Manya Auster Feldman

"To be vigilant of bad people who are trying to harm humanity.  A Hitler can still arise again.  Be alert.  Remain with your faith.  Pass on the story of the Holocaust and educate the youth."

Name at birth
Manya Barman
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Name of father, occupation
Berl, Merchant
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Sonia Krawczyk, Storekeeper
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and five children: Leah, Yidl, Esther, Frieda and me
How many in entire extended family?
Overall about 100; five uncles each with five children
Who survived the Holocaust?
Two cousins: Elimelech and Yichiel (Who were also Partisans), and myself
I was born in 1923 and raised in a small town, Dombrowica, Poland.  Poland was divided in 1939 by Germany and Russia.  In 1941, at the outset of WWII, the Germans put us into a ghetto of about 3000 Jews, into a very small area in the town.

The living conditions were terrible; forced labor, no food, very small rations of bread daily.  In 1942, when the ghetto was destroyed, my father, brother, sister and I managed to escape into the forest.  It was summer, and we managed to survive by eating potatoes, which we dug up in farmer’s fields, or in the fall and winter, we begged from the inhabitants of the villages.

At the outset of 1942, a partisan movement was beginning to organize in the dense forests of the Ukraine and White Russia.  It was started by a man, a former partisan of WWI, his name was Kovpac.  Together, with a few Russians, the partisans were dropped from parachutes into the forests, for the sole purpose of organizing people who would fight against the German army while they were advancing their army into Russia.  People were escaping from the Prisoner of War camps, Jews were running from slaughter camps, from ghettos, being led to be killed.

These escaping soldiers, Jews, inhabitants of villages threatened to be killed were organized into groups of partisans who were fighting the German Army on the way, occupying Poland, Ukraine, and Russia.  They were fighting at the beginning, practically without ammunition, tearing up railroad tracks, and killing Germans on the way to the front lines.  These partisan leaders sent out scouts to mobilize more people into the partisan ranks.  At such a point, we were able to join the partisans at the end of 1942.

I attended to sick people.  My sister, brother and father took part in destroying the German convoys on their way to the front lines.  Due to the lack of ammunition, accumulation of wounded partisans, we had to find a way of solving the problem.  We were lucky to come across a huge, frozen lake where we were able to create a landing spot for airplanes arriving at night, without lights.  We accomplished solving our problems, and right about then I contracted typhoid fever and was separated from the group.  They continued their fighting and marching all the way to the Carpathian Mountains where they lost all of their group leaving them with 1500 people out of the original 3500.  I went on to join another group of partisans, 120 Jews, all escaped from the ghetto.

We were doing the same type of fighting as before, also subjected to losses and sicknesses.  While I was sick with Typhoid, I had amnesia for about two weeks during which time I lost connection with my group, and fell into the hands of fighting Germans against our outfit.   I was lucky that I didn’t know what was going on around me, and also, that this particular group of German soldiers were not SS.  Again, I escaped death and stayed in the forest until we were liberated in June, 1944.  The rest of my family perished while fighting the Germans in the Carpathian Mountains.

After the war ended in 1945, the American government established Displaced Person (DP) Camps, where we stayed for two years.  I met my husband, Herman Auster there, and we were able to immigrate to the United States.  We came to Detroit in 1950 with our 13 month old son, Barry.  I went to Midrasha (Hebrew College) for five years and became a Hebrew teacher.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Where were you in hiding?
In the forests of Eastern Poland with the Partisans
Occupation after the war
Hebrew Teacher
Herman Auster, Meat business
Barry Auster, dermatologist Steve Auster, child psychiatrist
Four granddaughters: Erica, Elana, Rachel, Julia and one great-granddaughter, Elli
What do you think helped you to survive?
Just plain luck and my youth which helped me to endure the difficult period of the Holocaust.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
To be vigilant of bad people who are trying to harm humanity.  A Hitler can still arise again.  Be alert.  Remain with your faith.  Pass on the story of the Holocaust and educate the youth.

Charles Silow
Interview date:
To learn more about this survivor, please visit:
The Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, University of Michigan

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