Jurek (Joe) Francuz Interview
Saturday March 25, 2005
at his home: Glen Rock, New Jersey, USA


Jurek Francuz and Judy MuratoreMarch 2005. Glen Rock, NJ. USA

[First before the "real interview" we looked through some of the photos of Klodawa that I brought, and then he brought out some letters from his mother, Doba.]

Jurek Francuz and Judy Muratore. Reviewing Klodawa photos. March, 2005.

Jurek identifying people in the Klodawa photos.

This is my mother's handwriting.....letter to Uncle Jocheil 1940. The Germans were there already. Our town, Klodawa, was "Tonningen"

Doba Francuz letter 1940.
Doba Francuz Postcard to brother Julius (Yocheil)

J: So what does that mean? They named it?

Y: Yes, they figured that they would just stay in Europe and the world forever.

J: That they would just own everything?

Y: They were trained----Lienna, Michael's wife,

Lienna and Michael Pizer. New Ulm, Germany. 1947.
Lienna Pizer. New Ulm, Germany. 1947.

she wanted to learn German, so she hired a German teacher. That German teacher was prepared, from the government, that he should be the governor of White Russia. Every German will live like a king. All the Slovaks, and the Jews that were exterminated, and all the Slovaks, as long as they can produce, we keep them alive. Then gradually, they will die out. Then the Germans will be: "Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles, Uber Alles" .It's the national anthem, it's still there, "Germany, Germany over everybody, and over everything". They still have the same national anthem. That's what they were taught, that every German will live like a king. It's a good thing that they had a problem lately...they had the problem...that Einstein, so he escaped. At that time they offered for Einstein's head, dead or alive, $10,000.00, which was a LOT of money in the thirties. But, he escaped. They were working on the Atom Bomb. Einstein wrote a letter to Roosevelt in 1938, before the war, that we can develop a weapon. The Germans were working on it, but they were on the wrong track. But, now they came...just a couple of weeks ago in the news, that they WEREN'T on the wrong track. They were just a little bit behind. So, the world--the civilized world is LUCKY that they were behind a little bit, otherwise, they would have the Atom Bomb, and the whole world would have been enslaved!

Joe: Did they say how close they were?

Y: No, they say that they were "closer than we THINK!" In the beginning they said, "They were on the wrong track." They had a mishap, and a lot of people were killed. During the war he was working on it.

J: If he had been a German (gentile) then the Germans would have had the bomb. Einstein wouldn't have had to flee, and then he would have helped them have the bomb.

Jurek: That's right!

J: Were your mother and father together?

Jurek:: Yes, my mother and father were together. See, our town--nobody mentioned, there's very little mention about "Chelmno". This is the first place..

J: I know! The first time I ever went on Yad Vashem, and looked up our family, it was listed as the place of death. I had never heard of it before, and looked it up, and found out all about it. I couldn't believe that I had never heard of it before, or anybody else!

Jurek: In Chelmno they gassed 1/4 of a million Jews. One escaped from there. As a matter of fact, he worked for my father. There was one family there, very, very strong. A big family. We belonged to the same Zionist organization, but he was older. He escaped from Chelmno and he saw what's going on there, that they gassed them...The way they gassed them there, they put them in vans..

J: Yes, I know, and they attached the pipes to the vans and locked the people inside.

Jurek: Yes, that's right. Slow death. Then they buried them. So, he came over and he told our people in town, the leaders, "What's going on? They're killing our people?" So, they thought that he was crazy. And, they told him, "If you are going to spread such rumours, we'll send you--we'll give you over to the German police!" So, he said, "I'm afraid now of the Jews?" So, he ran away to another town, and the same thing happened. Nobody could believe that! So, my mother went to Chelmno. This was the first. And, my father, this is what I know because one survived, Nichinsky.

J: Somebody from your town, or somebody from your family?

Jurek: No, from my town. He survived. He was with my father, so he said what happened was my father, who was 53, or 54 years old, the neighbour was also the same age. We lived on the third floor, they lived on the second floor. So, the Germans said, "Who's tired, so we'll give them a ride with the truck to the destination, wherever." So, the people who said they were tired were taken right to the gas chambers. That's how my father was killed. And, my mother went to Chelmno. And, my little brother, Henyik, also his friends, one of the Opoczynski’s survived--Opoczynski and Burdowski were two friends of his who survived. So, they said they were together with him in Theresienstadt - in a few labour camps, in a few death camps. So, if he would have had a few more potatoes peeled. He was at the end of 1944 still alive, and then they took him and gassed him. They killed him. My grandfather, my mother's father was 86 years old, when they killed him in Auschwitz. He was together with Ruby Bri (cousin on his mother's side who survived and Jurek was always close with). This was my mother's brother's son. He was a little bit older than I. He survived. When he came to Auschwitz it was very good. Both the other labour camps were terrible. He was a mechanic. They needed him, because he could fix sewing machines, because they were making uniforms for the army. So, mounds of sewing machines. They wrapped whatever they could, the Germans, from everything. When they shot down the planes the needed the bearings, he knew how to take apart all the parts. So, they kept him alive. He came to Auschwitz, so he worked there, and he was together with his grandfather--my grandfather, too. And, 86, they killed him.

J: This is your mother's father. Yes, I don't know that far back. I know your mother is Doba. Your father is Avrum Francuz.

Doba [Bri] Francuz-Jurek's mother

Jurek: From home she was "BRI" (maiden name).

J: Was she from Klodawa?

Jurek:: No, she was from Warsaw. Her parents lived in Warsaw.

J: What was her name before Francuz?

Jurek:: Her maiden name was "BRI".

J: Oh, yes, you said that.

Jurek:: Her mother's name was "Elka", and the father's name was Avrahum-Chaim.

J:Then there was Doba.

Jurek:: Yes, Doba. Doba had her brother--one brother Rachmeal, one brother Meyer, and one brother the same name as I, Israel-Yosef. The later years they lived in Plock. It was a big town PLOCK--nice town.

  Jurek Francuz cousin [from the Bri side of the family] and local shoe vendor in Plock. c. 1934.  
Plock, Poland.

J: Then there was Bayla, [Judy Muratore's great-grandmother] and your father was Avrum, then Jocheil, and Freyda (married Louis Opper).

Bayla Francuz Przedecki [Judy Muratore's great-grandmother]

Jocheil Francuz

Jurek's Uncle who sponsored him in the U.S.


Jurek: Then there was David was his father.

J: They were the only ones who stayed in Poland--David...?

Jurek: No. Bayla died before the war. David lived in Izbica He had also four children. Ruth (Ruthie and Chaim Abrahamie).

Ruth [Francuz] Abrahamie-First cousin to Jurek Francuz.


Chaim Abrahamie-husband of Ruth Francuz.


Chanka was her sister. Meyer-Zalik, and Moneyak, was the youngest one(son).

J: Did Ruthie's brothers and sisters survive?

Jurek: No, none of them.

J: So, Ruthie was the only one. How---

Jurek:: Ruthie left for Israel in 1936, I believe. 1936, or 37.

J: Freyda was here in the U.S., correct.

Joe: Was it easy in 1936 to leave Poland?

