Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eugene Arden - February 21, 1984

Talking to Family

Since the war was over, have you talked, have you ever told the story to anybody, apart from the people who were in the Army with you? Family, friends, children?

Um, immediate family, I would say. You know, this isn't the sort of thing that probably discuss with uh, at a cousins club or something like that. But I guess Sandra and I have talked about it and um, uh. It comes up obliquely. She--for example, to this day won't go to Germany, you know. It's a kind of a pretty cliché--it's a trite reaction, "I won't spend a dollar in there, goddamn Germans." You know. And you say, "Well you know, you're dealing with a generation that probably wasn't even born in many cases at the time that all of this was going on or prior to when we were there when you know, the, the, the Nazis and the like." It's uh, but um, um, all that. Sandra also had some cousins that were uh, they weren't in the concentration camps, but they had emigrated from, from Germany just before--well you know, they'd have to--I think they were, they had to be brought out. And a bunch of them stayed in, in uh, with Sandra's family you know, in, in the Bronx. They come here, they had to sign that they would not be a ward of the state or something like that and, and literally they uh, they uh, they, they lived in, in uh, Sandra's mother's and father's uh, living room until they got jobs and--they were very industrious and people, didn't take long, three months--four months before they had jobs and, and they, they, they knew some English anyway and then they'd learn some more English. Right now they're all wealthier than Sandra's parents are. So, you know uh, uh, they're, they're--and then one of them went back as a uh, translator, I think in the Nuremberg trials. So there was a little bit of occasional discussion back and forth then. But um, uh, you find very quickly that um, you know, you say what you'd expect anyone to say. You almost become, it's a one thing of--I wish uh, Kahane hadn't appropriated that marvelous phrase, "Never Again" uh, because I'm not particularly enthralled uh, uh, with his approach to things either. But I must say that just the sense that, well, that's the kind of experience that has got to be kept alive. Has got to be taught and, and passed along so that--one would hope you know, really that anything would be preferable. Mass, I don't know, Masada suicide or anything, that it'll just never happen again. Uh, I personally don't believe any longer that it'll never happen again. I think it will, in one form or another, happen again. But I'd have nothing to base that on other than my own um, sense of pessimism about history and about, about people. But um, uh, for a long time I really believed that you know, the, the, the, the, the uh, lesson that was learned and the repudiation of that kind of uh, uh, public policy uh, on the part of a nation. I mean, after all, these weren't just hoodlums that were acting against the law in desecrating some Jewish temples, this was official state policy that had caused the worst of what happened then. And I really believed for a long time that that was an aberration in human history and that um, it's a sort of thing which with a, with a reasonable degree of uh, watchfulness it could be prevented from ever happening again. But uh, I, I just--I have, I have no, no such confidence now.

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