At the age of 9, Dorothy Greenstein and her family moved into one of the three ghettoes in her town. Food was very scarce and the living conditions were a drastic change from the home that she had grown up in. Dorothy was under the age of 13, so she did not have to wear the star on her clothing that marked her as a Jew. Because of this, she was given an extremely important job. Every week, she hopped over one of the fences surrounding the ghetto and went to buy extra food from stores in town; she got away with it because of her fair hair and perfect Polish. Dorothy bought food for her family to supplement the small amount given to them by the Germans for two and a half years.

            One of Dorothy’s older sisters lived in the Warsaw ghetto with her own family. When Dorothy was 10, she went to Warsaw to bring medication to her sister’s son, who was coughing. It was more difficult for her to enter unnoticed – she had to crawl through a tiny hole in the wall. She stayed for two weeks in the Warsaw ghetto with her sister’s family, before returning to her own family. She took an express train that went straight to her own town, so she did not run into any Germans on the way there. It was much easier for to get back into her own ghetto because the Germans only watched the entrances, and no one thought much of a fair-haired girl climbing a fence on the side.

            The sister who lived in the Warsaw ghetto had owned a store for women’s clothing; another sister of Dorothy’s took over this store after she had left. One day, this sister was delivering a purchase to the wife of the police sergeant in town. While she was at the house, the police sergeant told her that the Germans were planning to resettle all of the Jews. Dorothy’s sister immediately went home to tell her father about the coming resettlement. Dorothy’s father was an optimist. When the Germans told them to turn in their furs, he told his family to obey without complaint because it could be worse. When the Germans told them to turn in their leathers, he again told his family to obey without complaint because they would get by. However, when he learned of the supposed “resettlement,” Dorothy’s father knew exactly what was going to happen. Dorothy stopped leaving the ghetto to buy food for her family because it was simply too dangerous. At this time, one of Dorothy’s brothers was already in a war camp. Another of her brothers, who was only 17 and already a rabbi, had been in the same camp, but had come home because he could not adequately keep kosher there. He got away with it because he was an albino and could pass for being Polish.

            Dorothy’s father sent her and her sisters to their Polish friends in an attempt to save them. She went to a family friend who took her in and fed her. She spent the night at this woman’s house, but was woken at 6 o’clock in the morning and told to go home because the danger had passed. Dorothy saw the Germans approaching as she ran towards the ghetto, but she took a shortcut to get to her parents before they arrived. Her father immediately sent her to the police sergeant’s house to hide with her other sister.

            She ran quickly, but had to go over a different fence than she was accustomed to in order to get out of the ghetto. It was a chain link fence, with Germans stationed regularly every ten feet. She started climbing the fence, but couldn’t make it over because the fence was too difficult to climb. A German soldier saw her and came over. However, when he saw her fair hair and she addressed him in perfect Polish, he assumed she was Polish and helped her over the fence. Dorothy ran to the police sergeant’s house and hid with her sister under the bed for the whole day. When it became dark, the police sergeant and his wife turned Dorothy and her sister out of the house.

            Dorothy went to stay with her brother at the labor camp where the Germans were forcing the Jews to make roads for them; at this point she was still only 11 years old. She hid in the barracks, hiding herself under a blanket on the top bunk when the Germans came to count the prisoners. She was there for two weeks, but in the beginning of the third week, the Germans brought German shepherds with them. One of them stopped by the bunk she was hidden in, but did not bark. However, after the Germans left, the Jewish overseer told her that she had to leave because she had come too close to being discovered; if they found her, the Germans would kill both her and the overseer for allowing her to stay.

            Dorothy’s parents and her brother, the albino rabbi who had left the labor camp, were sent to Treblinka. Dorothy’s sister Rachel had escaped to Hungary, and Dorothy had no idea that she had survived until after the war. Dorothy’s other sister, Tamara worked in the kitchen at the labor camp. When Dorothy was forced to leave, Tamara gave her the address of a certain farmer and told her that they’d meet there if they survived.

            Dorothy left the labor camp and went to a different farmer’s house to spend the night. They heard shooting in the forest, and Dorothy was afraid because she had no way of knowing whether her brother and sister were a part of that group or if they were still alive. The farmer’s wife became afraid, so she sent Dorothy to a corn patch to hide. It was the middle of the night, and Dorothy was disoriented so she fell out of the attic, but was luckily unhurt. She followed the instructions of the farmer’s wife and hid in the corn patch; it was fall and cold, but she stayed warm because she had a good coat.