Jurek: Yes, it was easy. You see you had to be a capitalist, to show that you have 40,000 pounds (Great British Pounds), so the English would let you in (to Palestine). They had a quota the English. They would not let in more than 5,000 Jews to Israel--at that time Palestine, a year. Since she had a friend, also in Izbica, and he fell in love w/ her. He was a very short man, but a very nice man. A wealthy man. He sent her an affidavit from Israel. He went to Israel as a capitalist. But, somehow, the chemistry didn't work. She was a good-looking woman, she came and she told him, "I cannot marry you, I will not marry you." Then she met Chaim, at the time. Chaim was also--they had a breakout from "AKAU"--the underground--the Jewish Underground. They arrested the people--the English arrested the people, they sent to Akau. Akau was a jail--a very, very fortified jail. A bunch of these young men, they kept in the prison there, and they freed some. They freed quite a few prisoners from the Underground. He was caught, also. They sent him to prison to South Africa. So, he was in prison there for-- I don't know how many years--a few years. He was making different things, from metal.. So, he said, he made a few things from metal, and he says, he'll "never part w/ that". This was , he said "to remember all the prison years."
He was a dear, dear Zionist.. Those years they were really dedicated fighters.

Joe: During the 30's in the occupation, it couldn't have been all that wonderful in that area.

Jurek: That's right.

Joe: But, coming from Poland.

Y: Was bad!

Joe: Which was worse??

Jurek: You see the living conditions in Israel were very bad at that time. The English, they were with the Arabs. They were afraid how many Jews do you have at the time, and how many Arabs. So, this is politics. So, in the Balfour Declaration,

The Balfour Declaration
November 2, 1917


During the First World War, British policy became gradually committed to the idea of establishing a Jewish home in Palestine (Eretz Yisrael). After discussions in the British Cabinet, and consultation with Zionist leaders, the decision was made known in the form of a letter by Arthur James Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild. The letter represents the first political recognition of Zionist aims by a Great Power.

Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour

this was supposed to be where Jordan is now. The whole area was supposed to be for a Jewish state. Chaim Weitzman, he discovered something during the First World War, and he gave this to England. So, in appreciation, they asked what he wanted, and he said, "I want a homeland for my people". So, this was the Balfour Declaration. But, they didn't keep their word, the English.

Chaim Wietzman (Right) and Harry Truman. 1949.

Joe: Things would have been a lot different today, had the English occupation been a little bit more even.

Jurek: That's right. Even-handed. Yes, you see, "the Chosen People"--I wish God would have chosen somebody else! The "Chosen People", they suffer, you understand?
I went through suffering as a child, at Lucas' (Judy’s 9 year old son) age we were afraid. The older children beat us up. It wasn't THEIR fault. It was the PARENTS FAULT! The way the parents they teach them, "Hate the Jew!" "Hate the Jew!"

Joe: It's the first time I read this, that the Jews in that area [Poland] for over 500 years, and then they were marched out as if they were interlopers to be exterminated.

Jurek: You see, it depends in Poland, who was in power. The king. Certain kings were very good to Jews. Even in my time,


Marshal Josef Pilsudski


the Marshal of Poland, Marshal Jozef Pilsudski-he was a fighter, but he was very liberal. A GOOD MAN! They say maybe because of that--he attacked, in 1920, they had already a Communist system in Russia, so he attacked the Russian Army. Poland was twisted (?). They went onto Kiev, and they chased the Russian army. Then, the fighter--the Bear you know, they start to chase them back, and they wanted to catch Pilsudski. So, Pilsudski came into a village, a Jewish village, so he said, "They are after me! The Russians are after me!" "The Communists are after me, they want to kill me!" So, they took him into some lodging, and they knew they were coming, so they put on the shoulder, the "Tulis", and the Yalmuka, and Tfilin, and they began praying. So, the Russians walked in, and they see a bunch of Jews praying, so THEY LEFT! That's how he got out! That's history! That's how he survived! He was grateful. As a matter of fact, he gave the liquor concession to the Jewish men in Poland.

Tulis, Tfilin, Yamalka (under prayer shawl)

Joe: So, what year was that?

Jurek: He passed away also in 1936, or 1937. So, he was VERY good! [to the Jews]. We called him the "grandfather". Everybody was calling him this--he had big eyebrows, and he was a wonderful man. And, they made that uprising against him in 1928. The radicals, but he beat them. It's a good thing they didn't take over, because there would have been---And, after he passed away, the government became OPEN ANTI-SEMITIC! Because, they say to boycott in Jewish places. So, the Prime Minister, the Polish Prime Minister said, "OK, Boycott Oyfsha". Boycott Jewish is OK. This is a governments official. So, at this time there was already anti-Semitism grew, since he [Pilsudski] passed away--more, and more and more. You see people with a normal life, cannot appreciate the FREEDOM what we have here!
We were AFRAID to fight back, because we were 10%. The Jewish population in Poland was 10%. Over three and a half million people, Jewish people. And, a very, very few survived.

J: Can you translate that for me? Then maybe I'll make a copy sometime. [letter from Doba to Uncle Jocheil]

Jurek: My mother is writing--my grandfather, my father's father, had a brother Ziskind, Ziskund Francus. They didn't have children. Her name was Sheina. So, she {Doba] writes that he passed away the 22nd of Jewish month Adar, on the Jewish calendar. They were lucky. This was already in 1940. In 1940 they both died two weeks apart. She was the same age. It says, they were 85 years old. They were older, because my grandfather--my father's father was 104 when he passed away! He was a bit younger. It just happened--we had to visit him every Saturday. The children, my children [siblings] and Michael's parents, they told us to visit the "older Uncle", the "Great Uncle", to visit Saturday. They didn't have any children. So, we went to him. So, he used to tell us stories, because he was in the army, the Russian Army. Everyone had to go into the army, so he went into the army for seven years, and eight months. And, the thing that was interesting for me, he always told us about the story in Middle Asia in Uzbekistan. Where I was during the war. I was there. Coincidentally, yes. So, he was over there. He was in the army for seven years and eight months. So, this is one letter.

And, this letter is..

J: It's addressed to my grandfather. It says "Mr. M. Pizer". [address was Salem Street, Malden, MA.] This is from your mother?

Postcard from Doba Francuz to Mark Pizer [Judy Muratore's grandfather.] 1934, Congratulating him on the birth of his daughter Joyce. [Judy's mother]

Jurek: Yes. This she wrote in 1934. Here my mother is wishing good luck to your grandparents[ Menesha and Esther] when Joyce [Judy's mother] was born. When Joyce was born, yes. And, she was complaining, my mother, “How come Menesha didn't write ?!!?” [the postcard had a man's photo on the front that looked like Menesha, by coincidence, but it was just the photo that came on the card]

Another letter, to Yocheil from Doba. My grandfather passed away in 1934. My father's father. So, my mother writes to Yocheil that your grandfather passed away. This is in 1934.

J: So, Avrum's father. What was his name?

Jurek: Chaim Wolfe.

J: So, where did the Francus come from????

Y: I have somewhere the history. Photo [the one I brought from Unlce Mike]---this is my youngest brother. These are the leaders from Klodawa. This is like a camp. This is my youngest brother.

J: What was his name?

Y: Herschel.

J: Herschel? Oh, Henyik? And, Henyik died in the army?

Y: Henyik died in Theresienstadt, the concentration camp. And your other brother was Menesha?

Francuz Brothers Left-Right: Menesha, Tzvi, Jurek. c.1934 Klodawa, Poland.

Y: Yes, Menesha. He was in the active duty. He was supposed to come home September 15th [1939], and the war broke out September 1. He was killed under Kutna. The survivors were with him in the same platoon, they told me where he fell. He fell--he was hit with a bullet, and they told him, "Lie down !" But, the fear of the Germans was so great he said, "No I don't want to fall into the German's hand!" So, he ran w/ the army and another bullet hit him, and he was killed.








J: So, tell me YOUR story. From your childhood, when you were born, life in Klodawa....

Jurek: I was born September 13, 1918.

J: Tell me about your family, your parents...

