Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irving Altus - June 2, 1982

Pre-War Plans

What were your plans for the future before the war? You started...


...out as a tailor?

Yes. My plans for the future, my mother--I remember in 1930 my mother's sister left to the United States with her family. And uh, she promised me if everything works out fine that she'll send for me. And this was my...

Your goal was...


...to come to the United States?

Yeah. Even when I was ten years old, I was born 1920 they left, I was ten years old. And a matter of fact, after the war, this, this aunt brought us over to Albany, New York.

Is she?

Same aunt. She's still alive. She's ninety-five--ninety-six years old.

Is she, is she the only one who left Europe before?

She left, she was the only one. She was the oldest from three--four sisters, my mother's side.

And why did she leave in 1930?

Because her husband had to leave uh, because he didn't want to go the Army. And that's--you're on the way, let's say.

How was he able to leave Poland?

This, this I don't know, I, I...

You were very young.

I saw him here, but I don't remember.

Yeah, you were very young when they left.

Yes, I don't remember. I knew he had to leave the country.

Was there much thought about leaving to go to Israel? Uh, were there many Zionists in your town, in your family?

Yes, but not many. And it was a little town, not too much talk about Israel. We knew some people, maybe a, a...

Wife: ???

... handful of people in, in Czekanów went like you know, they used to go to a kibbutz. I mean, the first they used to go work on farms or--but very little you know, because our city was too little and it was not--from bigger cities they had more...

Organized Zionist activity.

...organized and things. Yes, very little in our city.

Did you have like the um, Shomer ha-tsa'ir and the...

I used to belong to Shomer ha-tsa'ir, yeah, but. In like uh, ??? you know, the ???. It was a few, again, but.

Well, that was a very much a Zionist organization.

Yes, yeah, but activities you know, like to go to Israel, to--I don't remember this. Like I say, a handful. I don't even remember not one who left from Czekanów to Israel. I mean, later on, like--yeah, no, no...

Wife: ??? brother.

It's a couple years before the war. Like I say, a very--a handful. That's what I say. Like my wife, she remember two and maybe another couple.

Did you go to the Shomer ha-tsa'ir summer camps?

Yes. No.


No. I were...

Did any of your brothers? Were they involved?

My brothers, they were uh, they used to belong to the Betar. I was the only was one that Shomer, Shomer ha-tsa'ir.

How did that happen?

I don't know. It's a, one--well, I don't even know, they went like this, they were more uh, to the left really.

Well, Shomer ha-tsa'ir is a left...

No, but they, I don't know, like--something pulled them more--they wanted to go, their dream were to go to France.

Why to France?

I don't know, I see--maybe working movement, to the left, you know. I, I felt that they are pulling, like you know, to the left.

Did it seem as though most people...

Not the most.

You wanted to. No, my, I was going to say, did it seem as though most people wanted to leave Poland? You wanted to go to the United States, your brothers wanted to go to France.

I had, my dream was to go to United States because of my aunt, like I say, I remember when they left and the things. But uh, I think most of the people to have a--if they would have a choice, they would go someplace from Poland. If they would have only a choice.

Most of the people in your city?

Yes, I'm talking...

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