            The next day, Dorothy was still hiding in the corn patch when a Polish forest ranger walked by with his dog. The dog barked, alerting the man to her presence. He asked Dorothy if she was Jewish, but she said that she was not, hoping that her light hair and perfect Polish would fool him. However, the forest ranger did not believe her, and he demanded money or else he would take her to the Germans. Dorothy again said that she was Polish and had no money to pay him with. He began pulling her down the path, when they ran in to the farmer’s wife who had instructed Dorothy to hide in the corn patch. The farmer’s wife began yelling at the forest ranger, telling him that Dorothy was not Jewish and that he had to let her go. The man let Dorothy go and went on his way, but the farmer’s wife told Dorothy that she could not stay.

            Dorothy had no money to take a train and did not want to risk getting caught again, so she decided to go into the forest. She took off her wooden shoes because they made too much noise, and she began to walk. During her journey, Dorothy walked over a mound of earth that seemed to move. Later, she found out that it was a mass grave holding people that the Germans had shot, and the moving she had experienced were the people still alive within it.

            Dorothy spent the night in the forest and in the morning she heard farmers getting ready to sell food, so she decided to venture out of the woods. Incredibly, Dorothy had managed to walk to her own town, even though she hadn’t known where she was going. She recognized the hut of their former Polish maid, Pavlova, so she went to ask the woman for help. Pavlova agreed to keep her, but living there was difficult and frightening. The door did not have a lock, just a simple latch, so Dorothy had to run and hide under the bed anytime anyone knocked. The straw mattress was full of bugs, and Dorothy sometimes had to hide there for hours, unable to move, sneeze, or cough. After two weeks, Pavlova decided that Dorothy had to go.

            So Dorothy made her way back to the other village, walking by the train tracks because she had no money for the train and did not want to go through the forest again. While walking by the train tracks, Dorothy encountered two men. They knocked her down and were going to rape her, but Dorothy told them that she had just been released from the hospital and was still sick with some strange illness. They let her go and she continued on to the other village. She remembered that her sister had given her the name of the farmer at whose house they were to meet, so she found his house. However, it was still day, so Dorothy hid under the rhubarb leaves in the garden until it was dark. When night came, she knocked on the farmer’s door to find that her brother was there, as well as her sister Tamara and Tamara’s husband, Marek. The farmer let them stay in the basement. For one and a half years, Dorothy lived in the basement with Tamara and Marek. The farmer’s wife would not cook for them because she did not want their children to get suspicious and find out, so the three lived on sauerkraut and stale bread.

            In 1942, Tamara gave Dorothy some money and told her to go to the church in the village and ask for a new birth certificate. Dorothy followed her instructions, but was denied a new birth certificate. However, the woman at the church told her to go to the cemetery in the town that was a train stop after Warsaw. Dorothy took the train to the town and found the cemetery, but there were German soldiers doing training exercises in the open space in front of it. Dorothy walked around the edge, maintaining a calm façade and ignoring the soldiers and their dogs. She found the grave of a baby who had died and, after taking the name, the date of birth, and the parents’ names, left exactly the way she had come. At the church in the town, Dorothy told the lady that she was sent to get the birth certificate, but the lady would not give it to her. Finally, Dorothy said that she had to catch the train because she had no place to stay at curfew. The woman believed her and sold her the birth certificate for twenty-five cents.

            Dorothy then took the train to Warsaw, where she bought a newspaper to look at the ads for mother’s helpers. She went to the home listed on the first ad, but the woman told her that she was too young. Dorothy asked the woman to keep her for a month without pay, and if she still felt that Dorothy could not handle the work, she could send Dorothy away. The woman agreed, so Dorothy moved in with the woman and her family. She worked very hard for two weeks, making sure to do all of her chores perfectly so the woman would have no complaints. However, after two weeks, the lady came home early from work and asked Dorothy if she was Jewish. Dorothy replied that she wasn’t, and told the woman that she could check the church’s registry in the next town if she still wanted proof. Yet Dorothy worried, knowing that if the woman did actually check the registry, she would find a date of death next to the name that Dorothy had assumed.

            So, Dorothy stayed up all night finishing her chores and cleaning the apartment. When the woman left for work in the morning, Dorothy left. She found another ad and went to listed address, where the woman again told her that she was too young. Dorothy made this woman the same offer, saying she would stay for a month without pay and, if her work was not satisfactory, she would leave after that.

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