Golda's Stories of the Holocaust
Part I - Time
Section 3 – The Working Camp
Chapter 7 - In the cement factory
The Germans capture me, decide to execute me, but I trick them.
One woman, Frimchu Goldstein, requested from me to bring a package to a gentile named Lehman. He had in the city a factory of concrete products. At the same opportunity, another woman requested that I will go to be informed about her son, who was placed by the gentiles, and see that if he needs money, I will give it to them.
Usually I went out for such operations being disguised as a young man, dressed in man's clothes. For that need I had short hair and adapted manly language and manners. The clothes belonged to my brother Benjamin. These were expensive clothes and we sold them one by one. Eventually I was left without any manly cloth to wear. I had my pretty coat. I dressed properly like a girl and went out for action.
I went out this time not in the night but in the morning. It was Sunday morning, about a month before Passover. I arrived at the yard in which the boy had to be resided, and didn't found anyone. The house was closed. I entered the neighbors to ask. There was a cobbler's workshop over there. A family was there: a man, a woman and a young guy around age twenty.
They said that this family moved out from the place and they don't know to where, and where is the boy. I said to them: "Thank you very much" and went out to the street.
Apparently the family members decided between themselves that I am a Jew.
The guy went out after me. He shouted to all over: "Jude! Jude! Jude! Jude! Jude!"
There was in the street a patrol of two Germans from the garrison. Except of them the street was totally empty of people. The street was so quiet, that I heard them going.
Earlier, I felt, that this family suspects that I am a Jude, because they whispered between them: "Jude, Jude".
Therefore, when he shouted, I pretended that it's not intended for me. I went on walking pretty calm.
But I saw that the Germans are running after me, and I started to go a little more quickly, pretty quickly.
This was not far away from the factory of Mr. Lehman. I knew that behind the factory there is a road to the forests. I thought that I will find a short cut and run away.
I went to the gate and knocked on it as hard as I could.
The guard approached, and I requested from him desperately: "Open for me! Rescue me! Open for me! Rescue me!"
At first he didn't want, but lastly he opened it.
They started to beat me forcibly.
They asked: "From where are you? What do you have in the package?"
I apologized: "I am from the saw-mill. I went to panhandle from house to house. I collected several things, in order to have for us something to wear in the camp, because we don't have".
They didn't believe that I am from our camp. They thought that I am a spy from the partisans. They beat me very hard. I was very strong, and didn't fear from it. But I sensed that here will be my end.
They promised: "Tell us from where is the package, and we shall not beat you any more and shall release you".
I said to them once again: "I am from the saw-mill".
They insisted: "You are from the partisans".
They beat me strongly more and more, and in the course repeated on their promise: "If you will discover us from where is the package, we will release you".
I wasn't able to overcome more of the distress, and told them lastly whose it.
Mr. Lehman, when he saw me with the Germans, almost fainted. I was well-known in our town. My father was an honorable man, and in certain time was head of the Jewish council. We had a furniture store in the main street, and everybody respected us.
Mr. Lehman organized five gentiles from the town:
One lived opposite us. He was the shopkeeper of "Bata's shoes", a very honorable man.
Second was the pharmacist, the owner of the pharmacy, who also was our neighbor.
Third was the senior priest of the city, Parola, who was a very nice man.
Fourth was a house owner who had a Perfumery.
The Fifth was also an honorable gentile.
They were some of the most honorable people in the town, credible and pure for Poland, and without filth in their heart.
They started to talk with the Germans: "It is not worth for you to do a business from this girl. She came just to request several things, in order to have in the camp what to wear, and that is all".
They collected between them one Hundred thousand Zlotys. They wanted to give the money to the soldiers, in order that they will let me return to the camp.
The soldiers came and knocked powerfully with their rifles on the gate. The keeper opened for them, and they caught me.
Me they locked in a room separately. All the windows of the room were closed and coverd with flowerpots, in a way that it wasn't possible to move them in order to jump from the window.
About every ten minutes entered the room alone one of the Germans and beat me.
They beat me in the face and in the back very strong hits. So many hits, that I already got used to them, and did not cry.
Now and then, when it was possible, one of the gentiles entered the room and updated me with the situation: "Listen, we want to give to them one Hundred thousand Zlotys, in order that they will release you, but they don't want. We do all the efforts. You know which trouble will come on us if they will surrender you to the Gestapo. The Germans will kill in the town ten gentiles, because we gave help to the Jews. But they do not want, under any circumstances, to release you. They are very bad, and nothing helps us".
When they caught me it was eleven o'clock in the morning. The situation continued until ten minutes before eight o'clock in the evening. With the beating, the trouble, the fear and without food. With the honorable gentiles who liked me, and made an effort to do me a favor. But the Germans did not want anything, except to surrender me to the Gestapo.
