Pachulec, Walter (Wladyslaw)
Lublin (Poland), Warsaw
Pachulec was born and raised in a small town near Lublin, Poland. At the age of fourteen he went to Warsaw to find work and to learn a trade. He accomplished this in a machine shop owned by a Mr. Landau, a Jew, where he learned to become a lathe operator. The machine shop employed both Jewish and non-Jewish workers, and Pachulec, a Roman Catholic, got along well with everyone. He became one of Landau’s best and most trusted employees.
Under the German occupation of Warsaw, Landau was forced to move his shop into the ghetto and Pachulec lost his job. Pachulec went to work in a factory, now operated by Germans, producing war material. This gave him a preferred, status which allowed him greater mobility and was so indicated on his identification card. He kept this card even after he quit the job to join the underground movement at the urging of his friends.
Pachulec made several trips into the Warsaw ghetto by climbing over the wall to visit Landau. He describes the desperation and despair of the ghetto population and especially one street where he saw children sucking blood out of their fingers to satisfy their thirst and hunger. Pachulec offered to smuggle out Landau’s teenage son and take him into hiding near his home in Lublin, but Landau refused with the prophecy that what was happening to the Jews now would soon also happen to the rest of the Polish population. Pachulec made seven trips into the ghetto, sometimes taking out goods to sell to provide money for those inside the ghetto. After the war, Pachulec found out that Landau and his entire family committed suicide by drinking poisoned wine. They had given up all hope of survival and wanted to avoid the gas chambers.
Pachulec relates the incident where several Polish, non-Jewish workers at the Skoda plant where he worked were hanged by the Germans and their bodies publicly displayed for being unproductive or and for being absent from work. All employees were required to watch the hanging as an object lesson.
He also relates an incident in which two Jewish girls who were in hiding near his hometown were betrayed and taken away. The betrayer was later killed by the underground.
Pachulec also recalls the time when a former co-worker, an ethnic German, who was being used by the Germans as an interpreter in the army came back to the factory for a visit. This man happily told stories of how Jewish men were being chased onto roofs and then when they were hanging from the eaves their fingers were crushed by the rifle butts so that they would fall several stories to the ground.
Pachulec’s mother was caught when she attempted to bring his overcoat to him at the underground hide-out. She was sent to Auschwitz, where she died or was killed.
Pachulec says the training he received from Landau enabled him to get a job after coming to the United States and expresses great gratitude for that. He presents a number of documents during the interview.
Date: August 29, 1990
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Format: Video recording