Jurek: Yes, I lived with my parents. I was the second from the oldest. The oldest was Menesha, he was three years older. Then I was there. Then came another child, Mordchai. He was three years younger than I. Unfortunately, he sick with Tidal Fever (?). At that time, it wasn't--And, he passed away, he was five years old. He was a "wonder child"! All around the town they heard about this man, this child. And Menesha's {Pizer] grandfather {Mordchai Przedecki who was very scholarly] said, " If this child should grow up he'll be a "goen"--he'll be GENIUS.

Mordchai and Rivka Przedecki. Judy's great-great-grandparents.

Because he knew this child, he was such a bright, such a wonderful child. After this child, my mother, she didn't want to live anymore, after this child died. After this, a year--a couple of years later, another child was born, Herschel--Henyik. In Europe, most of the people were poor--just barely living. My father had a tailor shop. He employed four, later six people. That's how we lived.

The Duprenskis of Argentina and Warsaw.


Then we had my mother's cousin, Duprenski. Duprenski, they were VERY wealthy people. They came from Argentina. In Argentina they had plantations. At that time, I found what she left to me, in her will, everything--whatever she has. So, I found a check for $40,000.00, what they transferred over from Argentina to Poland! In Poland, $40,000.00 in those years, before the first World War!

J: That's like a million dollars!

Y: More than that! So, they invested, they bought a five story building. They had eighteen tenants. Eighteen tenants that paid, like in American money $900.00 every three months. On top of that, he had a fruit business. Wholesale--they brought in Warsaw "Ptasha", the name was "Ptasha Street". They brought in freight trains, fruit from Italy, from the warm countries--grapefruit, oranges, watermelons. He was a wholesaler, and all the little people, they bought from him. So, they were very wealthy.
So, they lived in their house. Their house was in a very beautiful neighbourhood. But, they wanted the MOST exclusive neighbourhood, so they lived at "Moshekovska 48".
And, I used to spend my vacation, every year three months, I used to spend with them. And, I had a wonderful time. They dressed me. I came home every year with beautiful, beautiful clothes. The children in school, I was in school already, so I was so nicely dressed, so everybody know, "Francuz fugutif". Francuz, he is very wealthy. We weren't, we were VERY poor! And, that's how we lived.

Later on I finished grammar school. In Poland, grammar school was a GOOD education. Like here, I would say, at least two years of high school. I remember when I came here to this country in 1949, I saw a book, an algebra book from my cousin--my cousin Cy [Francuz--Yocheil's son]. I took a look, and I said, "OK, I know this, I learned this. [Cy said], "You learned THIS already! The "unknown", two, three unknown!" I said, "Yes" So, he was surprised that we know so much, just from grammar school. When I finished--for a Jew to be the best in the class, this was... And, the teachers they DIDN'T show anti-Semitism, but they tried to pull out--
They had also another good student--a Polack student-Mishtak was his name--nice kid! The teacher tried to pull him out, but he couldn't beat me. To give you an example, before the exams, so the head of the school-the principal, we tried to help out the kids who were behind a little bit. So, the principal said, "Could you help me out, could you stay with me and you will help me out with the students?" I said, "Yeah, why not?" When it came to the exams, he said, "You don't have to take the exams. I know you know." So, I was THE best in school. When the math teacher--the exam was for four or five hours. An hour and forty minutes, I got up and I delivered the paper. So, the whole class says, "OOOHH!" So, the teacher took the paper, he was a nice guy, he looked at it, here, here, here, and said, "Get the hell out of here!"

Henyik Niehaus c. 1936. Klodawa.

I wanted to continue my studies, but my parents couldn't afford to send me. High school, we didn't have in our town. In order to send a child to high school, a family of five or six could live already. So, what do I do? So, I subscribed to correspondence high school. My friend Henyik Niehauswho escaped w/ Jurek and Michael Pizer], he was a rich--his parents were rich, he went to high school. I finished grammar school together with him. So, he sent me some work from his school. I needed a dictionary. So, my parents bought me a dictionary for four, or four and half dollars, on INSTALLMENT! Twenty-four cents a month--every two weeks. Because, my parents were for education! My mother, she had a high school education. In those days, the beginning--the turn of the century, to have a high school education was an accomplishment, also. I remember your grandfather [Menesha] he sent me--he knew--he was older, he was about twelve years older than I, we were studying "Esperanto". [the new language that was being taught--it was a mix of all the languages] He knew that I was a bright kid, so he used to send me from time to time, ten dollars for my education, from the United States. He wasn't rich yet!

That's how we lived until the war broke out. Then the war broke out in 1939. September 1st.

Joe: What were you doing before the war?

Y: Before the war I was helping my father. My father had a tailor shop.

Joe: You were an apprentice, working your way up through the ranks. What were you doing for

Jurek: For education? For education I was doing whatever I could. I read nice books--good books. As, I said before, my parents were for the children's education. We were criticized. When I was ten years old, my older brother was thirteen years old, so they criticized us, "A boy from ten, a boy from thirteen shouldn't read a daily newspaper?" Do you understand? We had modern Hebrew. Whatever was educational, my parents didn't skimp. They'll skimp on a MEAL, but NOT on education! To give a child modern Hebrew lessons, the town--it was a small town--320 Jewish families. We had two libraries. One was a Zionist library, and one was more like the leftist. The leftist had VERY good books. They had over 3000 books. The Zionist, they had about 2000 books. So, we belonged to the--even as a Zionist child, I belonged to the other library, and took out books from there. I had to read all Shakespeare's plays, Greek mythology--you know Isicles, Euripedes, Sophacles--with that David [Pizer],

David Pizer. 1936.
Menesha Pizer. [Judy's grandfather]

Menesha's brother, we read the same books, and we discussed the books. One book I remember, John Galsworthy, "The Forsythe Saga". They were in five volumes, so we discussed all these books, also, together. With your grandfather [Menesha], we started to learn "Esperanto", by Dr. Zmenhof I told you that story.

Ludvic Lazarus Zamenhof-creator of Esperanto.
Meeting of Esperanto speakers in Huesco, Spain, 1920.
Annual conference of Esperanto speakers in Brussels, Belgium. 1924.



Jurek: So, now what do you want to know??

Joe: Did you know there was trouble? Did people expect this to happen--for Germany to invade? Were there any signs?

Jurek: Oh yeah, the people knew..

Joe: For how long, a year?

Jurek: You see when Hitler came--when he took the Czar from the French, we expected something was wrong. Then, he took the Sudetenland

Sudentanland Pre- WW2

from Czechoslavakia. Then Chamberlain was, at that time, the Prime Minister. Once after the Sudentenland he came back Chamberlain, he landed with a plane, and with a paper, he showed, "I have peace with Germany." No more, no more. But, in no time they (Germans) grabbed the whole Czechoslavakia. And, Czechoslavakia at that time, they had 3000 planes--3000 fighting planes. Somehow, England, France, they were very against the Soviet Union at that time, so they rather let that go, to appease Hitler, than to go together with the Soviet Union. At that time, my opinion--people's opinion at that time was, if the Soviet Union, Czech.--if they would be together AGAINST Hitler, he would not have such a easy victory in the beginning years. He was going, no stopping! So, people expected BAD things. But, during a war you EXPECT bad things, but NOT to such an extent--JUST TO EXTERMINATE! JUST TO EXTERMINATE, JUST TO KILL PEOPLE!! So, we as youngsters, we were with the Germans together (?--tape faded, I think he was talking of the Germans being in their town) we decided, after about two and a half months, almost three months, we decided---because we went to work, the roads what they bombed, so they took the people--the men, to go to work, to fix the roads. When the Germans came in, the first thing--every day was a different order. We have to bring pillows, we have to bring sheets, whatever you could, we had to bring in.

