Jacobs: Your right ear was damaged during the War?
Grosswasser: I can’t drive. When I was in camp, it was never healed. It never was healed properly. I had an infection. I had about 60 percent hearing.
Jacobs: On your right ear?
Grosswasser: On my right ear.
Jacobs. Uh huh, but 100 percent on your left ear?
Grosswasser: Yes, my left ear is…
Jacobs: That’s good. Good.
Grosswasser: But I have difficulties, especially when I am in a crowd. When I come to hear, for instance, I like to go on lectures, discussions, and I have to always toplace myself to sit on the right side to hear with my left ear.
Jacobs: I see, but you do…it’s not such a great inconvenience, is it?
Grosswasser: Oh, and I miss…I hate to start with a hearing aid…(laughter) But I do miss, many times, you know, the punch words. Sometimes if you miss them, you miss everything.
Jacobs: Is that like missing a good joke? The last word?
Grasswasser: Well, you know, not only a joke. You know, the last impression, an important word you miss. In a crowd you know, my problem is, what the doctor explained to me…In a crowd, you know, that shimmering noise…only from breathing…this, like a wind or a noise like shimmering noise, it disturbs my hearing.
Jacobs: It does?
Grosswasser: Yeah. In a crowd, you know, with lots of people, the breathing, and even if they don’t talk, but you know, the presence of a lot of people is disturbing.
Jacobs: Now this is early in February 1981. How many years ago did that happen?
Grosswasser: Oh, well….what _____________ was it?
Jacobs: Which camp was it?
Grosswasser: ‘51. I was not in a German camp. I was in Russia, in Siberia.
Jacobs: I see.
Grosswasser: In a labor camp.
Jacobs: A labor camp. And today we’re going to talk about how you go there.
Jacobs: You remember when you and I first met at one of the big meetings, at the JCCA, a very casual conversation started. And then you said that you had escaped from Poland into Russia, and I became very much interested. And you said, “No, you never have talked about it very much, you didn’t want to.” And then recently you called up and said, “Yes, you’re ready to talk about it.”
Grosswasser: Well, after this we met one or two times
Grosswasser: You asked me if I am ready, well, I was ready all the time actually. But I just – how do you say – waited until a good time, you know, a convenient time. Well I guess we can talk about it. You see, I come from a family of seven children.
Jacobs: Seven children?
Grosswasser: Seven children. I was the youngest.
Jacobs: And your family lives in…
Grosswasser: ….in Poland.
Grosswasser: near the city of Kielce, which was the district city.
Jacobs: North Poland.
Grosswasser: South of Warsaw.
Jacobs: South of Warsaw.
Grosswasser: South of Warsaw; it was near Cracow, 81 kilometers from Cracow. This was the largest city in the area.
Jacobs: Seven children.
Grosswasser: Yes. I said that my father was an Orthodox, a religious Jew. But you know, we lived in a very difficult time – between the two World Wars. And…
Jacobs: Was he a business man, or professional man?
Grosswasser: Yes, a business man.
Jacobs: He was.
Grosswasser: Yes, he was. He dealt with the cattle. We were well off until I was about ten or eleven. And then he got broke, and we struggled actually, since then. He switched to other businesses but never successfully because the other brothers left home which they worked with my father together.
Jacobs: How many brothers were in the business with him?
Grosswasser: Two, the oldest. Then there were two sisters. There was a brother, a sister, and a brother and a sister and then three youngest, youngest. And one – I have only one brother, they survived, three, the three youngest.
Jacobs: Now in your father’s family, he was one of how many children?
Grosswasser: Well, I don’t know exactly. (Laughter) I have to think. Two brothers only, three sisters that I know.
Jacob: And all of them were in the cattle business with him?
