were beaten up. A better seat in the [classroom] . . .
  • David Boder: And what did the teachers say? The Police?
  • Edith Zierer: The teachers—nothing. The director intervened some. Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Edith Zierer: The director hollered . . . hollered at them.
  • David Boder: He scolded them a bit.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: But they paid no heed.
  • Edith Zierer: No, not at all.
  • David Boder: Nu, and then what was going on in Zakopane? What happened then?
  • Edith Zierer: So we left. The . . . the . . . Mrs. Kuechler has . . . that is, we departed with her.
  • David Boder: And where did you go?
  • Edith Zierer: First to Prague. And from Prague—we were a week in Prague—and then to France.
  • David Boder: How did you go to France, by . . .
  • Edith Zierer: By bus.
  • David Boder: By bus. [Chuckle.] All sixty children in one . . .
  • Edith Zierer: Two busses.
  • David Boder: Two busses. Who provided these busses?
  • Edith Zierer: That was an organization who provided . . .
  • David Boder: You don't know what kind of organization? Now, what are you now doing here?
  • Edith Zierer: Here? We study . . .
  • David Boder: What are you studying?
  • Edith Zierer: I attend the second year of Gymnasium.
  • David Boder: You are going to school here.
  • Edith Zierer: No. We have it at home. We have a professor and a woman teacher.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: And we study Hebrew, French . . .
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Edith Zierer: And we studied English, but now we can't study three languages at once.
  • David Boder: Yes, and one shouldn't.
  • Edith Zierer: So we study two languages, geography, history, and . . .
  • David Boder: . . . et cetera.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Do you work? Do you help with the chores?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, every child helps here. Every week . . . every week a different child has duty in the kitchen, no? She works. Or a duty [?] in the house, in the garden.
  • David Boder: And who attends [takes care of] the little children?
  • Edith Zierer: There are such two women, no?
  • David Boder: Two women take care of the small children.
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Do you have to help out with it?
  • Edith Zierer: No, not now any more.
  • David Boder: Nu, and what do you think will become of you?
  • Edith Zierer: I don't know.
  • David Boder: Oh. [Pause.] What do you want to learn? What would you like to study? What do you like to learn?
  • Edith Zierer: I want to study? [Pause.]
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Edith Zierer: I don't know [?].
  • David Boder: How much schooling did you have?
  • Edith Zierer: Schooling? I have studied . . . four grades, completed, no? And when the war was over I went to Zakopane, to the first grade of the Gymnaisum [apparently high school level]. And then . . .
  • David Boder: Now, do you want to learn some trade?
  • Edith Zierer: A trade. Maybe [?] no. I enjoy very much to study languages, no?
  • David Boder: What languages?
  • Edith Zierer: Makes no difference.
  • David Boder: Hm. And where do you all intend to go?
  • Edith Zierer: To Palestine, for sure.
  • David Boder: You are for sure to go to Palestine?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Well. There you will mostly work on the land?
  • Edith Zierer: Well, maybe.
  • David Boder: Do you like it here?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, very much.
  • David Boder: Well. Could you tell me, if I ask you about all this time, which was the hardest moment in your life?
  • Edith Zierer: The hardest moment was when they took away the mama. I remained all alone with the sister. Without a penny, we had no money, no? And we did not know where the father was. We remained all alone on the Aryan side. And then when I left, without the parents, without the father and the sister, for Skarzysko.
  • David Boder: Now . . . When you worked in the munitions factory, where did you sleep?
  • Edith Zierer: There were long barracks. I did [words not clear]. The beds [?] were mounted. Hundred fifty people were in a long barracks.
  • David Boder: Women alone?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes, separate. The women were separate, the men separate.
  • David Boder: Was your hair . . . hair shorn?
  • Edith Zierer: Well, only from the head.
  • David Boder: Otherwise not.
  • Edith Zierer: No.
  • David Boder: Were you able to keep clean there?
  • Edith Zierer: Yes.
  • David Boder: Did they give soap?
  • Edith Zierer: Very little. But we were . . . because in a munitions factory there is a lot of soap, we had . . . and soda. So we washed ourselves with that soda. It was smarting badly, but . . .
  • David Boder: Yes. So you washed yourselves with the soda. What was there soap for in the munitions factory?
  • Edith Zierer: So, to wash the shells [?]. The shells [?] were washed.
  • David Boder: Oh. So you took some soap with you, or what?
  • Edith Zierer: It was not permitted to take [it]. One got beaten for it, but sometimes one would get it from the foreman, when he was in a good mood [?].
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes the interview with Edith Zierer, a fifteen year old girl who is now in the home for displaced children at Bellevue near Paris. An Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : Dagmar Platt
  • English Translation : David P. Boder