Oral History

Emanuel Tanay describes the establishment of the Miechow ghetto

Emanuel and his family lived in the small town of Miechow, north of Krakow. After Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, persecution of Jews increased. The Germans established a ghetto in Miechow. Emanuel was forced to live in the ghetto. Emanuel, his mother, and his sister escaped from the ghetto before it was destroyed in 1942. He stayed in a monastery, under an assumed identity, along with members of the Polish underground. Emanuel left the monastery after about a year when a teacher began to suspect he was Jewish. Emanuel then became involved in the smuggling of goods to Krakow and Warsaw. He fled to Hungary in the fall of 1943. After the German occupation of Hungary in 1944, Emanuel again attempted to flee but was caught and imprisoned. He survived the war.


One day there came an announcement that there will be a Jewish quarters, which has come to be known as the ghetto. But they, the Germans called it the Jewish quarters, essentially, in, in German. And, uh, it gave you a perimeters where Jews could live, which was a tiny portion of the town, and I'm speaking of the town where I lived, but it was similarly true in other towns. And, uh, the Poles who lived in that area had to evacuate, but there was no problem because there was, the area that the Jews left was a much wider one, so whatever Pole was displaced from the Jewish...designated area for Jews, uh, they got much better quarters anyway, but not the other way around. Uh, in terms of, uh, the Jews moved in, few families into one room, two families, maybe one family in one room in the beginning. Because the ghetto, the area, the Jewish area, the Jewish, uh, part of town would become smaller and smaller and smaller. But at first it was open, so you could get in and out in certain hours. For example, there were, a Jew could not be in the street after seven o'clock. But all the other times you could get out and mingle, be outside. One day there was an announcement: the ghetto is closed. And there were gates, there were walls built, built, and you couldn't get out. So you see there was this ever-increasing, uh, level of persecution.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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