Life in the Warsaw Ghetto

In this video, Stefan Carter describes how his family moved into the Warsaw ghetto in the fall of 1940 and soon discovered that they were unable to leave. Stefan tried to adapt to his restricted life by attending a clandestine school. Source: Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, 1988



Video begins with inter-title in white text on black screen while instrumental string music plays and fades into the next frame: The Nazis decreed the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1940.


Cut to Holocaust survivor Stefan Carter, sitting in front of a dark background and looks to the right of the camera. The camera shows his face and shoulders as he speaks during an interview conducted in Winnipeg in 1988. The name “Stefan Carter” and the location of the filmed interview, “Winnipeg”, temporarily display in white text above Stefan's left shoulder.

>> Stefan Carter: In 1940, some information or orders came through that the Jewish people had to move into what was to become a ghetto.

[Music off]

>> And during that time we were aware of the brick walls that were being built …


Cut to black-and-white photograph zooming out of a scene where five men are laying bricks to build a section of the wall of Warsaw Ghetto, circa 1940.

>> Stefan Carter:  ..across a number of streets to surround the ghetto completely. There was a deadline which may have been September 1st of that year, when the order was for all Jewish people…


Cut to Stefan Carter in front of the camera.

>> …to move into the ghetto area. And I guess most Jewish people did. We certainly did, my mother and I, and my father as well. So my mother made arrangements for a place for her and me to stay with a family whose daughter was also one of the preschool group of children to which I belonged.


[Instrumental music] Second inter-title in white text on black screen: On November 16, 1940, the Warsaw Ghetto was sealed off from the rest of the city with a three meter high wall topped with barbed wire.          


[Music off] Cut to Stefan Carter in front of the camera.

>> The first day after the deadline, I remember a heavy feeling, perhaps of doom, although I don't think I articulated the thoughts or the feeling clearly. And the reason was that until that time…


Cut to black-and-white photograph of four Jewish men standing inside the Warsaw Ghetto, peering over a high wall topped with barbed wire. Other people stand or sit against a building in the background. 1941.

>> …I guess people thought or some people were under the impression that despite living in the ghetto that we still would be able to come and go. But we found on that day that the ghetto was closed and that we could not leave…


Cut to Stefan Carter in front of the camera.

>> …and that we had to stay inside.


[Instrumental music] Third inter-title in white text on black screen: In the ghetto, Stefan attended an underground school.


[Music off] Cut to Stefan Carter in front of the camera.

>> Now there were no official schools. They were not allowed, as my recollection [serves]. But there were clandestine schools organized where groups of students attended lessons with professors. And I do remember that I belonged to a group. We perhaps met in different places, perhaps in the apartments of respective professors. I do remember one specifically who was also a teacher in my school prior to the beginning of the war who taught history as well as played violin.

[Instrumental music]

>> Again for us, life was restricted, certainly, and we couldn't leave the ghetto.


Music plays for the remainder of the video. Three credit pages appear in white text on black screen: Interview conducted by Nada Rubin, Second Generation Group, Winnipeg, 1988, Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

Images: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of Leopold Page Photographic Collection

Directing and Colorization: Helgi Piccinin; Editing: Michaël Gravel, Helgi Piccinin; Audio and Original Music: Pierre-Luc Lecours. [Logo for Chaire de recherché du Canada en patrimoine ethnologique]

Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, copyright 2017.


End of transcript.

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