Renee Rimpler (Part III)

As told to Mrs. Chaya Feigy Grossman

How long did you remain with the gentile family?

One day while I was living with the gentile family, the husband approached me and told me that I would be leaving his home and moving in with another family, a young couple who had no children. I was not too excited to leave, but I wasn’t being given a choice. He explained to me that the Germans were coming into town and he may have to run; chances are they will not survive.

I will say that living with this young couple was a nightmare. The lady of the house never allowed me to go out. Then one day, she announced that she was taking me out on the street to the market. In the market I wandered off on my own, and suddenly I noticed a girl by the name of Raizel, whom I knew. I stopped to speak with her, and she told me that she was living with my parents and had gone out to shop for my mother so that she could cook for Yom Tov. I begged her to take me back home with her. I went home with my mistress and a few days later she came to pick me up. I joined my parents on Erev Sukkos, with a promise never to leave them again.

My parents looked completely different. My father had no beard, for all the Jewish men were forced to shave off their beards. My mother had dyed her hair. She disguised herself as a goytah. A few days after Sukkos we went to the woods.

Once the war was over, where did your parents settle?

My parents returned to Mikulascz after the war. The people from Kezmarok who had returned to their town after being in concentration camps begged my father to come and be the Rav of the town. My father brought a shochet and built a yeshivah there. By now I was around 11 years old. I attended a public elementary school in town. We were a small group of Jewish children, but the rest of the children in the class and, more importantly, the teachers, were very anti-Semitic. I recall my teacher taking a long thin stick and hitting us on the tip of our fingers where it would really hurt. We had to attend school on Shabbos. My father wrote a letter to the principal requesting permission for the Jewish girls to be excused from writing on Shabbos. They respected my father, and we were granted permission. The teacher was a real anti-Semite and gave us double homework on Monday to make up for Shabbos.

My father arranged for the Jewish girls in town to be taught in the afternoon. We learned how to daven and about the Yamim Tovim and so on … We were also taught how to write Yiddish.

My parents did many other chassadim as well. They would continuously visit the people who had been thrown into jail. My father himself was thrown into jail for two nights for helping to save Jews. It wasn’t too long before the Russians arrived and the town became communist.

What do you think would be the main lesson that we can learn from people like your father and Rav Weissmandl?

I would say that first and foremost would be to have mesirus nefesh for another Yid. Treat everyone kindly and have lots of bitachon. My father never held a grudge against people. My father never got angry. And all this led to his success in helping others.

These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.

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