USF Libraries | Special & Digital Collections | Exhibits

Hiding in Poland, Part II

John Rinde, Holocaust Survivor

You know, in the mornings everybody, of course, was downstairs. We just woke up and we had breakfast, and nobody was too keen to go to their respective hiding places. And my father was supposed to come back from a trip, and he was late. So my mother says, "Go out and have a look and see if he's coming." And I come out and there is a Gestapo truck coming up and stopping in front of the house. So, I run in and tell them the Gestapo’s here. Everybody went into a panic, locked the door, and everybody starts climbing to the attic. Normally, when they were in hiding they would pull the ladder so there would be no inkling that there was anything there, but they didn't have time to do that. And the foot was still hanging out when they start banging at the door.

So, my mother took her time to get to the door, and the Gestapo—they are looking for somebody; somebody gave them the wrong address. Luckily, my mother didn't speak German too well, so with her broken German they—and we had, you know, chickens; we were like real Catholics in the countryside, so we were raising chickens and ducks and we had little chickens running around the house. So, anyway, we kind of looked okay, so they left us alone: didn't search the house, (laughs) luckily.

I had to go to school. I had to—the religious instruction was compulsory, to study catechism. I had to go to church every Sunday. I had to go to first communion. When Christmas came, we had to have a Christmas tree with all the ornaments and stuff and then have gifts and sing, sing carols. The most difficult thing was Easter, because at Easter, you see, what the Polish people do, they put eggs and stuff into a basket, and they go to church to have it blessed by the priest. Well, what do you put in that silly basket? And how do you arrange it? Are the eggs peeled or are they not peeled? (laughs) I mean, everything was a problem, you know. We didn't know. So, luckily, my father's boss, who by then knew we were Jewish, they gave us instructions what to do, you see.

About this video

About John Rinde