Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Erna Blitzer Gorman - July 12, 1989

Life in Metz

You went to school there?

You know, they sent me to school immediately in Metz and the first thing they did is that they this town had a school strictly for girls and I was put in there with all, and I was the oldest probably and I had to learn how to read and write, the basics of life which I didn't know and the girls used to dance around me in the courtyard, and they were calling me selgejuif and I didn't selgejuif and I just didn't understand what it had meant because I had forgotten the French. So I was told that it means "dirty Jew."And of course, I was dirty and of course I was pitiful looking because I did not have any nice clothing or, and I still had that infection on my head and whatever, but I lost control of my bladder in front of the children and that set me back totally because I was so frightened and I thought that I was again going to be going through the same thing and I decided I would never let my children be like those children. Right then, if I ever had children. No, it's true, I knew that I won't let my children become...

When that happened, did you tell anyone at home?

No. I think the teacher must have, you know the losing control of the bladder was very, you know, they were laughing and they took me -- they must have realized what was happening -- they took me out of that school and they put me into a small Jewish school which was probably just formed then, I don't know, with a teacher that I didn't like either but...[Pause]

Was there ever any talk of Palestine?

Later. Maybe the age of sixteen, but my father, you know, a lot of the people from Metz were going to Palestine. But you know, my sister was married off immediately when she was barely seventeen, to a man immediately, when we came into Metz, because my father could not feed us so she was married off to this man. That is another story. She is still married to him but it is has not worked... [Pause] But, at any rate, me, I would have wanted to go to Palestine, but you know, my body... [Pause] I still had the welts everywhere and my hands took until the age of sixteen to heal and my scalp as well. Maybe it took me this long of proper eating and I didn't even eat properly because my father could not feed us in Metz. He never recovered from those years. Maybe my mother's death or all these years of what you would call of detention of hiding or whatever. So, I had to feed him.

What did he do for a living?

He tried to do again the same thing, a merchant, but it did not work. He was becoming an alcoholic as a result of it and anyway that is a long story.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn