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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.

  • Leftovers.

  • 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.

  • Screaming.

  • Laughing.

  • 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.

  • Okay?

  • 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.

- You were up in an attic,

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Kids Meet a Holocaust Survivor | Kids Meet | HiHo Kids

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    Samuel posted on 2018/10/18
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