Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Peri Berki - December 9, 1983

Communicating with German Soldiers

And you were, again, this section was non-Jewish...

This was a very, a proletariat section.

and you were able to live there as a non-Jew.

Yeah, sure. All the time I lived as a non-Jew. Nobody asked me, nobody asked my religion, if I was free and I lived there, I couldn't have been anyone else

I see.

and I didn't look Jewish. And I, as they used to tell me, Peroshka, put on your Gentile coat. I dressed plainly and I made my hair very plain. And just, I assimilated. And I, nobody ever suggested that I am a Jew. And, now this reminds me, when we still were in this village, you know, and the German army I told you they were building the airfield. And the, the German soldiers came to this little village to buy vegetables and things like, and food. And I helped them, I was the interpreter because I talked, it was a German. But nobody suggested I'm a Jew naturally. I wouldn't be there is I was a Jew. So I helped them to, to do the shopping...

You helped...

to interpret into German because I spoke German and the peasant didn't speak German.

But were you...

Is it clear?

Yes, but did you volunteer to do this?

I volunteered.

Why? To prove your...

To help them. No, not... It, it was just natural, I was a Gentile. I never, never was afraid that I am, I looked Jewish, otherwise. I wouldn't...

But how did you feel communicating with the Germans who were enemies? I mean, how did you feel about that?

I just, I can't tell you. This was for life saving.

Yeah, so you did it prove...

Yeah, yeah.

that you were a Gentile.

And so, in fact, and after, one day when we were shopping, one of the soldiers invited for a, for a, for a beer. And I went with him into a, into a inn. It's natural.

Didn't you? You liked it?

I wasn't afraid. Yeah, I liked it. It was, it gave me a lot of satisfaction. That's why I said, I've always prided myself how well I do. This is like a spy.


You know, a spy can be a spy only who can adjust himself or herself to many circumstances. In fact, so we went with this, the reason I'm telling you, I had a reason, besides that it's interesting itself that I went and had a drink. My son was sitting at another table, and he looks there and he said, this, isn't that a Jewish boy, he looks like Jewish, 'cause he had curly hair.

Your son said that about another child.

Yeah—pardon me?

Your son said this about—oh, oh, the officer said, about your son.

About my son. And I said, but he's my son. Oh, that's different.


Can you imagine that? I'd like to say. This is how we live.

But didn't you, I come back to the question, didn't you feel some hatred for this... I mean, how could you have a beer with a German who was, you know? Didn't you feel disgusted?

This had all to do with survival. I didn't, I don't remember, I don't remember that I had other, I don't remember. I was just occupied with our...


our survival. We didn't feel for, other people. I can't...

You didn't think, you just...

I don't remember that I hated them. But when...

Did you worry?

when something happened like that, this was only that, you see they proved my theory that everybody's an anti-Semite. That, that was my feeling. This was a proof that the people anti-Semitic. Although there were people who helped us.


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