Biegun, maiden name Rozwaski, was able to survive the Holocaust by hiding out in various self-made bunkers in the woods. Born in Zdzieci, Poland in 1937, she was just four years old when the war began. Because she was such a young child, it is difficult for her to reconstruct the course of events but certain events she remembers vividly.
The Russians were the first to arrive in 1939, followed by the Germans in 1941. Upon the arrival of the Germans, wealthy, educated and professional members of the Jewish community were told that they were being deported for work. One hundred twenty men were selected in the first action. Biegun’s father and an uncle were among these. Instead of being deported for work, they were all shot in an area several kilometers away from the city. Local farmers came back to the city and reported the massacre. Biegun’s mother was pregnant at this time.
Biegun remembers when the baby, named Yechiel, was six months old, the Germans took the Jews outside the ghetto to a hill where there was a large grave. She remembers seeing her mother and baby brother being shot before her eyes along with other Jews. After the selection, she, another brother and sister returned to the ghetto with an uncle.
At this time, a small group of young people tried to organize and hide in an underground bunker. Jews and Russians who had been unable to escape lived amongst one another in the forest. Biegun recalls how the Russians helped her to survive. In order to avoid being found, she was forced to hide in a swamp so that the Germans' dogs would not be able to pick up her scent.
Other methods of survival included smuggling food from farmers who had made double floors in their wagons; melting ice for a water supply; and using the grease from ham as a means of healing lice sores.
Of her immediate family, only she, her brother and sister survived. When the war ended she spent time in various displaced persons camps before immigrating first to Israel, then Canada, and then finally settling in the United States. Biegun is still disturbed by the nightmares of her past
Date: November 4, 1982
Interviewer: Arthur Kirsh
Format: Audio recording
Date: September 1, 1983
Interviewer: Sidney Bolkosky
Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Format: Video recording
Date: February 9, 1994
Speaking with a group
Format: Video recording