Born: 1917, Krakow, Poland
Describes the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, and his escape from the ghetto [Interview: 1992]
I was trying to hide and figure out when the action will be over, I can go to my friends in the city, and stay outside, and eventually this way I can help my wife who will be in the camp. But they were going from house to house with two dogs, and they was trying to trace all the Jews who were hiding, and I saw, hiding behind a special wall, what I was thinking will be good protection, but that later on, I found out it will be not a good protection against the dogs, I saw them pulling a woman and a child. They shot the woman and they killed the child by sli...taking the child by the legs and hitting the wall. Then I decide to step out and I knew that pro...probably, my last minutes of my life, but I didn't want to kill, be killed over there in the hiding place, and I decide to figure out how I can protect myself. And I know a little bit mentality of the soldiers, of, and the officer, that they, when somebody gets some order and fulfill the or...order, then they have to respect it. So I start to take the bundles what were laying all around on the street and put them on one, in one place, and when they came to me close enough, about four or five feet, I turned to them, and in German, reported to them that I was appointed here by one of the officer to clean the road so that the thoroughfares will be open. There were no cars there, there were not horses, there was nothing there. They start to laugh, but they figure out, the guy just got the order, so he's doing the order, so he told me in German, "Verschwinden!" This means, "Get lost." I didn't run, I turned around, clicked with my heels, and slowly left, don't even turning my head behind, because I knew when I turn my head, maybe will, will, will get a bullet in the back of the head.
Leopold was a teacher in Krakow, Poland, when World War II began in 1939. While serving in the Polish army, he was captured by Germans. Leopold escaped from a prisoner-of-war transport. Soon after, he met the German industrialist Oskar Schindler. The two became friends. Leopold was forced to live in the Krakow ghetto. He later worked in Schindler's factory in Bruennlitz. He and the other Jews who worked there were treated relatively well and protected from the Nazis. After the war, Leopold moved to the United States.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum - Collections