Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irving Altus - June 2, 1982

Disposition of Family

Exactly what happened with each person and where they went?

Yeah, yeah. When they say, when they say to me "Irving, I don't think anybody from your family's alive." And I knew it's true. So I just hope maybe they made a mistake. Maybe somebody will survive. You know, you know. It did happen. But like I say, ninety--ninety-nine percent it was true. I just had hoped maybe...

You sort of knew what you're saying before--even during the war you sort of...

Maybe, everything maybe. But we knew. And we were there in our little town in Czekanów. The five of us that came from Theresienstadt. Uh, somebody did find somebody, you know. And, and we were debating what we are going to do now. What should we do? What should we do with our lives now? It's no future there. The Polacks didn't like us. When we came in--this probably you want to know too--the only thing you hear, "How are, how are you alive? How could you live through all this?"

Wife: You're still alive?

"What--you, you are still alive? What happened?" You know, they didn't say, "Why did they kill you?" But, I mean, they were saying, you know, "Why, why didn't they kill you. Why are coming here, to, to, to get your place back?" Or, you know, if somebody had a business or you had your home, or--they were so shocked. So they didn't accept you as something you know, like a fellow citizen. You born here and raised in this little town for twenty years. Some of them older and thing. They just was surprised that you are alive. And we could read this from their faces, from the foreheads. And we made up our minds, we were there a week, like I say, whatever, two weeks. What should we do. So we decided we are going back to Prague, Czechosłowacki or Munich because we knew that the Joint or whatever, some organizations. Either we'll go to Israel or we'll go to America. No more Poland, no more Europe. The five of us, my friends, this is what we talked between us. We are not going to stay in Europe. There is nothing for us to see. And you know after you left, everybody--it's, it's, it's a terrible thing to be there. You have to go make a new life. We left, we left back, we came into Prague. And it was a big Joint distribution center. Big. Probably it was like a, like I would say, in the Jewish Center or another--very big, with uh, places to sleep over and a little bit of food. Not bad you know, not--I mean, you could live on it, not like in concentration camp. You are a free man. And whatever you needed--you know, of course, it's--they cannot give everybody you know, free thing as much as you would want or thing, but not bad. And uh, from there, from the five of us we met other people. So some did through the Joint. A couple of them the, two, uh, one of the ??? brothers left to Israel. A couple other people left to Israel. Then the rest of us--and some other people which we knew, not Lanzmann's from our city, but just people which we met in camp. So we went from, from uh, Prague we went to Munich. They say that Munich is another big city from the Joint. Which you, just like Prague, you can go--whatever you know, whatever you want to go or you can, but uh, you know. So I went to, with two other fellows. And, because--why I went there is like a cousin of mine from concentration camp left. A...another brothers--a son. Not the one which is in Israel, left through Auschwitz too. And they told me--I never saw it. I didn't want to believe it. They said that he is in Munich.

Who told you this?

Some of the people, because a lot of things were saying, you know, you are alive and he's alive. And you just hope that it's true. Because it was a lot of disappointments too. You came there and they say, "Who told you he's alive? He--I know he's not alive." And I went because they told me that it's a cousin there and I went with two other guys and I went to Munich. I wanted to see my cousin. And we came there and he was alive. I met a cousin. So I was with him and uh, he already, he already had his place you know, a little apartment or a little rooms, whatever. And he already did something to make a living, besides from the Joint. Not too bad. And I already had a place where to work in, to sleep and everything, and uh, was very happy to see him. And I saw some other people there and uh, he already did some business. It was free you know, in uh, Germany the, the Jews could do whatever the, not you know whatever you wanted to do you know, everything in, in the limit you know, it was a government and police. I mean, it was not just free, you go around and do whatever you please, but it was not bad. You could do a lot of things, kosher like I say or not kosher. You could make a living. And I was very pleased and after awhile I think uh, he got married. He had a wife and it was a little bit, you know, more a family. And then I start doing, I don't know if I--if you want to know about it here, you know you start going to Germany. Maybe it shouldn't be, I don't want to. You know, it was not kosher to...oh, start going to Poland. A little bit smuggling and things. I don't think...


[interruption in interview]

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