BASIC INFORMATION
What is your first name?
Beth

How old are you?
26

How do you feel about participating in this project?
I am very excited about this project - I think it is important for others to learn about the Holocaust.

How many people are in your family?
I have a large family - 3 uncles and an aunt on my father's side, with 11 cousins. On my mother's side I have 4 cousins and one aunt and one uncle.

What is your ethnicity?
I am Jewish.

Were any of your relatives involved in the Holocaust? How did you feel when you found out your own family was involved?
My grandfather's family, on my father's side, was involved in the Holocaust. My great-grandparents were killed and my great-uncle was killed. My grandfather was luckily able to escape from Poland in 1938.

Are there any Holocaust survivors in your family?
All those who survived got out of Poland in the 1930s; those who stayed in Poland were killed.

Were any family friends involved in the Holocaust?
Many of my grandfather's friends were survivors of the Holocaust. The majority of his friends were immigrants.


MORE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS (personal and optional questions)

Please describe your family before WWII. What are their names? (you may use pseudonyms) What did they do for a living? Where did they live?
My grandfather lived in a small town called Goniodz, in Poland. The closest city is Bialystock. My great-grandfather, Jacob, sold seltzer water. He and his wife, Olga, had five kids. They were very poor. There were three boys, Aaron, Herschel, and Bernard, my grandfather, who was the youngest. The two girls were Fruma and Rachel.

How did your family react when Adolf Hitler came into power? Did they notice the loss of their rights? What happened in those years after the Nazi party came to power?
Before Hitler even came to power, anti-Semitism was a huge problem in Poland. There's a reason the Nazis built the majority of the death camps there. My grandfather told the story about how a Polish army officer would beat him up often when he was young because he was a Jew. My grandfather knew that life in Poland for Jews was dangerous - and growing even more dangerous as time passed. The two girls, caught up in the Jewish nationalist movement of Zionism, moved to Palestine in the 1930s. Two of the boys went to America. My great-uncle Aaron came over to America first, because a cousin had come over and paid for his passage. Aaron made some money and came back to Poland to bring his brother, Herschel, back to America with him. Herschel wanted to go to Palestine, so he declined the offer. My grandfather, although he was only 16, spoke up and said that he wanted to come instead. So, Aaron brought Bernard over in 1938, not even a year before the Nazis invaded Poland. Aaron saved his life.

By the time the Nazis invaded Poland, all children but Herschel had left. Herschel was waiting to get his visa to move to Palestine, but the British (who were in charge) were letting in VERY few Jews, so he wasn't able to do so by the time the Nazis invaded and all hope was lost.

Did any of your family members go into hiding? If so, where, and with whom?
When they rounded the Jews of Gondiodz up to be taken away, they made them come to the town square with all of their belongings. While they were standing there, some non-Jewish friends of Herschel told him that if he was able to get them some money, they'd be able to hide him. He was able to sneak back to his house, which he had left just a few hours earlier, to get some money that he had stashed away. He walked in the door to find that people had already moved in, and they shot him on the spot.

Did any of your family members enter into the camp system? Which camp? Which country? Which family member(s)?
My great-grandparents were murdered in the death camp of Treblinka, in Poland. There wasn't really a "system" with Treblinka. You basically got off the train and went into the gas chambers. There are virtually no survivors.

Have you ever visited any of the defunct Holocaust camps as part of a museum tour group?
Yes, when I was a senior in high school, I went on a program called "The March of the Living." We visited Treblinka (there's nothing there but a memorial), Auschwitz, and Majdanek. We also visited Warsaw and Krakow, as well as smaller Jewish towns. It was a very difficult trip for me. You see the life that was lost - Jews were a large part of Poland for hundreds of years. At Majdanek, the gas chambers and ovens are still intact. There is a pit of ashes the size of a building. And rooms and rooms filled with shoes, eyeglasses, hairbrushes, suit-cases. It's chilling.

How did you get your knowledge of this event? Through interviews? Family stories? Something different?
My grandfather had a friend from Goniodz who survived the war and told him what happened to his brother and his parents. There is also a story about the destruction of Goniodz, as told through those who survived.

How is it that your family ended up in America? Why did they decide to move here?
My grandfather's passage to America was sponsored by his brother. He came over when he was 16 years old, by himself

How do you think Germans who disagreed with the Nazi party felt about being forced into their own actions?
They must have felt incredibly helpless, although I think that if enough of them had spoken up, or put their foot down, things would not have gotten so out of control.

How does your family feel about America's involvement in the Holocaust? Do you bear any resentment towards Americans for not becoming involved sooner?
I admit that I do bear some resentment towards the American government for not getting involved sooner, or for not bombing the train tracks to Auschwitz when they could have (for example). I feel the same resentment towards them for not taking action today in Darfur. Silence is assent, and when we can do something, we should!!

Can you possibly imagine why this event happened?
Ignorance and long-standing hatred. This did not happen overnight - hatred and killing of Jews happened in Europe for centuries, although never on this scale.