Menachem was one of those people who shared their story with me. Born in 1928 in Warsaw, he was the oldest in a very religious family. His is an extraordinary story, of life in the ghetto, living under a false identity, surviving a labor camp, joining with partisans in the woods towards the end of the war. His memoir was recently published.
When he spoke with me (in 2003), he shared a story of his time in the Warsaw Ghetto. Because he was small, he used to sneak through small spaces in the ghetto wall. One day he snuck out to get some food from a village:
We used to have a grover, so the person used to deliver to us groceries. He lived in a town, a village about forty miles from Warsaw. So I went there and I took some food; bread, potatoes, etc. But when I came back to my apartment, our apartment, I couldn’t find nobody. So I asked… where are all the people. It’s not just my family, all the people around… well, the S.S. — they came and they took away everyone. But, first, they took the men, and later they took the women and the children.
I was asking around, do you know where…? what…? Because I never expected this to happen. But nobody knew where. And, of course, since then I have never seen… haven’t seen anybody. We had a family, about 200 people from our family living in Warsaw. And I couldn’t find nobody. So I went to the place where my family used to live — uncles, cousins, and I could find also nobody. So, I… this was, I would say, 1940, 1941, so I stayed there because I didn’t know what to do..