Oral History

Felix Horn describes escaping from the Majdan Tatarski ghetto and seeking shelter

Felix was born to an assimilated Jewish family in Lublin, Poland. His father was a locksmith and his mother was a singer. Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Felix fled east to Rovno and then to Soviet-occupied Lvov, where he was accepted at a medical school. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Felix was taken to a labor camp. He escaped and returned to Lublin, and found that his family had been forced into the ghetto established there. After the liquidation of the Lublin ghetto, Felix, his sister, and his future wife Lucine were sent to the Majdan Tatarski ghetto. Felix, Lucine, and her brother escaped and hid, eventually fleeing to the Warsaw ghetto, where Felix and Lucine were married. They escaped to the "Aryan" side of Warsaw and obtained false papers. Felix worked for the underground during the Warsaw Polish uprising in 1944. He and Lucine were liberated by Soviet forces in January 1945. They immigrated to the United States in October 1950.

Transcript

From under the wire we run away. We're running in zigzag fashion, the Ukrainian guards and other guards start shooting after us, but didn't hit us. And after running for maybe two, three kilometers we found a Polish peasant who was going home in a wagon, horse-driven wagon, he gave us a lift, you know. He probably suspected who we were because there were no other people in this area. He didn't say nothing though, nothing to us. He pretended that he doesn't know nothing. And where we go from here? No plan, no money, no documents of any kind. First thought was to go to a bishop's palace. This was not the bishop who was the principal of the high school, but they lent the gardener the bishop's palace. Their son was a friend of mine that I was tutoring in high school. We knocked at their doors, it was early in the morning. When his mother seen me, said, she crossed herself, said, "My God, you're alive! Why you, where is your mom and dad?" I said, "They left already." "What are you doing here?" "We're looking for shelter. Can you do, can you help me?" She took us to a greenhouse, was nice and warm there. But she said, "Look, you can only stay here 'til early in the morning," because this was Sunday, "because next Monday morning the workers are coming in, they find you hiding they will denounce you to the Gestapo or the Polish police. And you know what they'll do with us, they find you hiding here, they kill us all." So we stayed there, she fed us, gave me a coat, a jacket of her husband. Her son was missing in the war, she didn't know where he was. He turned out to be later on in the British RAF, he survived the war. But she never forgot what I done for her son. He passed all the grades because I was tutoring him--French, Latin, math, history. And she felt very bad. She wanted to help us, she was scared stiff, and I understood. I don't know, if situation be reversed, how would I behave? Would I have the guts to hide those people under a death threat? In all honesty, I don't know if I could do it. I did understand their motivation and their fears, but I was grateful they kept me at least overnight so we can get our thoughts together. And then I remember my dad's associate, a Polish fellow. My dad gave him all the shops, gave them to him as a present since he couldn't keep it himself, so he inherited all the tools and machinery and so on. And he was not too far away from the bishop's palace. So early in the morning, before the workers arrived, we went there and knocked at the door again. And the same story, he crossed himself, "My God, where's your dad?" Told him the whole story again. He said, "Let's go right now to the warehouse and nobody will see you." So he hid us for several days there, brought us a little food there, and he gave us some names of people who we can contact from Polish underground, maybe they can do something for us.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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