Veteran Stories:
Jack Gang

Army

  • Jack Gang's Polish Army book from 1939 - 1945.

    Jack Gang
  • Jack Gang's Polish Army Book 1939-1945.

    Jack Gang
  • Jack Gang in Poland, 1946.

    Jack Gang
  • Jack Gang in Germany, 1945.

    Jack Gang
  • Jack Gang pictured as a 15 year old boy in the middle of Germany with two other soldiers in the Polish Army, 1945.

    Jack Gang
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"If you have to fight, fight, but don’t go like sheep. That’s for the future generation. Don’t go like sheep. If you have to die, die fighting. And this is what I preach to all the kids today."

Transcript

If I wasn’t there, it’s very hard to believe it. Believe me, it’s very hard to believe it. You have no idea what they used to do. Before they took us into the ghetto, me and two other kids, we went to our village and on the way home, the German, he was the governor like from this area, he passed by in a beautiful convertible with another general and we were three of us, he wanted to give us a lift into town. The other two went, I didn’t go.

When I came back into town, they used to make raids, are you listening, they used to make raids. They took all the kids. There were a school where I used to go, I had three classes before the war, where I used to go, the German army occupied it and it was like a field hospital. They took all the blood from the kids, all the blood. They used to leave them on the table. They died. The kids, young kids. I was lucky. I didn’t want to go into the car. He didn’t force me. He wanted to give us a lift. And then a few months later, they took us all into the ghetto.

Life in the ghetto? I’ll tell you life in the ghetto. We were starving. There were the Jewish Judenrat [Council of Elders] it was called, just a Jewish committee. They used to give us a little piece of bread; for the kids, we used to get half a cup of milk. From the ghetto, we used to live right by the, by the fence. So I used to go out two, three times a week, outside the ghetto. My mother used to give me kerchiefs and I used to go to the villages. I used to buy potatoes, bread, flour. Okay? Otherwise, we would have starved. The people, every day you see the people, they used to die on the street. That was the ghetto life. All the old people, women and children, there was nothing to do. There were the German, also like a, like barracks, it wasn’t barracks, but a big, big building. They were stationed there. And every day, the Germans used to shoot into the ghetto, you know, people used to walk.

So this area, I knew about where it was, but you couldn’t see nothing. They used to just practice, shooting. That was the ghetto. Then one day, on a Saturday morning, they always used to do these, it was raining, they came in with army trucks, big trucks; and they started to yell, Raus [get out], Raus, Raus. I took a look and, we were on the second floor, and I said to my mother, they’re taking out all the people. So my mother said, go upstairs and hide. Hide. And then go back, you know, you have a lot of people. I did go upstairs. I hid. They took out everybody from the building. I used to saw them upstairs, you know, the way the roof go down. They used to hit us, you know. They were old women, very old women and childrens. They couldn’t move. Used to push them into the trucks. They took them all out. I didn’t see exactly what they did, but they had prepared already outside of town the ditches where they used to shoot them all. Can you believe it?

I run away and I wound up in the woods, villages. I met with the Russian partisans. I think for about six, seven months, I was schlepping with them. Wherever we used to go in like a village, a small town, I used to go in like a lookout and report to them where the German army, where the police, how many soldiers are there. And then the end of 1943, we met with the Russian army. We were going like the Volyn Forest, you can go for a thousand miles in the forest. The Germans didn’t go into the forest, they send in the Ukrainians, the police. They themselves never went into the forests. So we met with the Russian army and everybody went into like, they conscripted everybody. I had no place to go. So I wanted to go too. So they asked me how old I am. I told them.

Anyway, the commander there, I think, I don’t remember what his name was, Bialov. He told them that I helped them a lot, like I was a scout. They took me. When they took me, we went into Dubno, about 40 kilometres. We, stayed in barracks for a few days and then they send us to Sumy, it was 300 kilometres east of Kiev. We were in tents and training for a few months. And then they send us back to Ukraine. Like we were in uniforms already and they started to, put like everybody into their details. So I was in the communications. I learned to be a radio operator and we used to go out like from one division to the next and the observation points to, in order to correct the wires, like the communications. So until the end of the war, I was a scout. I was more between the Germans and the Russians, like in the middle. We used to go out like scouting.

Not everybody had wireless. We had radios. We used to carry the wires like from one outfit to the other. And sometimes they used to break and we used to have to go in the middle of the night and connect them. And it used to be sometime in the winter, so cold, we couldn’t even connect the wires, our fingers. That was in the communications.

And I say to the kids now, my kids … I belong to the Y[MCA] for many years, we used to have [activities there], if you have to fight, fight, but don’t go like sheep. That’s for the future generation. Don’t go like sheep. If you have to die, die fighting. And this is what I preach to all the kids today.

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