- Videotape testimony of Josef S., who was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1930, the third of six children. He recalls his family's orthodoxy; attending cheder and public school; antisemitic harassment; German invasion in September 1939; cessation of schooling; smuggling goods with his sister and mother to support the family; ghettoization; smuggling food into the ghetto; his youngest sister's death from illness; his illness due to starvation; an aunt assisting his recovery; hospitalization for typhus; learning of his parents' deaths upon release; his youngest brother's death; he and his sisters continuing to smuggle food with assistance from non-Jews; brief imprisonments when he was caught; avoiding a major deportation in July 1942; escaping days later; efforts with his two sisters to throw food to their sister in the ghetto (they never saw her again); living in the attic of a Polish woman; separating from his sisters, although occasionally meeting; living with Polish children on the street, posing as a non-Jew; sleeping in fields, basements, and attics; a Polish woman offering to shelter him, his sisters, and their friends (she knew they were Jews); paying blackmailers; visiting the ghetto during Passover 1943; escaping before the ghetto uprising; leaving for a village as it became more dangerous even outside the ghetto; continuing to pay blackmailers; sleeping in a park with his sisters; separating from them to work on a village farm as a cowherd; learning Catholic prayers and hymns; moving when suspicions were aroused; selling bread to Soviets and Italians in a prisoner of war camp; and constantly changing locations.
Mr. S. recounts returning to Warsaw; selling black-market cigarettes with other street boys, Jews and non-Jews; contacts with Joseph Ziemian; playing soccer with Hitler Youth; attending church; Ziemian providing him with false papers; brief imprisonment; Ziemian connecting him with the Polish underground; traveling outside Warsaw to obtain food to sell; observing German executions of random Poles in retaliation for resistance activities; working in German kitchens during the Polish uprising; liberation by Soviet troops; traveling to Lublin; assistance from the Joint; returning to Warsaw, then to Lublin; assistance from the Red Cross; placement in an orphanage; antisemitic violence; observing hangings of German officers after the Majdanek trials; transfer to an orphanage in Łódź; joining a group to emigrate to Palestine; Beriḥah moving them in September 1945 to Landsberg, Föhrenwald, then Leipheim displaced persons camps; training for emigration; assistance from the Joint and UNRRA; departure for Palestine in April 1947; British interdiction of their ship; incarceration in Cyprus; release to Palestine; his sisters' arrivals; marriage to a survivor; and their births of their children. Mr. S. discusses survivors always sharing their experiences with each other and singing songs from the ghettos and camps; reunions of the cigarette sellers and Ziemian's book about them; nightmares resulting from his experiences; Israelis shaming them; and sharing his experiences with his daughter.
- S., Josef, 1930-
- Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1993 and 1994
- Interview Date
- December 13, 1993, and January 18, February 1, March 8, and 10, 1994.
- Cite As
- Josef S. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3653). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
This testimony is in Hebrew.
Related publication: The cigarette sellers of Three Crosses Square / Joseph Ziemian ; translated from the Polish by Janina David. -- Minneapolis : Lerner Publications Co., c 1975, c1970.