One day, this was Yom Kippur day, the SS came into town. So my father, we were---the Jews they went, Yom Kippur-the holiest day, so my father told me, "If the Germans will come to town--". They expect every day the expect something BAD, so my father said, "Come to town, come get me. Don't make a panic in the schul, and we'll go out the back way. We leave--we go home. And, that's how it was. I ran to the schul, and I told my father. Some people left. At that time--it was during the day. They took out one of the leaders from town--Hendik [possibly Yehuda Hendrych?] was his name. And, they put them--they let them stand in a puddle. And, the SS, and they say, they were talking to him--I was looking through the window, and what happened--they found when the Polish Army passed town, they killed one German--the "volkshriest"--the general who lived in Poland. They killed him and they buried him in his backyard. So, this was such a crime?!? So, they took him out--they went to the schul, and they took out this town leader, then they had another Orthodox temple, a smaller temple, and they took out all the Jewish people with the Talisem, and they made them dig out that German who was buried there, by hand. They had to dig out the dirt by hand. They put him on a wagon--not with a horse, the people were the horses, and they made them bury that man. They had to bring him to the cemetery on the wagon, and they buried him. And they stopped after they buried him, so they


Joe: So, there was no resistance to the Germans coming in?

Jurek:: In a few days it was all over in Poland. They conquered everything. They went so fast. Poland was so small. They were on horses. They had mechanized-- everything was mechanized.

[Getting back to the Yom Kippur day incident] So, it was a terrible day. And, we had one German woman, a native. She was in Poland. She was very nice. And, she saved that man's life. She went to the office there, to the German's office. She was German, you know, so she had influence. So, that night we saw this was VERY bad.

J: Was this 1939?

Jurek: Yes, this was 1939. The very beginning, very few days, Yom Kippur. We had to go to work everyday. To spare my father, he shouldn't go to work, so my younger brother and I we went everyday to fix the--and after work. And, that time, the last day we went to work. So, two young kids, one Opoczynski, and another young child--15 or 16 years old, they had to go to the bathroom, so they went to the field, because it was in the field. It was farther away. So, the German thought--the guard--he thought they were sitting there too long, so he took the rifle and he started shooting them. Whether deliberately, he didn't want to kill them, or he missed? And, we started to scream at them (the young boys), "Henyik, Come back, hurry up! What's taking you so long?!" And, they came back. So, the two Germans started hitting these two kids. The faces, right away, the faces swell up. One older boy said, "Herr Deutch"--he gave him a title, like "Sir"...and he said, "Sir, he's just a child." So, he turned around with the rifle and he hit HIM! It was so depressing! So, we decided, my cousin Michael (Pizer), and another elder cousin, Ceplinski--I don't know if you've heard of the name, he was also a cousin, and another friend of ours, we decided we'll take off. We'll go to the other side of Poland. We know that Poland is divided--half is Russia, so it wasn't far, it wasn't far. It was maybe 200, or 150 miles away. So, we decided we would take the train. We would go through Warsaw and we would go there. So--and that's what happened. We started off by foot. Before we left, we went to the Rabbi for blessing. [Jurek's eyes begin to fill up with tears as he speaks] He pauses, and continues. The way my father said "Good-Bye". He had a suspicion that my other brother was killed by the Germans. He said, "One son, the Germans killed, that’s enough!” That’s how he said good-bye. That is the last time I saw anybody in my family.

That's how we got to Warsaw. We stopped over Deprinsky, also. They were also in a very frightful atmosphere. And, from there we took the train. There was a curfew. We slept in a demolished building. And, from there we took the train to Mulkid, a small border town, at that time the border between the Russian Zone and the German Zone, and we came there as neutral zone, maybe a half mile long and wide. We came over there, there were then thousands of people waiting that the Russians should let us in. They were waiting. It was almost the end of November. It was cold, with wet snow a little bit rain. We slept on the ground. The farmers brought over food, and we bought whatever we could. We bought something to eat. Then later, on the third day, the Russians opened the borders and we could go in. So, we went in.
From there, we went to Bialystok. We didn't know anybody. We rented a room. We slept thirty people in one room on the floor. In the middle of the night, if you had to go out [bathroom], you had to crawl over the people. We were packed like sardines. Then we found another place from another family, and we rented a bench, for 2 zlotych which is something like 40 cents. A bench for the night to sleep over on the bench. You had to be careful not to fall down from the bench! [laughing!] But, it was alright!

Little by little we started--we stayed in line for a piece of bread. My father sewed in my jacket, like a hundred and fifty zlotych. So, we stayed there for a few days. I remember I took a half of kilo, about a pound and a half of sugar, and a loaf of bread. That's what we had on our clothes. Little by little--we rented a room. We looked around and we see that the Russians, the soldiers, whatever they saw they wanted to buy. So, we start looking around, and we met the Melnyks, you have that on the pictures here [cousin's of the Pizer's from Warsaw-we have a photo of the Menesha and the four brothers

Pizer Brothers Standing L-R : Avrum, Michael, David. Sitting L-R:: Menesha, Rachel and Menehem Mylnek. Warsaw, 1932.

w/ this couple, taken with this couple, taken the day the brothers went to see Menesha off to the U.S. in 1932]--we saw their son--their son we met. His parents also came over--he was going, then, back and forth to Poland. He looked like a Polack [blonde?]. He had a source for zippers, and fountain pens. We rented out--we already had a room by a Polish family, and we went out to the market, with a little old suitcase of zippers and pens, and we came home with money. The Russians--whatever they----they bought EVERYTHING! So, we stayed in the room with this family--then the son brought over the parents, also, and the sister---Do you remember the sister, Brancha? Brancha Bent? He brought them over.


Y: And, we stayed there. We stayed in Bialystok for about six months.

Bialystok, Russia [on Polish/Russian border]
Another group of Klodawa residents who escaped and lived in Bialystok for a number of months. [see below for names]

Left to Right Front Row: Yitzhak Niehaus, ? Bauman, Rushka Hirskowicz, David Landau. Left to Right Back Row: Israel Kibel,*Moshe Krel, [*submitted photo], Leiser-David Taube, Yosef German.

And, after being there for about four or five months, they had a registration, the Russians. Who wants to stay has to move into deeper Russia, not near the border. And, if not, you have to go back to the other side of Poland where the Germans are. So, from the parents we heard, that if you stay in Russia, nobody could get out FROM Russia, in those years before the War. So, we registered that we want to go back. Fortunately, they wouldn't let us back. They let in one transport, and NO more. So, we stayed another couple of months and they started to catch people. They recognized the people from the "other side", the Russians and they sent them away. We didn't know WHERE they were sending them, but we saw it was bad. Finally, they came, this was in July, they came 11:00 pm, before midnight, and they said, "Come on, let's go." So, we went. [they were taken to Siberia]

J: You were at that time with Michael (Pizer) and Henyik (Niehaus).

Jurek: Yes, we were together. So, they took us, and we went there. So, the single people, we saw was very bad. They put them in one room. It was very hot. The people--it was such a miserable condition, one on top of the other. And, if you were with a family, they let you stay in the open yard. So, we started to look for fictitious mates. I found one, her name was also Sarah. There was the strongest man at that time, in those years before the War, Zishe Breitbart.

Zishe/Sigmund Breitbart

He was one of the strongest men in the world, you could say. And, somehow he hit nails through a board, he hit his knee, and he got an infection. So, they told him ok, we'll take care of your knee. He said, "No, No". Zishe Breitbart he was very, very well known. He made such tricks. He held back running horses. The end of him was that they amputated his leg, and he went to Vienna--the best doctors, and they couldn't save his life and he passed away. So, one of his family, Sarah, I registered with her. Michael found also another girl, and Henyik also found another girl. So, already they sent us to a different place that was better. The second day, she came over to me, and said, "My Uncle, (another Uncle from the same family), wants me to come with them, so I have to leave you!" OK. So, I found another girl! It was such a disorder! So, disorganized! So, I found another one. Somehow, we were all three with wives.

They sent us to a different place, a better place—a labour camp, but a different labour camp, like a family. The labour camp, they let us down. We had to build our own barracks. They had a few barracks, but it wasn't enough. So, lumber is plenty. Ten thousand square kilometers just forest! Beautiful forest! And, we start living there. In the beginning, they said that we can earn seven rubles and 20 kopeck--$7.20/ day. Could you jump from the bottom? This was an impossible thing. Could you jump to a two story building--jump up?? NO! It's impossible! In two weeks, every two weeks we got paid. I got a ruble eighty...less than $2.00. From a day $7.20 , to $2.00. A ruble 80 a week. Michael got $2.20! He was a big boy! Anyway, they saw after a few weeks, they saw they needed production also, they had to feed us also, they had to feed us for our money. We had money. So, they gave us one of natives--the old landowners-what the Bolsheviks, the Communists sent to live in Siberia-very poor conditions. So, they gave us one of theirs. Pzunia Czinykov was his name. He said if they would let us cut trees, we would make a lot of money. So, we thought he was dreaming. And, after a couple of weeks, we started making money! We had to earn 320 rubles in six months. And, if you earn 320 rubles in the six months, they give you a bonus of 160 rubles more. So, in the beginning we lost SO much time--we make nothing! So, we start--on the weekend. We had to work six days a week, and one day off. So, on the weekend we helped each other out. A bunch of kids got together in whatever place we worked. So, they helped us out, and we went to where they worked and we helped them. And, we made the 160 extra rubles, which is a LOT of money!!--Because, we didn't have any other income.

So, anyway, from our camp we had 500 people, mostly Jewish people, mostly young people. We had one man, an older man--an “old” man--he was 38 years old! Kempolov was his name. Twelve kilometers from here was also another camp with 500 people. From the two camps, I think I mentioned "the Stechana"--who will work more, will get more--from the two camps, the biggest stechanos--who produced the MOST from all these thousand people, was...JUREK! So, I got an award. So, it just happened that Michael didn't feel good that day. And, we had a library, also. So, I was with a girlfriend.

Jurek:: We had a good time in there! Because it was families! So, I was with the girl in the little library there, and one boy comes running up, "Yura"...I should come back to the--we slept 60 kids in one room. I should come. I thought Michael didn't feel good. I said, "What, Michuel--he's ok?" He said, "Come, Come back!" I come back and the Captain from the Camp, the military, and his soldier, and the one who was from the magazine--where he sells all different things, and the Master--the engineer from the forest, and they have a BIG BUNDLE! Five kilogram macaroni, two liter oil, a kilogram (2.5 lbs) of candy--it was whole--it was a FORTUNE!!! And, he made a whole speech, the captain, he said "Yura!"--they called me Yura at that time, [Jurek begins speaking in Russian repeating the words of the Captain] That I DID the norm, and OVERDID the norm so much. So, this was the reward! So, the jealousy started. The people were saying, "Captain, I work hard, I also work hard!" From the year and a half, nobody got anything, except Yura---

***********change tape here. missed a few sentences*******************************

J: Uncle Michael told me the story of your friend Henyik being a "mama's boy", and he didn't know how to chop the wood. He never held an axe in his life. And, when he went to chop the wood, he missed and cut his leg.

Siberia, USSR

Jurek:: He got better! And, for all the years in camp, some people took off days. Once, I took off a few--I hit winter time, the trees, when you dig up the trees, you had to bring them up from the ground, so I hit the tree and piece of ice hit my eye, and I fell unconscious, and they took me home, and the rest of the day I didn't go to work. Otherwise, everyday I worked. And, another thing, once--we had a thing, if the temperature was 35 below zero, they didn't force you--they couldn't force you to go out to work. Below 35 degrees, yes. When it was colder they took the thermometer, and nobody knew how cold it was. Once it was 55 below! And, I was working at that time with horses to bring out--to make big stacks. So, with a slat, with a chain we tied down the logs and we pulled it over to make a bundle. So, one of my workers, he was an "older" guy already, he was in his thirties already there! He came up bundled up in a fur coat, he was a rich guy, he wanted to show that he is a patriot. So, the captain from the camp, "Jerbiachek" was his name, he was the Captain of the military. He says, "Yura, your man wants to go to work, he wants to go to work." I was the foreman! {he laughs]. He was wondering where they were.. He said, [Captain] and all the boys said, "Yura, give him a lesson today!" Because, he was a lazy guy. So, I say, "Let's go!" Don't worry. Come 2:00, he says, "Let's go home!" I said, "No, we're not going home. We stay 'til 6!" He said, "What, they'll think we're crazy!" I said, "You are crazy! Why did you come out?" He said the only guy who worked...I worked on the coldest day in the camp! I stayed all day outside and worked with that lunatic! I couldn't make even a fire! Fifteen, or twenty was a perfect weather to work--below! So, then we survived that.

Then, after the Labour Camp, when Hitler attacked, June 22, 1941, Hitler attacked Russia. So, they freed--they let go all the prisoners to fight the Germans. From there we registered to go to the hottest spot in the country, Uzbekistan-Bukhara. When they let us go already, they said, "We'll give you good conditions. We'll pay you a lot of money. Just stay, we'll pay you a lot of money. Just stay and work in the woods!" We said, "That's it! That’s enough!" So, we registered. We went down to Bukhara.

Bukhara, Uzbekistan [near Afghanistan/Iranian Border]
Native Uzbek in front of Muslim mosque, typical of Bukhara, Uzbekistan.

We went down, and Michael. It took us two weeks, or more-- three weeks to get there. We stopped, in the meantime, in different cities-- Chelyabinsk Sverdloyvsk. You heard of these cities? Industrial cities. Everything underground. And, we worked for the military, so they gave us good food to eat. They gave us, yet, some potatoes to take! And, that's how we worked our way through Bukhara. When we came to Bukhara, we had two dollars and some change. So, Michael says--there were some beautiful grapes. He says, "So nice!" So, he spent the two dollars for the grapes!

J: I can't believe he spent his money!

Jurek: [laughing] Yeah! And, then we slept outside. The weather outside was beautiful. We were looking for a good stone, for a pillow! And, from there they took us to a collective farm. We started to work there. In the beginning it was OK. They could feed us. And, then later on, they didn't have. So, they gave us 400 grams of oats. With the flower, with the straw, everything together, you know the way they--. We made, you know we put some water, and we cooked with a spoon. We made pieces, and that's what we ate. But, the body needs more! The body needs a little bit fat-yes? What can I tell you? It was so bad! We went through a hunger for about eight months. Not that I didn't EAT a piece of bread, I didn't SEE a piece of bread! We were on the fields. I remember it was March. It was March already. Excuse me, excuse the expression, but I threw up. I threw up a green slime. And, I was praying to God, I'd rather be killed from a bullet, rather than from hunger. It's a terrible feeling! Die from hunger. We went back to the collective farm. They called us to the army. We had a paper--a paper that we should go. That they'll take us in the Army! The joy was--don't ask! We ran 24 kilometers--16 miles. We went over there--they took us by train. We were about 360 people. There were a few Polacks--real Polacks [not Jews]. We came to the Polish government in exile. The military. So, we came over there, and they said point blank, "Jews, we don't take!" The few, eight or ten Polacks they took. Yet, they gave us a good meal, and we slept on the outside. It was warm already. We slept on the outside. In the morning they said, "You have to leave!"

So, there was the biggest silk factory, the second biggest silk factory, from the cocoon--you know the cocoon, in the country. So, we went over there to look for work. It was a year. It was later I think. So, we went over there, and we stayed in line to register to work. So, a little man, a gray-haired man with an attaché case under his arm, he walks by, he points he finger. I say, "Yes?" He said, "What are you doing here?" I said, "I'm looking for work." He said, "Where are you from?" I said, "I'm from Poland." He says, "From where?" I say, "Warsaw." He said, "Warsaw! I'm from Warsaw!" He came to Russia in 1912, and he was a big shot there. So, he said, "Ok, go over there right away, and tell them Mr. Solomon, I should register. I tell him I have a friend here, I was with Henyik there. So, we left the collective farm so that Michuel could collect our portion, the 400 grams of oats. So, for him, we said, "If we find something, we'll come for you." So, he says, "Where is your friend?" I said, "Here". He said, "Go over to there and they'll give you a bread coupon." I said, "I don't have any money to buy, you have to pay." So, he took 30 rubles and he gave me them, and he said, "Go. Go buy--run! Because they close from the kiosk where you can get the bread." So, we run over there. And, then he says, "Go tonight, you can sleep over. It's 3 kilometers from here. For $3.00 a night you can sleep over there, and you can get some Chai tea, also there. We had already a piece of bread. We had 600 grams of bread, which is a pound and a quarter. It was the first time bread. And, we went over there, and we slept over. Then in the morning he says, "Go to the Banya" Which is like "to delights"--excuse the expression. Of course, everybody had it. Then everybody can start to work. And, that's what happened, everybody started to work. Construction work. Dig ditches. I don't know for what they needed these ditches?! Concrete. Not with a spade, but with a special thing, like this...it was a stick w/ one end bend over...and we had to hit the concrete. And, the heat was terrible. It was so hot. It was 100-110 degrees. So, we worked there. Then he had also under him an engineer, that put the stands, you know, the tripods--

Joe: Surveyor.

Jurek: So, he took Henyik and me that we should help them. He was an army officer in the Hungarian Army. But, he was in Russia at that time. He was working. He was also married. He had a wife. He took to me. He was LAZY! WE started to work at 8:00. It was 9, 10, and he was NOT there. Ok, we worked with him. Then he said to me, "Could you get me a bread card, from the Black Market?" So, I said, that's not a bad idea. I found the Black Market at that time, so I made 30 rubles out of it. Little by little. Then he said, "Can you get me another one?" I said, "Why not?" So, I got one. Then I see, it's a Black Market. We have to do something! So, whatever I could, I'd sell in the Black Market. To make the story short, I made a little bit by Black Market, and Construction. And, there was a kitchen. They cooked three thousand portions a day. Two shifts. Fifteen hundred, and fifteen hundred. I came to the back door, and I asked the one who cleans the kessels--just women are working there, because the men are fighting the enemy. So, I ask, "Can I help?" She says, "Yes." And, she gave me a couple of kessels to clean. She gave me from the cans, the tin, what they eat. I made such good job. I wanted to ask, "Can I come tomorrow?" Then, she asked ME, "Can you come tomorrow, also?" I said, "Yes, I can!" Then, I was coming over there for quite a few days. Then, she asked me--the head of the kitchen was also a woman, "Can you cook?" I said, "Sure, I can cook!" What can I tell you? Little by little, I took over the whole kitchen! [he was laughing} I started to cook for three thousand portions a day! And, that engineer--he wasn't coming, so what can do? He saw me work in the kitchen, so he comes over and he says, "Yura, let's go to work!" She jumped on him--the head from the woman--so they started to fight, she said, "No, I need him over here!" He says, {Jurek repeating the engineer's words in Russian}-"if you don't come with me--report to me, then you'll go to jail for not going work!" This was the law under Communism. They start to holler at each other. I said, to the woman ?Checha Julia, "I have to go with him." So, I went over with him, and he said, "How could you embarrass me like that?" I didn't answer. I told Henyik. After work, I washed up. I dressed up. I wanted to go over to him. He lived a few blocks. So, I went over to him, and he wasn't home, but his wife was home. So, I told her, " I'll tell you. I'm hungry, and I want to survive the War! If I'll work in the kitchen, I'll be fed, and THIS WILL MY GIFT TO MY PARENTS! She says, "OK, I understand." "I'll talk to him.” Before I left, he walked in. He said, "You embarrased me so much in front of her." I said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it!" "OK. OK", he said. "I'll let you go. Go. You can work in the kitchen!" After a week, he comes to me. "Yura, can you give me something from the kitchen?" He came in the back door, also. [Jurek laughing] You understand?? That's how it is in Russia. You have to know somebody! You have to have pull ! And, from the kitchen, this is a good item. Macaroni is a good item to sell. The first thing I sold was a little bit of salt for 30 rubles in the Black Market. Then I had two boys, they were making the spools for the silk. They had a special factory for that--a special shop there. So, I gave--also, Polish kids, Polish-Jewish kids, and nice boys, and we sell them oil. We had a little window where we fill the kessels with wood. So, we put the can of oil in the window, and they come by, and they took it. So, little by little, we made a nice dollar there. They got smoked fish-big fish--delicious fish. We sold these there! Whatever you could from the kitchen, we made a good--. This brought something else, other things outside the kitchen. And, we start making money. You see Communism, everybody should be even, yes? The big shots, they had a separate kitchen. They didn't eat in the same kitchen as the poor workers. One side I cooked, and lunch time I give out the portions. You know they come up to the window, and I give out the food. One boy, he thought I didn't give him enough, so he bit my hand! The head of the kitchen she started to scream, "I'll have him arrested!" I said, "Checa Yora, he's probably hungry!" "But, look, he bit your hand, there's blood!" Then, they gave posts, this kind of work, the people who were injured in the war, they came for a week, or a month, or two months. Once came a real "Ivan". Did you ever hear of "Ivan?"-- a real tall guy. He was more than a sergeant. And, he had a concussion from a bomb, or something. When he came in, he had a whole speech. "If you're going to steal, I won't stand for it. I'll persecute--!" A terrible, terrible thing will happen. Now, things could get bad. He liked to drink. So, once I gave him smoked fish to take home, he had a wife and a couple of kids. So, he said, "No, no, I'm not taking that [home]. If she wants to eat, my wife, let her come here! Here she can eat, until she'll bust. But, to take out--NO!"
Strict! So, we said, "What do we do with him?" So, we needed lumber to heat the kessels. So, three kilometers there was a market--the farmers, Uzbeks, like the Arabs, they come over. And, then where we kept the food, so we had a lock. It's NOT such a GOOD lock. With a nail you could open it. Henyik was an expert in that. What we want, we took out something, and we sold it. So, he [Ivan[ wants to buy a GOOD lock. I spoke, already, a little Uzbek, what the Arabs speak there. He said, "How much does he want for this lock?" If he told me 20 rubles, I told him 60 rubles. So, the Arab was in shock, he said, "He's a donkey!" They called him "donkey". So, that I tell you the few places we went, I thought how about a "cruska bier"--cup of beer--"would you like that?" He said, "Oh, yeah, Oh yeah!" So, I gave him a few beers. "OK. The hell with the lock," he says. [Jurek laughs] So, he bought JUST lumber, just the wood, and kept the lock. And, that's how we had to live! There was nothing special. We were single, and you know this is war! And, you're thinking, "Maybe we'll be killed tomorrow?" So, that's how we lived.