Grosswasser: No, I’m talking about my family. No, no, no, no. they did also own similar businesses. Yeah, they were, but my father, my grand-grand-grandfather…when, in 1863, ‘62 in Russia but ‘63 in Poland, they eliminated serfdom. But Jews were not serfs. They were, they ____________ plenty. There were all kinds of other – how do you say – uh, professions, or businesses. A grand-grandfather had the business of taking from the landlord all the milk he had from his cattle – from his cows – processed it and sold it to the town, to the cities. And while he lived on the farm, he also, also had a right, he used it, he had a portion of land. I don’t know how much. And when they eliminated serfdom, the Czar Alexander II of Russia, this part of Poland was under the Russians, my grand-grand-grandfather inherited, I mean, received that land. It was his. And so this is from where my father, I guess, got _________. We were close to the land. And that’s how my father, I guess, got into the business of cattle. And it was a business that, during the week, there were a few other smaller cattle dealers that used to bring to my father. And Saturday night, one of my brothers and another two men – gentile – used to help load them on the train to the big cities. And it happened one time he made a delivery of cattle and when my brother went to collect the money, that man left for America, with all our money. And my father, you see, like I said, he had the smaller cattle men, yes? And my father was not entirely broke. But he paid all these small guys, all these small men, the money. And he was practically left with nothing.
Jacobs: So one of his partners absconded with money and went to America?
Grosswasser: And left for America. I remember not his name, because for years in the family there was conversation about it. It was like you say, a nickname. They all called him, “mumpitz.” What it meant, I don’t know. But I remember one day I thought I would look him up here in America. But how could I? (Laughter). You know. Since then he switched to deal, because it was in the family, one had a dealership. They made, actually, produced shirts and underwear. So my father started to deal, you know, with this kind of business. But he never made it good. And we, when we grew up, we had difficulties, you know, the younger children, because like I said, the older brothers were married. The sister married and we only received, he was taught trades. So my brother in Israel is actually a tailor. My brother after him, he actually, he makes the uppers for shoes, the, you know, the uppers for shoes. He was a very colorful young man and he went to school and was trained by _______________. I also went to the upper making course and these…the organization ORT – I took a course in making patterns.
Jacobs: Making what?
Grosswasser: Patterns, for shoes.
Jacobs: Patterns for shoes.
Grosswasser: Yes, design shoes. This is what I’m doing for thirty years.
Jacobs: But…so that was in preparation for America?
Grosswasser: Well, (laughter), not originally, no.
Jacobs: There was no longer a place for you in the cattle business, by then it was all over?
Grosswasser: Yes. Like I say, the younger, we already knew trades. Did you read, uh, Isaac, uh;
Grosswasser: Itzak Singer, his brother. The Family Moskat.
Jacobs: Yes, that’s a classic.
Grosswasser: Yes, I read it. In fact in…
Grosswasser: In English. No, I couldn’t get it in Yiddish. I read it about twenty-five years ago. You know, you can see the metamorphosis in the family. All the children, the younger children, their influence from the situation in Europe and in Poland. The influence of the Bolshevik revolution – all the Socialist, Communist movements, Zionist movements, and that is what I wanted to mention before. My older brothers, the eldest especially, was religious.
Grosswasser: Going farther, we were already modernized. And went through a modern movement. There were clashes in the family. My father wasn’t happy about this, but my father was a reader. He read even the books that we used to bring home. He was familiar, I mean, the Yiddish newspaper was always in our home. Of course, there wasn’t a Jewish house or home in Poland that you couldn’t find the Khumoshim, the five books of the Bible, you know, the Machzorim. You know what a “Makhzer” is?
Jacobs: For the holidays…
Grosswasser: For the holidays and other…when a couple marries, this was the first gift that was given them. This was in every Jewish home, of course. But in our home, you see, my older brothers were Zionists, and there was a lot of literature and books and so on. And my father was actually aware of all this, and he read, too. He was familiar with it, although he was a religious Jew, but not fanatic. I would not say he was a fanatic. I would not say he was a scholar in the Haskalah…He was not a “Maskil,” but he was touched by the Haskalah.
Jacobs: Was there a large Hasidic Jewish community there, too?
