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- You were up in an attic,
and I heard the following conversation.
"I don't want us to die the
way those Jews died today.

"So the only way out of
this mess that I got you in,

"we'll have to poison them."
- And they were talking about you guys.
- Right.
(upbeat instrumental music)
So what's your name?
- Talbot. What's yours?
- Talbot, good name.
My name is Henry.
- Nice to meet you, Henry.

- Hi.
- I'm Zera.
- Hi Zera.

What's your name?
- Mira. Nice to meet you.
- I hear you're a
survivor of the Holocaust.

- Yes I am.
How much do you know about the Holocaust?
- I think I know a lot.
I'm Jewish.
- I see.
- So it's very relevant.
- We've been trying to
track down our family tree

and our family was hit hard.
Like, none of our immediate grandparents,
but it's still shocking.
- Where were you born?
And, like, what time?
- I was born in 1928 in
Pettanko Brody, Poland.

Which had a Jewish population of 10,000
and when I was liberated,
we were 88 of us that survived.
- Oh my.
- Do you speak a lot about the Holocaust?
- I started about probably in 1983.
I read an article.
It said the Holocaust never happened.
- Right.
- And I said if the
Holocaust didn't happen,

what happened to all my relatives?
I decided I couldn't be silent any longer.
- What was the first time
you experienced antisemitism?

- The kids came out of the
school and started yelling,

"Jesus killer!
"Just wait until Hitler comes.
"He will take care of you."
And this is the first time
that I heard antisemitism.

- What were your earliest,
vividest memories of the war like?
- It was the September of 1939.
I was at that time about 11 years old.
Germany attacked Poland.
Every time a bomb fell, the Earth shook.
I saw my city burning.
But what caught my eye,
right across the street,

I saw a horse laying.
- Oh no.

- With a wound in his stomach.
And it was kind of bubbling.
I've never forgotten that sight.
I still see those big eyes
looking at me so helplessly.

- Were you put in a concentration camp?
- No, I was never in a concentration camp.
I was very lucky.
When the German started
forming ghettos, we had a farm,

and my father took us out to the farm.
A young lady, her name is Julia Simchuk.
She overhears a conversation
between the Gestapo

that they're about to pick up my father
to take him to a concentration camp.
She runs through deep snow to warn
my father to run for his life.
He found two Christian
families to take us in.

So that night, we
disappeared from existence.

- Did you hide in a house?
- I hid in a barn up in the attic.
My father was maybe a half
of a kilometer away in a barn

up in the loft above a chicken coop.
- Can you tell us more about
the family that hid you?

- One lady that took in my father,
she did not tell her husband,
and she kept bringing him food
that she would take for the pigs.
Right here, the rope, four
people would lay in this space.

- Wow.
- Without being able to stand up.
- So how did you fit four
people in this little space?

- Oh, very simple.
Put your head this way,
and then the next person
right here, head this way.

- Wow.
- I can't imagine this.
- How long did you have to lie in place?
- 18 months.
- How did you get through each day
in those 18 months you were in hiding?
- It was lots of boredom.
We had a straw roof, so I would
be up there counting straws.

The only outside that I got was a hole
about the opening of a silver dollar.
I could look into the village.
And I always saw boys playing football.
I used to think many times
that I was going to escape,

but then there was guns firing at night
and it would scare me.
- If you weren't Jewish,
would you have taken the leap

to hide a Jewish family in your own home?
- This is an excellent question.
I don't know.
In emergency, if somebody
came to you, needed help,

but if you help them, you
endangered your own life,

would you do it?
- I think I would.
- Well, that's very noble of you.
If you asked me,
yes, I want to help people.
But I don't think I would
want to endanger my own life.

In a way, I don't think
that they even realized

the danger they were
getting themselves in.

- Did the Christian family
that was hiding you guys

ever get caught, or were
they ever in trouble?

- They got panicky.
In September of 1943,
a Jewish couple with
an 8-year-old daughter

are found hiding in the forest.
About 500 people in a
village were asked to come

and see what would happen
to anyone hiding a Jew.

And when all people came back,
I heard the following conversation.
"I don't want us to die the
way those Jews died today.

"So the only way out of
this mess that I got you in,

"we'll have to poison them."
- And they were talking about you guys.
- Right.
I didn't blame them.
I mean, I don't blame them now.
Because their lives were in danger,
and they wanted to save their own lives.
But at that time they wanted to poison us.
So we rolled and ran at night.
And when we arrived at my father's place,
the lady never knew, she only
knew she was feeding my dad.

He was getting one meal a day.
The five of us were sharing the meal.
- Wow.
- And the one meal would
be a pot of soup still

and a piece of bread would
be sent up to us at night.

Lady Mary never had to wash the pot,
because I had the privilege
to lick every little

drop of food that was
still left in that pot.

I can't possibly describe to you
what it is to be so, so hungry.
- Did you ever feel like giving up?
- No.
I just wanted to know what
it'd feel like to have a full stomach.
- Yeah.
- Was there ever a time
when Nazis or the Gestapo

was in the house that-
- In the barn?

- You were staying in, or in the barn?
- Oh yes, right before liberation.
Right in the yard we were hiding,
one of the German soldiers
was sticking his bayonet up

and the lady came out and
said, "What do you want?"

He said, "I'm looking for some eggs."
She said, "Come, I'll give you some eggs."
We were so, so close to be caught.
If I wouldn't have been
liberated within a week,

I probably wouldn't be here.
- Do you believe in God?
- I do believe in God.
I don't believe in God this
way my grandma, my dad did.

But I do believe there's some power
that was watching over me.
- Do you think it's luck or God?
- What do you believe?
- I believe people can make their own luck
as well as good things
can happen to everyone.

- But do you believe in God?
- Not really.
- No, I respect your thoughts.
Don't misunderstand.
I didn't believe in God either.
I'm being honest with you.
'Cause I couldn't believe that our God,
how could He allow all my
grandma, all my cousins,

all those people be killed?
So I had a very difficult time.
But if I didn't believe in God,
I don't think I would have survived,
because it gave me hope.
- At what point did you feel
safe from religious persecution?
- That's a good question.
I never have felt that.
I'll be honest with you.
Even living in America.
We still have in this country,
hatred; it hasn't disappeared.
- Do you think something like
the Holocaust could ever happen again?
- You don't have to wait.
Look, we have had many
genocides since the Holocaust.

Yes, it can happen.
It's up to us to prevent it.
It isn't just the
perpetrators that are bad.

It's people that stand
by and let it happen.

- That's very true.
- I'm very proud of you.
Both of you.
That you study a subject
that I personally had

a very difficult time for
many, many years to talk about.

Good luck to you.
- Thank you.
- Keep smiling.

You got a beautiful smile.
Thank you.
- Thank you.
- If you would like to learn
more about the Holocaust,

please visit Henry Friedman,
Holocaust Center for Humanity
in Seattle, Washington.

There are many, many
other Holocaust stories,

and each one is unique in its own way.
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Kids Meet a Holocaust Survivor | Kids Meet | HiHo Kids

450 Folder Collection
Samuel published on October 15, 2018
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