Joe: So, Michael stayed on the cooperative farm??

Jurek: Oh yeah, Michael. So, we brought over Michael at that time...

Judy: Yeah, I heard about the kitchen from Michael.

Jurek: Michael. We put him--We forged from the head of the whole complex they had, we forged the head's signature that Michael should go to work where they take out the wood for the kitchen. [He laughs again] I'm telling you! It's hard to believe what's going on! So, he worked over there, and we came. With Michael, he wanted also--so the oil from cotton, from cottonseed, it was a good oil, a tasty oil. So, Michael didn't know, so he took a few kilo of cotton oil, and he put this in some plastic something--they didn't have plastic--put in something under his cotton quilted jacket to run on the bazaar, the "tolchop" they called it, the market, to sell it. And, it starts leaking down his shirt, down his pants. [laughing]. If they would catch him--corruption, thief, thief ! And, that's what we had to live through! That's how we lived! NOW, it's COMEDY! At that time, that was the way of life! That's how we got through!

Joe: So, the time that you were there, you had no communications back home to Poland? You didn't know what was happening, or anything?

Jurek: No, nothing! Absolutely nothing. Total closed. Total closed. When they sent me to the labour camps, I sent a postcard to my parents, "Don't worry about me, I'm in a very safe place." I knew the German planes would NEVER reach us there. That's how far and how deep, deep in Russia--in the cold weather, and they received that card. One postcard I got from my parents in the Labour Camp. That's all.

Joe: And from that point on, never somebody coming in from the other side later on w/ any communication--??

Jurek: No, no. Until I came home, I didn't know anything! Because, I would have named my daughter after my mother! I didn't know. I named her after my grandmother. I had one good Polack. When I came back to my hometown, I came with my--with Stella, and the baby, Roslyn. So, I left them, and I went to Chechen. It was a big town--a German town. I left them over there, and I went home to find out from the neighbours. We lived with a neighbour, a Polish woman, she was a midwife. So, she told me--she told me the story that there's nobody left. And, she told me what happened to the people, and about their life. But, I was afraid. She wanted me to stay over in her house. I was afraid to stay over. We stayed, another Jewish boy was in the same town, and he stayed because his parents lived in that house, that Polack's house.
So, that "Krel", Did you ever here of that name, Krel?

Moshe Krel

Judy: No. [Since this interview, I have found and been in contact with Moshe Krel who lives Florida]

Jurek: Also, from our hometown. He was also at that time in town. So, we slept, and he had a gun. And, he barricaded himself. If a Polack sleeps with a Jew, they can break in and kill you. That's it. Two Polacks, I have good things. My father was good friends with one Polack, Scveskvoski. He was a policeman. And, his son--one son went with me together in the same class, but the other son, his older brother Valik, was a nice guy, and he met me. He felt sorry. A few houses away he had a bakery, "Barenski." So, when he saw me, the welcome he gave me, "AND, YOU, YOU ARE STILL ALIVE??!!?? You know--you know how you feel??? And, he--that Polack, I'll remember that, he was SO nice. He went to Kolo. In Kolo there was a man-- he was giving the refugees, he had a sister here in the United States. If I went to him, he should give me some money, and I will tell him that my Uncle will pay him back in the United States. He knew us. He knew us from Klodawa. So, I had to go to Kolo. He took me there [the Polack]. He took me there, he had a truck, and I went to Fyera was his name, and I took $150.00 from him. Because I needed--I didn't have anything. And, with the baby, we stayed in Poland. Then Michael, Michuel, lived in Lodz. I left Stella with Roslyn in Chechen. He was already on the market, selling piece goods. So, he gave me also, Michael, at that time to sell. And, I was making money already in Lodz. And, after a couple of weeks, I sent for Stella. Stella came over with the baby, also, to me. She left her parents in Chechen. And, after a few weeks there was a pogrom in Poland, after the war. This was AFTER the war, mind you! The pogrom, they killed 39 Jews! I said, "What do you expect?" And, they took off Jews from the train. The underground, the "AKAR" army they stopped trains, and whomever was Jewish, they took them off and they shot them. Because, I had a man with a sister. I knew them. They used to take--they used to buy from me the goods when I was in Russia. I knew them from Russia. He went over, they had in Lublin, they had some property before the war. So, he went over there. I gave him my shirt, he was naked. He was killed. They took him off the train, and they killed him. So, I said, "OK. It's time to move on!" So, I went back to Chechen, I took Stella, the baby and their parents, and we went to the Zionist organization. From Poland, we went to Czechoslovakia. So at Czechoslavakia the border police said, "OK, you have some money? Some Polish money?" OK, so we gave the money, whatever we had. When we came to Chechen, there was a beautiful, beautiful apartments. I came into the apartment and there was so many papers with the Swastikas, so we were sure this was no good. We ripped up everything. We were so mad from the Germans, so we ripped up the money. It was good money! We came back to the outside of Germany, it was GOOD money! Thousands, and thousands of marks! WE ripped! So, from there we went to Czechoslavakia. The Polish guard took away the money, the Polish money. From Czechoslavkia we went to Austria. So, I told you the Germans--they told us if the Russian guard comes over to us, to talk to us, to say, "We don't understand. We're Greek." We stayed in Vienna for a couple of weeks. Then from Vienna, we went to Germany. In Germany, I told you we went to Munich. From Munich we went to Dusseldorf. Then we traveled back with the baby. We registered, we lined up. And, we stayed there for three years.

Judy: Michael was also there for three years?

Jurek: Michael was in Germany. He rented a place in Frankfurt.

Judy: That's where I get confused. He lived in Frankfurt, but the photos from Germany all say "New Ulm".

Left to Right: Michael & Lienna Pizer, Stella [Jurek's wife] and Jurek Francuz, and daughter Roslyn.

Jurek: Michael lived in Frankfurt. And, the Germans, they wanted fat. So, we smuggled from one camp to the other, they killed everything on the Underground, they killed a cow, or so. They sold the fat. So, I went with a baby carriage. I put Roslyn on top. I brought the fat over there. We came home. We came to our camp, and in the evening, we cut pieces made to fat, and we put this in bottles. This I brought, I used to bring bottles to Frankfurt to Michael, and we sold it there. So, once I brought 6, or 8 bottles of fat. I had it in the--I also, took a carriage to the train to Ulm. And, the camouflage, I put a cake--a big cake on top of it. The German police stopped us. OK. What can I say? Contraband! So, he took a bottle, and he said, [in German] "Dies ist milch fuer das kinde?" Jurek says, Yah. The police says: "Du gehst zu einer hochzeit?" Hochzeit is an affair, like a wedding, or something. So, cake! So the bottle, he thought was for the baby! [laughing!] It's comic, but you go through PLENTY OF FEAR!! Do you understand???

Judy: Wow! So, you were lucky that the German wasn't so smart!

Jurek: Well, they see a cake, and a baby, and lots of bottles, and they think lots of milk. They gave me the answer! I didn't know what!

Judy: I know. You couldn't have thought a better story up, yourself.

Jurek: Yes. It was some life! A rich life. Richer than the Americans life here, huh?

Judy: Yes. A lot of stories!

***************************Joe changes videotape here****************************

I shut the cassette tape off here, as well. I forgot to turn back on, as Jurek told me about arriving in New York on the boat and being greeted by Uncle Jocheil and all the cousins. He tells of them taking him to see an apartment in Paterson. He thought it was beautiful. They all show him around. They show him the rooms, there was a crib set up in one of the rooms. Then they open up the refrigerator to show him the food inside. Jurek says to Stella, "This is so strange here in America! Why are they showing me that they have food in the refrigerator?" Then they say to him, "What do you think of this apartment?" Jurek says, "It's beautiful!" Then they take out the keys and give them to him, and said, "Here, it's YOURS!" He was overwhelmed with warmth and gratitude. This was Uncle Jocheil, Minnie and Cy, Murray and the Oppers, I think Menesha, too.