Grosswasser: Part. A part.
Jacobs: You had many varieties of Jewish people there….
Grosswasser: Yeah. They used to come. Well, my father did go every year to a Rabbi…Hasidic Rabbis. But himself wasn’t as frenzied about it as others.
Jacobs: Did he make contributions to the rebbe?
Grosswasser: Well, he used to. When he’d go, he write a kvittle…little letter and put in some money. Well, Shimon Dubnow, the Jewish historian, had a history of Hasidism….
Jacobs: Yes….In what language, did you?
Grosswasser: Mainly I read in Yiddish. In Polish. I read Russian, too, and German.
Jacobs: It’s also in Hebrew, his Toldot Hachasidut, the history.
Grosswasser: Toldot, yes, history. I know Hebrew not well. I can read well, but I understand not well because I was in Shomer Hatzair…
Jacobs: Oh, the left wing…
Grosswasser: Well, I…I told you we grew up the times were entirely different.
Jacobs: That was the Socialist Zionist group?
Grosswasser: The Socialist movement, but national….Yiddish. Shimon Dubnow says that the Hassidic movement was a positive movement. It was a time when the Jews were in a very difficult era, after Chmelnitzki. You are familiar with this? And the way he describes the Hasidic movement. He says it was a positive movement. Shabbtai Zvi and all this….these movements, they shattered the Judaism, the Jewish existence in Eastern Europe. And Hasidism, although it was in many ways the rabbis were, in fact, the “Litvish” Litvish mitnagdim, they were, they didn’t, the Litvaks they were not Hasidim at all. Against, they opposed it. But even in Eastern Europe, parts there were the Hasidim parts, supported them silently…and parts were against.
Jacobs: Even in your childhood and youth, you lived in a very substantial Jewish community, didn’t you?
Grosswasser: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Jacobs: Yeah…were there many synagogues around you?
Grosswasser: Well, they were not far.
Jacobs: And was there a Vaad? A central Jewish council?
Grosswasser: Oh, the Vaad Hoeir.
Jacobs: The Vaad Hoeir, yes. Was your father – did your father….
Grosswasser: I worked with a man – he was the council. They called it “dozzer” — now it’s, I don’t know. He was in council of the Vaad Hoeir, I think. Unfortunately, he got lost – the whole family. He was an excellent person. Before the War, he was suffering so much.
Jacobs: Before 1939?
Grosswasser: You see, he anticipated…he anticipated more than others. Rabbi, you see, the problem was…you see…the experience the Jews had from World War I…are you already taking it…what I’m saying…what I’m talking about? I don’t know…
Jacobs: Sure, sure.
Grosswasser: Oh, I didn’t know. The experience from World War I…I was born in 1914…was that the Jews had rather good memories. Worries we all got, the atrocities of war, but the relationship with the Germans, because somehow they could converse the Germans, and the Germans trusted the Jews more than the Pollocks. And they didn’t hurt anybody. So people said Mein Kampf that Hitler wrote, well, they said, “Hitler as Chancellor will behave different than Hitler as agitator.” You understand that point? When he would become Chancellor, he will behave like a mensch?
Jacobs: He’ll have national responsibility.
Grosswasser: He’ll have responsibility and this is what he says in Mein Kampf. He will never use. But that was the mistake. Like I said, that man that I worked for, his name was Oberlingorsk. He was very, very, seriously, um….
Grosswasser: No, he was…he predicted…
Jacobs: He predicted. He said Hitler was going to be Hitler, no matter what position?
Grosswasser: That’s what he said.
Jacobs: But he couldn’t sell that to his other friends on the Council?
Grosswasser: Well, so what? (laughter) Who knew? Who knew? Who could anticipate a nation like the Germans, who were regarded as a progressive nation in Europe, that they will do such atrocities?
Jacobs: As September 1939 came closer, was it not clearer and clearer that this man was right? That the Hitler before his Chancellorship in 1933 was going to do the terrible things that he promised in Mein Kampf? He had six years before the War…six years of Hitler!
