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Yellow Star House

Mandatory yellow stars clearly marked all Jewish residences.We moved into the small building with a large yellow star on the front door. We were one of four families crammed into that building which had originally housed just one. Each family had one room, and the kitchen and bathroom were shared by all of us. The cantor and one of the other families each had a young daughter. I became very close friends with these two girls, and we set up a play school together. The important thing was to stay busy and keep our spirits up. Our fathers and older brothers were all away in forced labour camps, somewhere on the eastern front. We shared a common anxiety about their safety, and fear for our own future. There were surprisingly few arguments and clashes considering that we were confined in such a small space, twenty-two hours a day.

After a short while, there was a serious water shortage and it became impossible to take showers. So the women set up a rotation system, whereby each family would take turns using the kitchen to wash up. A small wash basin was filled with water and served as a mini-bathtub. Carefully leaning over it or straddling it, one could perform the needed washing. It was embarrassing to strip naked, but each of us was honour-bound to avert our eyes from the “bathers.”

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