Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Biegun - August 10, 1983


Um, we'll try to um, see if we can um, summarize a little bit. Maybe, maybe you can tell me a couple general things about your feelings about the Holocaust and after. Uh, why do you think, as a small child, you survived? Have you ever thought about that?

I thought a lots about it, you know, that--but then, I really don't know. Maybe it was luck. Maybe, maybe it was will of God. Maybe some--was still nice people, that, you know, somebody should survive and talk about it, so it wouldn't happen again. To remind people, it's not what, what some crazy guys goes around, it's never happened, it's a bunch of lie, and this. It's easy for people to sit here in this country they, you know, and they never lifted a finger to help us, and judge other people. But it was. It happened. So maybe that was, so somebody should go on and, you know, like young kids like in the colleges, they go around hollering, this was not true, this not--they don't know how to appreciate America. Because here you could holler and do anything you want. Nobody puts you to jail or fights with you, and stuff like that. They don't know how to appreciate it. So maybe that's why I survived, or more, a couple people like I am today.

Do you think you've told me the whole story?

If I would sit and talk, it would be more and more stories because each time, you know, little things come so fast, but you cannot sit and constantly talk about it.

Is it easy to describe, do you think, once you start?

I don't know. In the memory, you know, you could see everything, but it's hard. I mean the running, the shooting, no food, sometimes you have to sit in the forest in the water. I mean, night, I pay for it, you know, I'm paying for it because I have trouble with mine feet. I have trouble with my back, you know, it starts. Like the doctor says, little things repeats after so many years. But, I don't know. Sure, there's plenty more, but can't talk about everything.

I'm going to ask you two things.

No. When I sit and talk to you now, if I put mine head good, you know, and close a little bit mine eyes, I could see the way we were running in the forest, you know, or the ghetto. You know, my sister says she can't believe how I remember things.

Is that what you used dream about? Running?

In the beginning, I used to dream. Just a couple years ago, I stopped dreaming. Oh, I dream once in a while if I talk about it um, fighting, running, you know, shooting. You know, tying mine kids to us--take away, I, I thought, they come to kill them. You know, stuff like that. ??? nightmares.

Let me ask you two, two things. Um, one, I want you to tell me a little bit about your two daughters, just a little. What they're doing now, how old they are?

Oh, I think I said before.

Well, tell me again.

Okay, the older one married a nice Jewish guy in May, okay? And she knows all about the Holocaust and stuff like that. She was in Hillel, you know. She was a couple time in Israel, too. From Hillel she went to Israel. And then ???, and then she worked ???, I mean she's working with the mentally retarded kids. I give her the guts to do a job like that, you know. She runs a home. I don't know how she does it, but she has the guts doing it. It's depressing. And she's pretty good. Once in a while when the holidays comes, you know, I could say, you know, people didn't have this or there is a movie on television we could discuss. And she's very sensitive. The younger one, she goes to Michigan State, 'til now she was listening, but not so quite openly, you know. "Mother, you're in America. Try forget it." Now that she was away from home for four years, and it's--you could feel if you are a Jew, you know. Special, in Lansing, on campus, no matter what, once in a while, you could feel. They let you know, okay? And she lives in the house with non--Jewish people, but they all talk about religion and stuff like that. I told her she should never be ashamed that she is Jewish. She should stand for her belief. Not to get mixed up if--in wrong things, but if somebody says something, she should stand up for her belief and fight for it. I told her. Maybe I am wrong. But you have to stand up for your belief, and if you're Jewish, that's nothing ashame. We are human like everybody else. It's not my fault I was born Jewish. It's like not somebody else's if we are born green or yellow or black, I mean. You know, so if somebody steps over the line, she lets them have it. And I'm very proud of her. So now, she's taking the courses about the Holocaust. Like she was home for the weekend. She brought me a whole bunch of books. You know, I mean, it was nightmares, I said, "Lisa, are you sure you want to take it?" She says, "Yeah." She says, "So I could understand you better." So I'm very proud of both of them, you know. And they both, I mean, they wouldn't get in trouble or something like that, but if somebody would tell her, "dirty Jew," or something, they would fight, they would give it back. In a polite way, but they would let them have it.

Well, obviously, you are very proud of both them, and you should be.

No, I'm very proud of both of them, and I told them. I say, "Never in your life, no matter where you go, no matter where you travel, keep your head up high." And I'm not ashamed, you know. You know, a lots of people, you know, these are not. I was in Winnipeg with--and in Winnipeg, there's a lots of, you know, German Nazis with swastikas on their arms. I had a next door neighbor, and I wasn't, you know, they took me for Italian. Oh I spoke Russian, so they didn't know who I am. I used to confuse them. I worked in a factory, and then I figure--they used to ask, and I didn't come in for the high holidays, you know, and they asked, and I say, "Yes, I'm Jewish." And they says, "Can't be. You don't look like it." And I say, "How does a Jew supposed to look?" You know. I was, I never hide, no matter where I go and where I travel, I don't hide, and I'm not ashamed I'm Jewish. And I think my children shouldn't be either.

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