Oral History Interview with Bernice Fishman

Bernice Fishman (née Bronia Grandens), born in Vronki, Poland in 1934; her father, who owned a clothing store; fleeing with her mother to her mother's parents in Staszow in 1939; the establishment of the Staszow Ghetto in 1940; Jewish children being educated clandestinely; being sent with her brother to live with a Polish farmer before the ghetto was evacuated; her grandmother joining them later; her grandfather and her father being sent to the Skarzysko concentration camp; her mother being hidden by a neighbor; leaving with her brother and grandmother to go to a town that was supposed to be a sanctuary for Jews; being caught by the Polish police and imprisoned for a week; being told daily they would be shot; her parents bribing somebody to get them out of prison; being hidden with her brother, aunt, and uncle by a succession of Poles in Ogrodzenie; posing as Catholics; feeling hungry often and her fear of being discovered; her four year old brother dying because they were afraid to take him to a doctor; getting sick and walking to a Catholic hospital, where she received care; being reunited with her parents in 1945; her family renting an apartment in Kielce that they shared with four other Jewish families; her mother giving birth to a girl; how her family managed to survive despite the constant fear of Polish antisemitism; how while she was hiding with the Kuchatays, she had to pose as a Catholic, go to confession, and receive communion, but never forgot she was Jewish; how after the war Mrs. Kuchatay found the family and threatened to sue unless Bernice converted legally; her family fleeing to Bytom, Poland with the help of Bernice's uncle who was in the Russian Army; the Kielce pogrom after they left; being smuggled into Czechoslovakia; going to a displaced persons camp near Stuttgart, Germany; attending a school for Jewish children where classes were conducted in Hebrew; her father obtaining an apartment in a house owned by a former member of the Nazi party; the different behavior of Poles, Russians, Czechs, and Germans toward Jews; and her family immigrating to the United States in 1950, sponsored by Bernice's cousin who was an American citizen.

Date: 05/29/1991
Interviewer: Natalie Packel
Interviewee: Bernice Fishman
Language: English
Subject: Antisemitism--Poland.
Hidden children (Holocaust)
Hiding places.
Holocaust survivors.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Personal narratives.
Jewish children in the Holocaust.
Passing (Identity)--Poland.
Refugee camps--Germany--Stuttgart.
World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Poland.
World War, 1939-1945--Jews--Rescue--Poland.
World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons, Polish.
Women--Personal narratives.
Bytom (Poland)
Kielce (Poland)
Ogrodzieniec (Województwo Slaskie, Poland)
Poland--History--Occupation, 1939-1945.
Staszów (Województwo Swietokrzyskie, Poland)
Stuttgart (Germany)
United States--Emigration and immigration.
Wronki (Pila, Poland)
Fishman, Bernice, 1934-
Skarzysko-Kamienna (Concentration camp)
Location: Wronki, Poland
Staszów, Poland
Staszow Ghetto
Ogrodzona, Poland
Kielce, Poland
Stuttgart displaced persons camp
Permalink: https://hoha.digitalcollections.gratzcollege.edu/item/oral-history-interview-with-bernice-fishman/