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Warsaw suffers constant bombing and shelling

Heinkel III bomber over Warsaw

Simha Roten was a schoolboy in Warsaw. Although he was Jewish his family ran a hardware store in the Czerniakow suburb of Warsaw, serving mainly Polish customers.

Three half-ton bombs (as I was later told) damaged the house and one made a direct hit, killing and wounding many residents, including Grandfather and Grandmother (my mother’s parents), my aunt Hannah (my mother’s sister), my aunt Zissl’s husband, one cousin, and my brother Israel, aged fourteen.

I was seriously wounded. When I came to, I found myself trapped in the rubble: my neck was caught in a tangle of lines, apparently electrical cords. I started considering how to get out, but I acted cautiously for fear of electrocuting myself; I moved the lines with leather gloves I happened to have with me. A stick torn off one of the beams by a blast was stuck in my neck, a “thorn” in my neck, piercing my windpipe. It was hard to breathe; I felt I was choking. Nevertheless, I managed to pull the stick out without losing too much blood.

I lay among the ruins, trapped to the waist. With great effort I managed to get my legs out of the debris. The German positions were about five hundred meters away, and when I got out, I saw that our house had been completely destroyed; there were no signs of life. I reached the shelter in the house next door, where I found my parents and my two sisters. Obviously, the other members of the family had all been killed.

My uncle Moyshe Krengel, who lived in our house, had been away during the bombing. When he came home, he pointed to me and said, “Who’s that?” His question made me realize that I was unrecognizable, since my face was scratched and covered with a layer of clotted blood.”

See Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter: The Past within Me