The Ghetto

Piotrkow, Poland

In 1940, Sidney’s mother and sister came back to the family. Sidney did not really care ever since they both abandoned him and his father. His mother sewed on a yellow patch on his jacket with a J on it to indicate that he is a Jew. Even though they were in the Ghetto, many of the Jewish religions carried on and were continued. They had Sabbath on Saturday. Eventually the ghetto had been completely closed and people were not allowed to leave without special permission. Jews caught outside of the ghetto were shot. The biggest industry in the ghetto was smuggling. The smugglers took a terrible risk because if they were found outside the ghetto they were faced with certain death. Many smugglers would smuggle any supplies into the Ghetto like food or other necessities. Sidney sister, Ronia, lived with her husband while in the Ghetto. The family got the news that Ronia was pregnant with her husband. Normally Sidney’s family or any other family would be ecstatic that a member of the family is bringing new life to their family. However, as Ronia was a Jew living in the Ghetto, being pregnant was against the law. Ronia and the family was afraid for Ronia and the baby’s life. Nonetheless, Ronia was really happy to have a child. In 1941, 10 year old Sidney became an uncle to Ronia’s child. Ronia had to sneak out of the Ghetto and pretend to be a Pole to give birth to her child at a Catholic Hospital. Tragedy struck when someone informed the German Gestapo that there was a Jew pretending to be a Pole. The Gestapo discovered Ronia outside the ghetto a couple of days after giving birth. Ronia was shot dead in a cemetery by German officers after they had thrown the child out a window. For months no one told Sidney what happened to Ronia. They felt that lying to him was better but eventually he found out the details. Sidney dropped and cried for a long time. Sidney’s parents try to comfort him and eventually cried with him, but he didn't want them near him as he just wanted to be left alone and to cry on his own. this was the last time that he would feel enough to cry. Eventually in 1942, Isaac got back home from a German hospital after being shot and wounded at the beginning of the Poland invasion of 1939. He traveled back to Piotrkow by train. Isaac was able to travel back to Piotrkow with the help of some of his friends he made through school and through the military. He was crowded and welcomed by the entire family still wearing his Polish Army uniform but also wearing a yellow patch on his arm similar to what Sidney and the rest of the Jews had to wear. Sidney felt more secure with his brother being together with their family. By this time, Sidney and his family had lived in the Ghetto for almost three years. The Ghetto was getting crowded with new commers coming from different parts of Poland. The Jewish Council tried their best to accommodate everyone, but it was getting too much. Many had to sleep in doorways and outside. Eventually, other Jewish Ghettos where being liquidated and the Jewish populations of these towns were being loaded into box cars that were heading North. The Nazi authority in Piotrkow told the Jewish Council that these trains were going to a new labor camp out East. The Germans said they would consider leaving behind 1500 Jews who would work for the German war effort in factories. Rumors got out from people who escaped the camps saying that they were not labor camps but in fact death camps. 90% of the Jews in the ghetto were herded into cattle cars and shipped to their deaths in the Treblinka Concentration Camp. The family’s best chance at surviving the war was to obtain work permits to be valuable to the Nazis. Isaac was only able to obtain two work permits for himself and his dad. Sidney wasn’t able to obtain one since he was only 11 at this time and you had to be 13 years of age to obtain a work permit. On October 14th, 1942 the Germans lined up all the men, women, and children into lines with all males on one side and all children and women on the other side. Sidney’s father and Isaac hid Sidney behind them so he could survive since he didn’t have a work permit. One of the German officers saw this, and Isaac pleaded to let him stay while giving the German Officer some money. The German officer agreed and let Sidney stay with them after checking Isaac and their father’s work permit. This is what prevented Sidney from being sent to a death camp like so many other victims. Sidney’s mother Faiga and sister Frania were among the victims. Sidney, his brother Isaac, sister Lola, and father Lieb remained in the ghetto as they were working. Isaac, Sidney’s father, and Sidney all worked in factories to help the German war effort. The factories had 20 workers who were all adults with the exception of Sidney being the only child.