German Occupation

Formation of the Horodenka Ghetto

"There were atrocities all around."

"Well, the first week that they were there, they erected eight gallows in the city center and just randomly selected eight Jews and hanged them. They came to the Jewish synagogue and trashed it, burned the Torah scrolls and the prayer books, and the Rabbi who lived nearby, they forced him to dance for them. There were atrocities all around. Then started the edicts now-- all the things Jews can or cannot do, and we had to wear a white arm band with the Star of David on our arm... This was not a badge of shame for us. We loved that symbol and today it graces the flag of Israel, the free Jewish state.

The orders were, all men from the ages of fourteen, I think, to sixty had to register for forced labor... Jewish children cannot go to school, and I happened to live right next door to my Polish public school and when some of my non-Jewish classmates passed by, I ran to my mother and said 'Why can’t I go? I was a pretty good student.' I was a well behaved kid. She just couldn’t explain that. Not only her children couldn’t go to school, but she couldn’t teach as well, something she loved to do as well.

But day after day more orders were issued. All Jews must… No Jewish doctors and lawyers could practice. Jews could not enter stores, Jews cannot socialize with Christians. All gold and silver and furs had to be turned over to the German authorities, and that really got me very angry. I had a little fur muff and it had a little fur collar on my coat and I had to rip it off so they could not freeze in the Russian winter there...

Then in October of that year, they formed a ghetto in our town. There were a few narrow streets in the Jewish section of town and we moved to my grandmother’s house. And there’s one thing I remember. A horse-drawn wagon came to pick up a few of our possessions, I took my little kitten and my mother said, 'Put her down; you can’t take her with you.' And I asked 'Well, why not?' She said, 'Well, there won’t be enough food in the ghetto.' I was in total shock. What do you mean not enough food for a tiny little cat? It didn’t take long to realize how right she was. The ghetto was closed; starvation and hunger raged."