Grosswasser: We had already the Nuremberg Laws.
Jacobs: In 1935?
Grosswasser: ’35. We had already the Nuremberg Laws which did, how do you say, take away many rights of the Jews in Germany. And he threw already many into concentration camps. And he did already also, many movements like the Socialist, Communists, in the concentration camps. But what could be done anyway? Now there would probably have been many Jews go to England, to Israel, but England didn’t allow to go. They only let Jews with a lot of money, 20,000 Polish Zlotys, which meant a lot of money. There were very few that could have the money – only they could go to Israel. At that time to Palestine. Palestine to go. Illegal was difficult, only, only certain…
Jacobs: Can you remember?
Grosswasser: I remember a case, I mean, my friend’s brother went, but although a few could go, they went illegally. Oh I guess if they could supply 20,000 Zlotys.
Jacobs: Yes. You remember Zionist life in your city before 1939?
Grosswasser: Oh, well, sure. In every city you had a Zionist organization, a few had, like Shomer Hatzair, Khalutz Hatzair, Betar and Allgemeine Zionist, which was…
Jacobs: You remember Gordonia?
Grosswasser: Gordonia, yes. The movement of youth.
Jacobs: Yes, all of them flourished.
Grosswasser: Well, until the War.
Jacobs: Until 1939?
Grosswasser: Hoping that one day they might go to Israel. Many were working at kibbutzim, preparing themselves to work in agriculture. The difficulties and so on.
Jacobs: What were you doing in 1939, before September?
Grosswasser: As work? Well, I worked in shoe business.
Jacobs: In the shoe business? In a factory?
Grosswasser: Well it was a factory, but I usually worked in the office.
Jacobs: Doing what?
Grosswasser: Patterns. Making patterns for shoes.
Jacobs: Oh, for the upper parts of shoes. A skill which you still employ today.
Grosswasser: Up to today, yes.
Jacobs: Up to this day.
Grosswasser: I worked in the profession for a short time in Russia – after they released me from the camp. And then after the War – I worked in Germany, at the same skill. And when I came to the States, I worked for almost thirty years.
Jacobs: And now we’re going to talk about the time when finally the Germans crossed the border. Now you were not on a border city…
Grosswasser: Not far.
Jacobs: Not far.
Grosswasser: The third day after the War they were already in…near our city.
Jacobs: The third day? September the first?
Grosswasser: September the third, the fourth, they were already near Kielce. When we hear that the German army come, comes, is coming, we didn’t know what to do. Pollocks, they, most of us didn’t know. The Jews took, they made a bundle, and they left the town. Actually, it was not organized. We didn’t know why, and…
Jacobs: Your Jewish Community Council? Your Vaad had no directions to give? Nobody knew what to do?
Grosswasser: Nobody, nobody knew what to anticipate.
Jacobs: Even those six years Hitler had been in power?
Grosswasser: Yes. We had already Kristalnight and already they know his laws and what they could actually do.
Jacobs: But you just said some Jews…
Grosswasser: So, they just bundled up and did go to the next town. And then started to think – what to do? They didn’t know, and they decided, and so we heard some people came and they said that the German army came, and they didn’t do anything. They didn’t harm anybody, so we waited another day, we went back home. I and a friend said, “We don’t go back home.”
Jacobs: Did you leave immediately? September the fourth, when the German army was at your gate, so to speak?
Grosswasser: No. The Polish government called the young people…
Jacobs: Like yourself?
Grosswasser: Yeah. They said, “All young people of military age go…move East, that we would get a hold on the German army, we will mobilize you.”
Jacobs: How old were you at that time?
Grosswasser: I was twenty-four.
Jacobs: Twenty-four. So it applied to you.
Grosswasser: Twenty-three. Yeah. So when these people came, they said that the German army came into the town and they didn’t do any harm. They don’t hurt nobody, well, most of the people went back.