He talked about after dinner, he and Menesha went for a long walk, and talked about what he would do. He talks about going to Malden to visit Menesha and learning about the seat cover business and coming back to New Jersey , and Uncle Jocheil offering him a job at the seat cover where he and the cousins worked (Cy Francus, and the Opper brothers- Mac, Sam, and Murray).---this is where the tape resumes-----

We lived on 22nd Street in Patterson.. In no time I knew from the whole seat covers from A-Z . And, my Uncle used to go around to his neighbours--I came in August, Septmeber was the holiday. One month, he showed up for with me, to his friends, and he says, "You see, my nephew just one month, and he made the covers from A-Z!" He was proud of me."

***********tape turned over here....missed a few sentences. Resume here:

{Jurek explains how he ended up buying the shade business from his cousins after his Uncle died. .... )


.... I didn't have the money to take out a license for a new name for " "Can I keep the name, ' ?" He said, "Oh, yeah, you can keep it." So, I left the name.. And, they ask me, "Where did the name come from?" I say, "From poverty!". It's true! That's the honest truth!

One time, that supplier came over and he said, "Joe, more than $500.00 credit I can't give you.." I said, "Time will tell." Two weeks later, he comes over with a big ?macha, and said with his deep voice and accent--they were German Jews--" Joe, take as much as you want! I see you're apron is on. You have a secretary", he says, "I can trust you!" To order a table to cut the rolls, the company wanted $450.00. I didn't have the money! So, I said, "I'll make my OWN table!" I still have that table! Too bad I didn't show you that table. I have still that table. What I figured out how to make--it's BETTER than their table! And, for SO many years! I'm still using that same table. This is from POVERTY the table. And, that's how, little by litte. OK, I worked more than eight hours a day! Eighteen hours! Ten years I didn't know what vacation is. It doesn't pop out without hard work! People ask me how did you start? I tell them, "I started with ten people. These are my ten people!" (he shows his ten fingers!)

Lucas, [Judy's son], Jurek and Judy in Jurek's shade shop.
Jurek and Judy in Jurek's shade shop
Jurek and Judy at Jurek's shade shop.

See this is my story!

J: It's a good story! A very good story!

Joe: So, when did Michael [Pizer] finally get here?

Jurek: I got here before he did. She (Lienna) was after him. She wanted to get out fast, from Russia, from Poland.

Judy: Plus, my grandfather wanted him over here quickly.

Jurek: And, they couldn't come to the United States. You know why? Probably, his affidavit--

Judy: He told me it was because of the quota. My grandfather could get him in, but they only allowed a certain number of immigrants at a time and he had to wait.

Jurek: He wasn't in a displaced person camp, that's why. He brought them over to Cuba. I used to send him razor blades. Do you remember that?

Michael and Lienna Pizer. Havana, Cuba 1949.
Michael, Lienna, Mark Pizer (front to back). Havana, Cuba. 1950.
Mark and Lienna Pizer. Havana, Cuba. 1950.

Judy: I remember the story. I wasn't there!

Jurek: That's why he came a year--

Judy: He came in 1951.

Jurek: Two years later. Two years after me.

Judy. Well, they were waiting for the quota. And, when he was in Germany, he was on a list, a waiting list, he was there for three years. When he left, Menesha said, I can get you to Cuba, but I can't get you to the U.S.. So, Michael left. But, what he didn't know is that he had just gone to the consulate, or whatever, he could have had those three years transferred to his waiting time. Instead, he left to Cuba, he didn't know, so he lost that! Then he had to wait three more, because you had to wait a certain number of years to get in.

Judy: Do you know anything about the Klodawa Society?

Jurek: The Klodawa Society.

Judy: Did you go to those--all these New York people used to meet here from Klodawa..

Jurek: Oh, you mean here in the U.S...You see, most of the Klodawers are in Israel. I went to stay--in 1964 I went to Israel, so the whole Klodawer got together.

Klodawa Librarians. Ramat Gan, Israel c. 1957. L-R: David [or Benjamin] Landau, Aaron Rachwalski, Mark Pizer, Alex Epstein, Labe Landau, Moishe Rezcyk. 

In 1964 I could afford, already, to leave a few dollars for the Klodawers. I don't know how much I left, but they were very happy. They made a big, big thing with me. They were questioning, that one was from Mexico, also. I had some friends from the same town, some they went to Mexico. So, they said, one came up--you know we had a whole gathering, and I had a speech, and one came up to me, "The Mexican people give a lot of money for the Israel"...So, I said, "The Americans give to Israel." One of the men, was my teacher of modern Hebrew in Klodawer, so he say, "See, one of my students!" It was a very nice experience to go to Israel, and to meet all those people there. From our town, 320 families--there was at that time about 1200 Jews--somewhere between 1200-1500, some they had a lot of kids, also. So, that Margalite [Kreiger] they had SEVEN daughters (I had brought a picture of Margalite that Uncle Michael had) they were Murray's cousins. The family, four children, was a small family. Some they had eight, nine children. Especially, the Orthodox, they have every year with a child. So, it was a very nice experience in Israel. All those people from whole Klodawa, the Jewish population, 110 people survived!

Margalite Kreiger

In 1964 I could afford, already, to leave a few dollars for the Klodawers. I don't know how much I left, but they were very happy. They made a big, big thing with me. They were questioning, that one was from Mexico, also. I had some friends from the same town, some they went to Mexico. So, they said, one came up--you know we had a whole gathering, and I had a speech, and one came up to me, "The Mexican people give a lot of money for the Israel"...So, I said, "The Americans give to Israel." One of the men, was my teacher of modern Hebrew in Klodawer, so he say, "See, one of my students!" It was a very nice experience to go to Israel, and to meet all those people there. From our town, 320 families--there was at that time about 1200 Jews--somewhere between 1200-1500, some they had a lot of kids, also. So, that Margalite [Kreiger] they had SEVEN daughters (I had brought a picture of Margalite that Uncle Michael had) they were Murray's cousins. The family, four children, was a small family. Some they had eight, nine children. Especially, the Orthodox, they have every year with a child. So, it was a very nice experience in Israel. All those people from whole Klodawa, the Jewish population, 110 people survived!

Joe: That's the final count--110 people?

Jurek: Yes.

Judy Out of 1200?

Jurek: Between 12-1500. So. most of them are in Israel. And, now, most of them are gone already. All the older people.

Judy: There's a small group here, as well.

Jurek: From Klodawa.

Judy: Well, there was. In New York.

Jurek: There was a few. One, there was, I showed you on the picture, it was Michuel's best friend, his brother (Henyik Niehaus?) He passed away a long time ago, but his younger brother, he was in Russia all the years. Then he came back, and now he is also in poor shape. And, one was a Burdowski, he was together with my brother in the Army. And, Michuel also.

Mordchai Burdowski

He is also left yet. So, two. And, one is in--maybe 5 or 6, in the U.S.. But, the rest are in Israel. And, the number is getting smaller and smaller with age. Maybe we'll meet there!

But, thank God I have something to show. My daughter is a lawyer. Her three children, well educated.

So, I have something to show for it!! This is my payoff! This is my JOY! The children! The Grandchildren.

My son, Allen, he has learned my business and is president of the company..

Allen Francuz, Jurek and Judy at Jurek's shade company in New Jersey.

This is my reward! The children and the grandchildren!

Judy visiting with Jurek and family. March 2005.