Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Peri Berki - December 9, 1983

Jewish Identification

So um, you grew up pretty happy and you didn't identify yourself as particularly Jewish?

No, we didn't. But thinking back, though we didn't identify ourselves and we weren't religious, but my friends, my friends were all Jewish.

[telephone rings—interruption in interview]

Um, all right, we were talking about uh, your friends were religious?

Not religious, just Jews.

Jews, oh.

No, no one, I didn't know anyone who had a kosher home and religious in Hungary. I think in person, no I...

Was that do you think because of, maybe the wealthier Jews didn't?

The thing was we, we were assimilated Jews and uh, this is why our whole family, our whole environment, we didn't, we didn't think too much about being Jewish or not. It wasn't like since I'm in America I'm always much more aware of being a Jew.

You are?

Much more, no different... no comparison.


Because after this Hitler period I realized I was saved and I said I was reborn. I'm a Jew now. Before I was a Hungarian.

Were you aware of anti-Semitism though, as a child?

As a child, no. Until 1920, we lived in a very quiet, this side of, of the war ??? but I was very young when the First World War was. There was no crushing anti-Semitism until I was twenty years old or nineteen.

But the neighborhood, did you live in a neighborhood, let's say that was...

Mixed, very mixed. The heart of it was mostly Jewish people, but we didn't uh, we didn't consider too much, speaking about being Jewish and religion.

Um, so you obviously didn't know any Yiddish or anything like that?

Oh no, I had never met anyone who spoke Yiddish in Budapest. I had heard there was a section where very religious Jews lived and they talked Yiddish. I heard there was a section where very religious Jews lived and they talked Yiddish. And in telling Franka I always say, because we changed, we looked down on them. They were the Polacks. We, we didn't mix with them.

You didn't mix with them.

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