Oral History

Martin Spett describes a massacre of Tarnow Jews

The Germans occupied Tarnow in 1939. In 1940 Martin and his family were forced out of their apartment. During the first massacre of Jews, Martin hid in an attic. The family hid during two more roundups. In May 1943 they were registered, allegedly to be exchanged for German prisoners of war, because Martin's mother was born in the United States. They were taken by train to Krakow and then to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Martin was liberated in 1945 and he moved to the United States in 1947.


We heard the columns of Jews under German, German escort at night. It was going constantly. They were passing our house because this was already on the outskirts of the city, the cemetery, and they were marching them to the woods behind the, uh, the, uh, uh, city. And as we found out later they, uh, they were all shot over there. Uh, during the day I looked out through the shingles. My father said I shouldn't look but, uh, anyway, I was a kid, I was curious. And, uh, the roof was overlooking the cemetery and wagons with bodies, uh, dead bodies, were coming in. Groups, they were bringing in groups of Jewish people that had to dig ditches, and the bodies dumped in, and, uh, after those Jews that dug the ditches, they were shot also and pushed, by another group that came in after them, into those ditches, and lime was poured over, over the bodies, uh, and the next group covered up those ditches and dug other ditches. They brought in [pause] they brought in [pause] pregnant women, and they didn't use any bullets. They used bayonets [pause]. The screams of the mothers that their children, they, they tore the children out of their arms [pause]. And the screams of the children I still hear.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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