Jacobs: Back home?
Grosswasser: Back home.
Jacobs: Did you?
Grosswasser: Me and a friend said we don’t go back, we go farther East.
Jacobs: You were not married?
Grosswasser: No. I had a girlfriend, though,
Grosswasser: But I was not married. Said, “Don’t go back.” And we went farther East and we came to the district city, Kielce, and the other cities were bombed and burned.
Jacobs: Before you got there?
Grosswasser: Before we got there.
Jacobs: By airplanes? By Germans?
Grosswasser: Yeah. In fact, we had a few encounters with the tanks, were shooting on us. Lay down low, under, behind some rocks or besides, behind some laid-down trees. And there were a few, few encounters we had like this. But we walked, during, before we came to a town called Siedlowice. And we got together, there were young people from everywhere. And the local, some local young men, too. And one said that he knows the area well. And during the night, he led us to a forest, a shortcut. And we made 65 kilometers in one night, um. In the dark, I see. You could only move in the nights. Because on the road they were shooting people, walking people they used to shoot down. So mainly we walked during the nights. And…
Grosswasser: Yes, eastward. We went eastward and eastward, and it took quite a few days. And we almost reached the River Bug which is by the city of Chelm. You read about the stories of Chelm, but this is the city. We came close to that city and before we reached the River Bug, the German tanks were already ahead of us. And you couldn’t cross the border. In fact, you couldn’t already get in to the town of Chelm. So we wandered around there in the woods for a day or two, and we said that we are surrounded already by the Germans. (Pause). So, in the meantime, I lost my friend.
Grosswasser: It was in the early third of fourth days. When he became before the Vistula, the river by the city of Pulavra.
Jacobs: The city of Pulavra, near the Vistula River….
Grosswasser: Yes. The Germans bombed the bridge so bad that you couldn’t cross. There were only the big iron poles laying across with…you couldn’t cross with any vehicle, cart, or cattle, or horses. You see, my friend got hurt his foot and he did get up on, some man picked him up with horses. A wagon and horses. And so he made up. I told him, “You will cross the river. And by the town of Pulavra you will wait for me and I will look f or you.” It was the only thing I could do. And then before I had reached Pulavra, the bridge was bombed. Now, on the foot you could cross somehow, I did cross, but there were so many people killed there because when the bridge was bombed, people…some people ran east and some people ran west – I mean, back and forth. There were hundreds of people laying dead. And you know, when I crossed the bridge, you could hardly make a step not walking on the dead people. Well, I spent quite a few hours looking for my friend, but I didn’t find him. So I get…got acquainted with the other people from the other towns, but from the city of Czestochowa, you maybe heard it?
Grosswasser: It’s by the Pollocks, it’s an important city. The religious, black Madonna, is in that city. They make pilgrimages every summer to go there, the Catholic Polish people. From that city he was. He was a Jewish boy. And so I lost him. But this young man, up to the Bug, like I said, we couldn’t go any father, so we decide to go back.
Jacobs: Into Poland?
Grosswasser: Yes. Of course, to Poland. And I came home exactly on the eve of Sukkos.
Jacobs: All the way to Kielce?
Grosswasser: All the way to Kielce.
Jacobs: Erev Sukkos.
Grosswasser: Erev Sukkos. Well.
Jacobs: How many miles had you actually gone? From Kielce to Bug, how many miles is that?
Grosswasser: Well that before I figured out, it was something like close to 1100 kilometers…
Jacobs: 1100 kilometers. So now you were back to square one.
Grosswasser: Now I was back at home. Well I wouldn’t make a big story. I couldn’t make peace to live with Hitler. Couldn’t make peace.
Jacobs: Whom did you find at home when you returned?
Grosswasser: Well, my brother-in-law didn’t come back. He was taken to prison. The Germans took him a prisoner-of-war. And quite a few didn’t come home, I mean, didn’t – in the neighborhood.
Jacobs: Your parents?
Grosswasser: My parents were at home. My sister moved to my parents, and she had a little child, a baby, about a year old at that time. And my other sister lived in the same city with three children. Well life was…we didn’t, we expected something, but we didn’t know what to expect. And I couldn’t make peace. I decided I couldn’t stay here.
Jacobs: Was there any work for you to do?
Grosswasser: Yes, there was work. Still the same work. But I decided I cannot stay in that atmosphere, uh, with unknown expectations. I organized, I had some friends in other cities, other towns, and I found out from some of my friends – they had a contact from the city of Cracow – and they had a lead, a man that can take across the river of Bug to the Russian side. So I organized a friend, my home town, he is now in Canada, and we went to the city, the city of Yegsheyev, Yegsheyev.
Jacobs: Near where?
Grosswasser: And we met…near..it was about 20 kilometers, 25 kilometers from us, from our city. And we met there a group, and they were, us, was two, and they were four, was six. There were four boys and a girl. The girl was the sister of one of the boys. I was, together with us, there were seven young people. Six boys and a girl. And we decided to go, to go to Cracow, get the lead, and go farther.
Jacobs: Did you have money with you?
Grosswasser: Not much. We dressed like Pollocks.
Grosswasser: The trouble was, that people were taken out of the train many times, it was not known for what, like pheasants, like Pollocks we could dress in simple, plain but practical good shoes and jackets, cause it was December. We left the date, of the 11th of December, 1939 still. We came to the station of Cracow.
Jacobs: Railroad station?
Grosswasser: Railroad station, yeah. And a man is approaching us. He was Jewish. He didn’t speak Jewish, but the only word he asked was, “Amcha?” Amcha was slang in Poland—it is “our people.” Amcha means “folk people.” You know it, I know. But he said, “Amcha?” We said, “yes.” And he spoke Polish. He said, “Do you plan to go into the city of Cracow.” And we said yes, we have to look up somebody. And he said, “Don’t, there are rumors that there will be tomorrow some…” I don’t know how to say in English…they will search people and…
Jacobs: What word were you going to use in Polish?
Grosswasser: In Polish, the way you say it would be Oblawa.
Grosswasser: You know Polish?
Grosswasser: Oblawa in Polish means searching, arresting, harassing…things like that. Well since we cannot go into the city, we decided we wouldn’t go. Three o’ clock in the night, we meant to spend the next day in Cracow, but we didn’t wait. Three ‘o clock in the night there was a train farther east, so we went. We took the train and went east. We went east as far as we could go. And we reached the town of Zanuk. It is by the river San. The river San which goes into the Bug. And on the side of San was already the Russians.
Jacobs: Ah, the Germans had not arrived yet?
Grosswasser: Oh, they were already in Zanuk. This was already December. This was already the division, the demarcation line. The Russians came all the way up to Bug. And this area was the San, the border, south. They were in the south. And the Germans were up to the Bug and up to the San.
Jacobs: At this time, the Germans and the Russians had made a treaty of friendship.
Grosswasser: The non-aggression pact, they had signed, Molotov signed with Ribbentrop a non-aggression pact. So we were in San and we were looking for somebody to take us across the river. We found a man – he said that he is a leader, a Ukrainian man. And he knows the area and then he takes over people across the river, the San. Well then it came close already, we made some dates, some preliminary dates. He came to us – we had to pay of course for this. I guess, like I say, we didn’t have money, actually, to, call it money. A watch, another had something else, not big money. But anyway…
Jacobs: How much money did it actually cost? In money? In addition to objects like rings, and…?
Grosswasser: Well I guess it amounted to something like fifty dollars.
Grosswasser: So he came and he said that he had doubts about the man, because when that man took these people across the San, that river, he made that man, that was a Jewish man…that middle man…made up with the leader that every man he takes over, he make up some sign to return to him to make sure that he takes them across the river. One has to bring back, let’s say, a button. Simple things. The other, a pen or something special. He made up to make sure that he takes across the river.
