Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Peri Berki - December 9, 1983

Jewish Dress

One incident that I remember thinking about when you were talking before, you were saying you didn't dress like a Jew.


How... How did Jews dress? What differences were there?

In fact, you know if you don't understand, that's why I didn't mention this. Used to tell me Peroshka put on your Gentile coat and bring bread. Because uh, poor, poor people dress differently than, than well-to-do people, don't they?

But did that have to do with Jewish or Gentile or poor or rich?

There were too many Jews in, in uh, in, in 250,000 Jews in, in Budapest. And this was the conception. I wouldn't say that. This is how they saw that the Jewish people were they...

Were all rich?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure, that's what they, that's what they thought, that people are, Jewish people are all rich.

So if one walked...

And I didn't even want to show it. You see, I, I was blonde at that time, you know, because I was blonde originally and became gray only in 1947 or '48. And I had blonde hair and I had this here up here in a bun. So I didn't have hair here.

You mean there was a certain way of wearing your hair that distinguished you?

Yeah, yeah.

That distinguished a Jewish person?

Not, not a Jewish

Or rich or poor.

Rich or poor, yeah the other.

So you had a plain...

??? I worked here at, at King's restaurant as a bookkeeper in the bookkeeping de... department. I should not say that I should say something else. So I went in to, to have an interview and the head bookkeeper she was a, she was a woman German origin and she hired me and became very, very good friends, very close friend. To her, with her she was a German Gentile, with her I could speak as open or open as I talk to you. Because she started to say, she started that in Germany, the anti-Semitism started to arrive because the newspapers, the banks they were, they were all...

Brainwashing people.

Pardon me?

Brainwashing people. No?

No, no, no. They were all in Jewish hands.

Oh, I see.

The banks and the film industry. And the, they were the, the rich people, that they were all... This economic jealousy actually. And she told me I hired you because the moment you walked in I noticed that you are Jewish. You see? And they never, during the war nobody ever su... suspected.

She knew the moment you walked in that you were Jewish? Did she say what, what about you?

No, she just, she say that she could tell it. But I didn't have my Gentile coat on and my Gentile hairdo. It means something, you can be a different person. As my, my friend said, it had nothing to do with me but it was sad and sorry that she, she was in concentration camp in Auschwitz. And you know they short the hair, how you call it?

They shaved the head.

Shaved her head totally. And she said when they came out from the barber and they looked at each other, they had laughing fits.


They looked so different. It makes a lot of difference how you dress, or how...

I, I find that interesting because I haven't experienced um, feeling Jewish when I'm... I other words I don't have the experience of, of feeling like that, or feeling different or something, or being judged.

You haven't?

I have, but not in a constant way. So I'm not conscious of that, but.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn