In June, 1941, German planes began bombing the train station at Rovno. The German army came about a week later. The first line of the army did not bother us. The Ukrainians in Gruscwice organized a new city administration and oversaw new rules for the Jews.
Instead of sending the men to the ghetto in Rovno, they were convinced by the elders of the village to have the Jewish men stay and work for the Ukrainian farmers for free. This continued for a year and a half until a date was set for the liquidation of the Jews. Our family decided it was time to go into hiding.
Each person in our family went to a different place. I went with my father to his Ukrainian friend. My mother went to a Czech family in Dombruwka and my brother went to a friend of his. He came back to us after a few weeks. We stayed in a storage barn in the middle of a field. Our uncle Chaim and then my mother joined us. Our uncle wanted us to split up again, but my mother would not hear of it.
We were found out on Christmas day 1941 by the owner of the farm, Vasily, but he told us not to worry, he would keep our secret. The family decided to move out that night because they did not trust Vasily. Although Vasily had been nice to us, he was known to be pro-German and politically active so we went on to a large farm estate in Gruscwice.
The man in charge of the herd of pigs, Mr. Stach helped us by giving us potatoes and water. He would send his helpers away early each evening and bring the food at the end of the day when he fed the pigs for the last time. He let us stay in the attic of the pigsty which was covered with straw and had a very low ceiling. We stayed there for seven months. The Ukrainians came and were going to burn down the farm, so we left and went to another farm owned by a Czech family.
We stayed in the pigeon cove of a business associate of my father’s, Mr. Zummer. We were there in the hot summer with pigs below us. Mrs. Zummer would bring us vegetable soup once a day for nourishment. We stayed there for six weeks when we found out that Mr. Zummer had betrayed another family and they were all murdered. We left and went to another village called Martinowka. For two months we hid in a stack of straw and begged people in the village who we knew and trusted for food. We were found out and had to leave.
We ended up four houses away from our family home in a shelter provided to us by our neighbor, Mr. Szczasny. We stayed below a pigsty in a small room. We had very little space, it was like solitary confinement, but we had not other choice. We stayed there for seven months.
In February, 1944, the Russians came. We were able to leave our hole and go back to our house. There was a Ukrainian family living there and they told us it was their house. The soldiers said that we should go to Rovno, it would be safer for us. We hitchhiked to Rovno and saw the looted and destroyed homes. Rovno had been a Jewish city before the war. So there was no one there to protect the property. We found a house to stay in.
My father had a sister in Detroit who contacted us. She sent some money and arranged for us to come to the United States. We arrived in Detroit in June, 1947. I was 12 years old.