Punch Me In The Stomach – Interviews – Reviews – Articles
Taped voice in blackout
Ready camera 1, Ready wide shot and roll tape
V/O of announcer:
Tonight on Town And Around We Have Mt. Roskill’s own celebrity survivor Sol Filler.
Well, Paul I came from Brzozow.
As a small boy, I used to get up early to deliver bread and rolls to various shops and to da nearby villages – we had a horse and buggy, not like today with a van.
Often my mother had to meet me with my school books when I was running late, and take the basket and da money from my hand so that I would be punctual at da school.
I remember in da winter, it was so cold, oh boy, I’d arrive at school with frozen hands and feet.
We worked very hard. So hard we often used to fall asleep in school, we were so tired. You know school dere was six days a week. I went to the public school in da morning, and den to Hebrew school, till late.
We always felt veh, how you say…aware… of being Jews dere, and da Polish kids, mostly dey hated us. We didn’t dress like dem, and we spoke Yiddish, so it made it, even more different.
When da Germans invaded some of my friends and relatives escaped across da river to da east to da Russian zone. The Russians were very cruel too, mind you, but we saw the Poles beating up Jews and hitting them on the head. We heard rumours too. We heard things. No good for Jews.
So we decided, me and my brother Tuchia and my two cousins, that Friday night late, we’d ffssshhht… cross the river into Russia. We didn’t know what else to do.
Anyhow, dat was da last night our family had shabbos meal together. It’s the only time I ever saw my father cry. He was crying. He didn’t know what was gonna happen but he knew he couldn’t protect us, if we stayed. Yeah. They knew we were leaving. My mother was shaking her head, “What will become of us.”
So, anyhow, the other shops in the town had been requisitioned, but we were lucky, we were recognized as the “official” Jewish bakery. That night we were going to run away, what happened was that a man from the Mayor’s office came to our house and told my father he needed four hundred loaves of bread by the morning. Dad said he couldn’t do it by the morning. He didn’t have enough time. The man said to him “Either you bake the bread, or I’ll shoot you myself.”
Oh dearie me, it was so terrible. Dad had barely enough flour and it was the Sabbath. He didn’t have anyone to help him and he had to get started right away. My father was so upset, he didn’t know what to do.
I said, don’t worry dad, I’ll help you.
So we worked together in da bakery all night, and the others escaped without me.
No, I didn’t go. Yes, I stayed behind to help my parents and my brother Mendl. He was young den…
…the others? No, I don’t know what happened. I never saw them again. I heard they starved to death in Siberia, but I really don’t know. My brother Tuchia used to play the saxaphone…
We were issued Jewish papers and armbands. Soon we weren’t allowed into the marketplace or da streets at all. Then the Germans shot two Jews in the marketplace, Diller and Scheinblum…. very important men. They just shot them.
Then we were issued an order to assemble in the town-whaddya call it?
Square, right exactly.
It was a Sunday, August fourth, 1942. They told all males between fourteen till thirty-five years of age had to stand to one side. My mother, I remember she was crying…she was tearing her hair, you know.
They asked us our trade. I had no trade, I was a student. Mendl was twelve. All da men with no trade were put on trucks. We were taken to Plaszow concentration camp….
All those with trades stayed behind, and the following Monday, August tenth, in da forest near Brzozow they were murdered. We found out later in Plaszow.
All the Jews in Brzozow including our parents, everybody was rounded up, taken to that forest, and killed.
Later on we were transported to Birkenau in Auschwitz. Dat day I met Mengele. He was standing selecting da people. He was asking people their trade. I thought quick, what the hell am I gonna do? So I said baker. He sent me to the left. We didn’t know it, but we were being selected for the labor camp. I pulled Mendl with me quick. Alot of the people from my town were selected for the gas chambers. There were twenty-five thousand of us on the trucks, only fifty of us made it through dat day, and most of them were dead within a month. That left maybe ten of us, including me and Mendl. We were lucky.
I think I survived because I was young, and fit and because I was determined to live to take my revenge after the war. I don’t feel that way any more of course. You’ve gotta get on with your life! Not everyone was as determined as we were. Also, it sounds funny, but you had to keep your sense of humour.
I remember the first night in the camp dere in Birkenau. There were eight of us to one bunk and we were like sardines squashed like dat- One chappee on da feet. And we’d say turn…(Gesture) and everybody had to turn at the same time. We laughed! We had to. What else could you do? We laughed the whole first night in Auschwitz.