Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Larry Brenner - December 13, 1981


Public school was with non-Jews too?

Oh yeah, oh yeah, yeah. We were--we didn't have... Public school was, was sure, we mixed. I mean, we didn't have... And uh, it was quite hard on me because as a youngster, not only that, I was scared. Get up in the early morning... I remember wintertime, had a little lamp with uh, li... uh, candles burning on it, go through the dark. And this was scary, dark in the morning, but I had to do it. Uh, my father was very strict. It's uh, with kind of a Jewish studies, a Jewish education was the most important. Now uh, I was a youngster, I went to, to all my schools and I was kind of inhibited and, and, and I felt I needed a little more freedom because strictly going to cheder, going to school. So all the, to read a book, any kind of books uh, romantic books, anything as I grew up, it was a no-no. So, we had to do it in, in, in uh, private, so my father wouldn't see it. And I change it with boys outside to read it. Or, for example, to go to a movie cinema, it was a no-no too because there were girls, naked girls perhaps in it or whatever. You know, so it's a no-no. So we couldn't, have to go out when, when the parents didn't find out. And they did find out. You got punished for it, I mean physically.

Were you the oldest?

No, I was the second, I was the second oldest. My oldest brother is still right now in Florida. Uh, okay, life was good. This type of life we left, but uh, we had a good Jewish everything, also a good public education also. So, but in public school we always felt that, that you are a Jewish boy because uh, oh, I would say if a class of twenty, twenty-five, maybe about three or four Jewish boys. And, I had, I had a lot of payes too as a youngster. You know what payes is? Okay. And naturally, a Jew boy. It was so bad that we used to have gangs. Okay? Uh, we, in order to protect ourself uh, from cheder we, we, we had maybe four or five or six boys. We organized and we had uh, brass knuckles. And we had little wars between the Gentile boys and us, because uh, in order to, to survive, you, they respected you if you, if you fought back. If you didn't then they gave it to you. If, if we... We came to a conclusion, you have to fight back. And they respected you and then they quiet down. They, matter of fact, they were scared of you.

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