Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eugene Arden - February 21, 1984

Trouble Communicating

That was another thing, you spent a lot of time with people even who wanted to help, sort of pointing at things and grunting and doing body English and then calling somebody over and saying, "He's trying to tell me something. What, what, what the hell is he saying?" You know. Or, "What does he want? I don't get it." I uh, and there's a, a lot of that sort of thing. Sometimes uh, in some instances I had to go through several languages. I don't re...recall if I mentioned this, we had a Russian uh, girl or young woman with us for a long--actually, she ultimately came to the States and uh, married a American here. Um, but um, uh, she uh, she learned some English from us, but originally knew just Russian and German and so I would speak to her in German. When we, when we met with some Russian, with a Russian detachment as, as uh, uh, happened occa...or with a detachment of uh, Russian liaison officers and uh, and, and--so I would--the, the commanding, our commanding officer would speak to me in English, I would speak to Galina in German, she would turn around to speak the Russian officer in Russian, he would answer in Russian, she would answer to me in German, I would turn around to the C.O.--to my C.O. and, and tell him in English. It took a long time to get through even the amenities of a conversation uh, much less anything uh, you know, very complex. And occasionally, of course, there would be things that, I mean, my German was pretty good then, but it wasn't really, really fluent. So there were a number of times that I'd have to look through a dictionary when there was a word I didn't get--I can't get this word. So everyone would stop with my little hand-held you know, pocket size uh, uh, dictionary. And uh, uh, so there was a, there was an awful uh you know, an awful lot of uh, uh, well, I wouldn't say time wasted, but things went slowly. So...

Did Lieutenant Moskowitz every make his speech?

Ah, he's marvelous. Um, uh, I guess he tried to, as I recall, no one paid much attention to him. Uh, I met him later in New York. He, he worked for the uh, uh, United Nations for awhile. And then I lost track of him. And um, uh, he never changed. He just uh, he had a, when I met him in New York he had a blue suit on instead of uh, instead of khaki suit but he was, he was very much the, the same as he was in, in uh, Europe. Uh, he got attached to us for a time. He wasn't one of the regular-regulars and then we lost track of him. When I met him in New York, I met him quite by accident. It was just one of those really weird things uh, um.

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