Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sonia Bajcz Diamond: The Ending of the War (Part 7: 1944-1945)

This is the seventh in a series that summarize an interview of my grandmother, Sonia Bajcz/Beitch Diamond (then Sara Bajcz), from about 20 years ago.  This continues her story after the Germans retreated from the Wolyn area and the Russians came in, and then as the war truly came to an end.  Previous posts in this series are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

We soon came to the village where my husband had left his brother and sister.  His sister had left to Lutsk, but his brother was there.  I left to find my mother.  She was still with the man who had taken care of her the whole time.

Soon after a Russian soldier saw me walking and was trying to catch me.  I hid in a special bunker that a lady had.  I told the lady after who said, "Didn't you go through enough already?"

I took my mother along with a lot of Ukrainians, and we went to Lutsk by foot, since there was no place for us in the village.  The war was not yet over, and we were still in danger.  We got a room and lived there.  My husband came there, too.  But that year he was drafted into the Russian army, and they were first sent to Vladimir-Volynsk.  I followed and took cigarette paper to be able to sell for some rubles.
I remained in the city to sell that paper, and I was caught and arrested by the KGB.  They interrogated me.  Everyone else went to lunch, and only one agent was left.  It turns out he was Jewish, so he took some of the paper to show that he had punished me.  He told me to run away and not get in trouble again or he wouldn't be able to help.

After the army left Vladimir-Volynsk, my future husband was sent to the front near the River Bug; he was in the First Ukrainski Front.  There they met Eisenhower's army.  They were in Prague, and then they went back to not far from Lvov and Stanislow in a place called Kamionka Strumilowa (now Kamianka-Buzka) where there was a large Russian base.  I secretly received a letter.  It was written with milk, so I had to hold it up to the light.  It said where he was stationed and that I should come and meet him.

My husband was wounded in battle.  His brother was sent to Siberia and wrote us letters from there.  His sister got married in Poland in January 1945; I was at her wedding.

Everybody wanted to leave to Poland, and they were saying that people were going to Palestine from Poland.  We were Polish citizens.  But my husband was in the army.  I went there to visit him a few times, and I brought some goodies for the officers, and they got to know me.  I told him one time that we all were leaving, so he must leave the army.  But he was afraid to go AWOL.  So on the black market, I got papers with his name on my papers saying that I'd found a brother.  And one day I saw him coming without a rifle or ammunition.  He had decided to take my offer--he had 6 days' furlough, and there was a train in 3 days from Lutsk to Poland.  But the train didn't leave for 12 days. The very day we left, they sent soldiers to find him, but we had just gotten out in time.  It was an open train, and it rained into the train.

We stopped in Krakow and Katowice.  His sister heard people talking--"If I find a Jew, I'll kill him here and now!"  This was after the war in 1945.  You can imagine how scared we were on that train.  There were many people killed after the war.

We were in Balbzhich(?), and we'd commute to Gliwice to buy things and resell them.  We were just trying to support ourselves for food and rent.  Then we heard that a group was going to cross the border and would go to Germany, and from there they were going to the United States and to Palestine.  That night, I hurt my back and was in terrible pain.  I became almost paralyzed.  My husband was upset that I was holding them back.  But that night the whole group was caught and killed.

Our wedding was in November 1945.  My husband brought a dress from the army, and someone gave me a scarf.  There was a chupah, and we were married by a survivor Rabbi from Warsaw.  Mazal tov, we were married.  No pictures, nothing.  But my son made us a beautiful 25th anniversary party.  My wedding was attended by my husband's sister and brother-in-law, two couples who now live in Baltimore--one was Chana Pateka and her husband and the others were Wolf and Raza Pateka who is a cousin to my brother-in-law, and my mother.  We were married in the city of Gliwice which was then in Oberschlesien, Germany and is today in Poland.

Coming up: Life in the DP Camps

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