In ten to eight came one German to the room, and brought me a bowl of food. In the bowl where quite a big portion of potatoes' puree, and above it an omelet of two eggs. He brought also a big glass of vodka.
He ordered me: "I want you to eat now, and not be hungry, because at 8 o'clock we are going to kill you".
I do not know the accurate reason for the decision to kill me. Apparently the gentiles decided between themselves that instead of handing me over, it is preferable that they will kill me themselves, and so they will have quiet.
I raised the glass vigorously, and called in contempt: "I drink this glass in order that we shall be released from the suffering that we have from you"!
At the moment that he heard this, the German started to beat me hard blows.
I apologized: "What? Why do you beat me? I wanted to wish that the war will be over. That there will not be a war anymore, and we shall not suffer".
He stopped to beat me and told me in anger: "Eat"!
I wasn't able to eat, but he forced me to finish.
To the room entered once more the gentile from "Bata's", Globatski.
He whispered to me hastily: "Amiable, nice girl. We did all the efforts in order to rescue your life, but they did not agree. I say to you - escape! Run for your soul!"
At 8 o'clock the Germans ordered me: "Go out! Take with you also the package!"
I had in the pocket the money that I wanted to deliver for the boy, on which they didn't know.
They took me through fields straight to the forest.
All the time one of them held a gun and aimed it to me.
At the time that they lead me to the forest, they investigated: "What does your father do? Where do you hide your money? Where did you live? Were you rich? We will not kill you. Tell us".
I answered: "We are poor. We had nothing. My father is a carpenter, worked in carpentry, not more than that. We don't have money, and we don't have a cache".
We entered the forest, and the moment of execution arrived.
Suddenly, a short delay occurred.
They started to debate who will shot me actually.
One said: "You will be the man who will kill her"!
The other answered: "No, you will kill her"!
They argued three times.
I got an inspiration. I remembered from life, that anybody who is going to be executed has one last request. No one is unwilling to refuse it, because this is the last moment.
I requested from them: "I want to pee".
They permitted me in arrogance:"Please, do what you want".
I made myself ashamed from them. I was dressed in a girl's coat, and held the package. I had to raise the heavy coat and to lower the trousers and the underpants. For about five minutes I acted as if I am ashamed. I want, and simply am embarrassed.
They felt my bashfulness. So they went aside and turned their heads. As they turned, I grasped myself with all my forces, and ran into the forest.
They reacted immediately, and shot after me. The balls whistled around me. But I was courageous and strong and I received an upper force, in spite of being after Typhus disease. I didn't run straight, but in zigzag. I escaped deep to the heart of the forest, where the Germans had never approached.
From so much running I fell down, without ability to stand. I hid under a pine tree. I closed the branches on me and froze. I folded myself like a ball, a fist. Even pee I did there seating, and did not move from the tree.
In the night I wanted to hear partisans go, thiefs, or people speak. But over the night, entirely folded under the tree, I didn't hear but several foxes whine: "Hu hu, hu, hu, hu, hu".
At dawn I wanderd: "What is this? Partisans didn't come, theives didn't come. I am alone in the forest. I will not get along here alone. I will return back to the camp. I know the way. I have there a father and mother, and there isn't something better for me".
But I feared to return the same way I came. I chose a direction through another forest. I had to cross also the river Kamiena, a big river.
The time was early in the morning. I crossed swimming the Kamiena. The clothes were in a bunch on my head, in order that they will not get wet.
Later I continued to walk. I crossed a gentile's cemetery and a Jewish cemetery. When I arrived at the main road, where there were not any more forests and fields and inhabited area, I took off my shoes and walked barefoot.
In all the roads, night and day, there were constant patrols of soldiers' quades from the garrison. I was cautious. When they were near me, I hid in the roadside until they passed. When they walked in my direction, I followed them. In this way I arrived to the camp.
Our camp had a fence in a height of six meter. When I exited to the night actions, I had never a problem to pass over it. I used to climb it and jump. Nothing, even once, happened to me. I was agile and skillful. I was athletic a little, and jumps were not a problem for me.
When I arrived at that night, I climbed on the fence with the remainder of my forces and jumped to the camp. I was already in the camp, and I needed to arrive to the dwellings, a distance of kilometer. But I wasn't able to go. I wasn't able to stand. I wasn't able to do anything. I was totally exhausted.
Lying, I crawled with my hands, and overcame slowly the great distance, until I arrived close to the dwellings.
Around the dwellings there was a fence of one meter. I wasn't able to pass it. I wasn't able to climb over this little fence and enter. I wasn't able to stand at all.
Suddenly, I saw someone familiar descends the staircase from the second floor of one of the buildings, and go to the facilities. This was laser Weksler, who was a carpenter and worked at our workshop before the war.
I whispered, trembling entirely, unable to talk, in a faint voice: "Laser, Laser, it's me, Laser".
He, when he saw me on the ground, crossed the fence and took me in his arms. My head dropped back from the fatigue.
He shouted with astonishment: "Golda'le, you are alive?! Every body said that you were killed, Golda'le".
I whispered: "I am alive, I am still alive, Laser".
He took me in his arms and brought me to my dormitory.
The entire dormitory was in a deep sleep, except my father. He sat, dressed in a pajama, on a long bench. His high boots were beside him.
Laser brought me and suddenly shouted, awakening everybody: "Golda'le is alive, Golda'le is alive!"
Everyone in the place was awakened at once.
My father took a boot, and wanted to throw it on me.
Laser stopped him, begging: "Rabbi Yeheskel, don't beat her, Golda'le is alive".
Thereafter the dwellers put me in my bed.
We had to go to work in seven o'clock in the morning. Somehow, with the little strength left in me, I dressed in work clothes and went down in time.
I stood in my post, beside my working table, as if nothing happened. I left on Sunday morning, and returned on Monday morning. On Sunday nobody worked in the factory, except special workers.
But the gentiles, on the same day that I was caught and there were efforts to save my life, informed it to Novak the bastard, our cruel foreman. Gentiles from the entire city, who knew that I'm going to be killed, told him.
Novak, immediately when he saw me at work, approached me and asked angrily: "How are you here? We heard that you were killed".
I answered numbly: "I am here".
He beat me hard blows and shouted: "Who do you think you are? You want that the Germans will kill you!? I can kill you too"!
On this day my face was black and shapeless. Only the eyes could be seen in it, nothing more. I was in such a hard condition.
He barked: "Go upward. We shall settle the account later".
He let me go to the dwellings, in order that no one will see me. Everybody spoke on me.
I brought back the money, but I left the package in the forest. Frimchu Goldstein did not tell me that there was in it a big diamond. She attacked me with the question: "Where is the package?"
I Told her what happened to me.
She did not believe that I had a day and night so hard, and insulted me explicitly: "You were all night with guys, and therefore came so thin. Yes, you did who knows what with guys all night, returned broken and found an excuse".
Tying hard to remain calm, I answered: "Frimchu, the war will be over, and we have at home a hiding-place with valued things. After the war I will return it. You don't believe me? You don't have to now. I can not run away. My heart is open fully for you to see the truth. You can believe me".
A Day later Lehman came to Novak. He came after that the entire city already heard that I am alive. They were friends a little, and he came to tell by himself what happened.
I saw Novak goes to the office and Lehman with him. Later they called Frimchu. Lehman told her what happened to me, and how the big failure happened.
She asked for my forgiveness thousand times: "Golda'le, Golda'le. Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me. Everything that you told us is true. I ask for your forgiveness because I humiliated you ".
I answered calmly: "Frimchu, if we shall live, I will give it back to you. We have a treasure in our house. Thank god, I am still alive".
I recovered and returned to work.
One day, after two weeks, I saw one of the Germans that wanted to kill me, come to the camp and enters directly to the office. The factory had big windows, and we could see all the time who arrives and who goes out. I immediately left the place and hid myself.
He entered the factory, stood in front each and every one and observed the faces. Golda Shaier looked like me slightly. She was tall and brunette like me, but with a different face.
He clung to her and said: "you are the one who ran from me in the forest. You ran from me in the forest"!
He had a big rifle on his shoulder.
She answered frightened: "What do you want from me? What? I work. I did not do anything".
He attacked her with shouts: "You ran from me in the forest"!
She did not overcome it. She was not guilty. She got scared and called Novak: "Look, what does he wants from me? He doesn't let me work".
The soldier asked from Novak to inspect with him once again the factory, in order to see all the people. They checked quickly, and left.
There was there a young Jewish guy, whom his father, form the time that we were still outside the ghetto, was an informer on Jews. He was telling them who butcher a cow, who has money, and the like.
The Germans came always after the informing and demand: "Give us money! You, because you butchered a cow. You, because you bake bread. You, at your place there are eggs ".
Finally the Germans killed the father. But the garrison soldiers knew also the young guy, and were with him in good relations. They used to visit him often.
The German went to him and said:" Listen, I want to see the girl who ran away from me. I will give her two big Vodka bottles. I will not do anything to her. I want just to see her, nothing more".
The idiot started to shout in the camp: "Golda! Golda! Golda! The German wants to give you two Vodka bottles as a gift, and only to see you, nothing more. Please leave the hiding-place".
I, as if I do not exist, did not answer him.
I hid myself for two hours, until Lunch brake time. The people came to lunch, and I went out from the hiding-place.