Jacobs: A sign of guarantee…
Grosswasser: A sign of guarantee, yeah. He made up with every man. And that Ukrainian man had to bring back these signs.
Jacobs: He took them across one by one?
Grosswasser: No, many groups. In groups, yes. All of our group was seven, like I said. Six boys and a girl. We kept as a group. So, but, he said that the last two times he brought back signs, but not the ones he made up, and he doesn’t trust him. So we waited a few days but we couldn’t find any other leader…We decided to go.
Jacobs: With this man?
Grosswasser: With this man. So the time came, they made up with him the signs, the signs of guarantee, or whatever they were called. And he came with a wagon, with a horse, and he took us and he drove us, and drove us into the woods, and drove us straight into the German command – in the woods!
Jacobs: The German command!?
Grosswasser: A group of German soldiers. And they scared the hell out of us. They looked for the shovels, and they said they were going to make us dig our own hole and bury us…right there. And they took away anything they could from us. And he, that, that son of a gun, that Ukrainian pretended he is a victim, like us. But we had seen that man, that middleman, was right. All right from there we got out alive. They took away not everything yet. Because they left something for their friends, for their comrades at the river, at the last post. It was a post, an address post of the Germans at the river. He led us straight into there. Over there, they took us and throw us down the basement and then the came, they beat us (laughs…pauses), half dead. They didn’t kill nobody, but beat till half dead, and took away everything we had. They ripped everything because probably were hiding and clawing and here and there. They ripped practically everything. And we were left with nothing. And then…they did chase us into the river – that was true. And they said, “Who will be the last to shoot?” And I was the last (laughter). But they didn’t shoot us. They shot into the air a rocket. No, excuse me, just shoot in the air. And if the Russians hear the shoot, they came from the East and they threw the rockets and lighted the whole area. And when the Russians caught you, they chased back the people. They didn’t want smugglers. But luckily, it took a little while till the Russians came and there were a lot of brush, tall brushes and all kinds of growth.
Jacobs: On the other side of the river?
Grosswasser: On the other side. So we bended down. When they threw the rockets, we bended down and we got into the woods. We managed to get into the woods, all wet…everything got frozen on us. It was December and that area was already cold. It was still frozen. And we didn’t know what to do. For one thing, we were afraid for the Russians – that they would catch us. So we spent the night outside, frozen, wet. All night. And then…but we didn’t wait till it got real light outside. Before it got light, we, one by one, we started to go to the village. There was a village near and one hut was away from the village and we got into the town and they let us in. And they let us dry out and we gave them something. One gave a piece of him soap or something, but nothing practical was left to give them…nothing. And they let us spend a little time and from there we went – it was a Friday – we went to the town, Lazko, over on the other side. We didn’t have any money – we didn’t have anything to eat. It was Friday, Friday night we went to the shul, (pauses) so somebody would take us home for a meal. This was the habit. And I imagine you’re familiar, Friday nights when a wanderer was in the town, most of the Jews took home for Saturday, a meal.
Jacobs: Hakhnasat Orkhim.
Grosswasser: Hakhnasat Orkhim, that’s right. My father used to do it quite often. I mean, there’s no shame.
Jacobs: Of course.
Grosswasser: We didn’t have any money, no, strangers, and I was taken home and my friend was taken home and the others apparently taken home, too. And we spent Saturday and Sunday. I, my friend, find, found work in the town. It was a small town. About, I don’t know, six, seven thousand people.
Jacobs: How many Jews?
Grosswasser: I don’t know. I was the only there one and a half day. I don’t know many details. But I left. I said I would have to go to an area where there is a leather and shoe industry. So I went to the city of Stryj. It was about 50,000 population, fifty, sixty thousand.
Jacobs: How far away?
Grosswasser: It was near Lvov, forty kilometers from Lvov. And nearby was the city of Stanislav which had many tanneries of leather.
Jacobs: How did you get there?
Grosswasser: By train. I don’t remember how I got the money to take…