Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Larry Brenner - December 13, 1981

Reflection on Experiences

Why do you think you survived? I mean, how?

I... Lucky, luck.


Repeated luck. Not that uh, perhaps uh, the last, the Naz... the Russians came so fast that uh, they didn't have the facilities to get rid of so many people. Or maybe order was given and perhaps... Because I heard rumors that the order was given to get rid of us, but uh, the officer who was in charge, he knew that the Russians are so close and he didn't want to have nothing... he was afraid that he would be prosecuted for it, and... But I heard rumors as such that there was orders given to get rid of us.

Have you told your children the stories?

I told Melinda, my older girl because she had to, to uh, write an essay in religious school about the Holocaust and she asked me if I would sit down with her and talk to her about it. And I believe that I, you know, capsule, she was young, about, well, fourteen year old, not in details as I described it to you. Just uh, very shortly saying that, what they did to my parents and uh, how they took them away and what they did to them. And uh, not so much about me, but about her grandparents.

And she wrote a poem.

She wrote a poem, which I think...

Quite beautiful.

Quite beautiful, yeah.

And your, your other, your other child doesn't know any...

Not... She knows but uh, I, I don't know. I do teach them one thing, to speak out for their right and to be proud of their heritage. And I do tell them in fact what happened and tell them that you have to be always on alert because question is asked, and I ask myself could it happen here in this country. I would like to believe it could not. But there's such a thing as a Murphy's Law. Once it happened somewhere else, it could happen here again. And if it won't happen, the only reason why it will not happen because if people are alert. And although they say that usually people do only when the knife is in their neck, they don't do anything otherwise. But I hope that these lessons would teach them such that they have to be alert that when the smallest wind blows, then they do have to be alert and also I do believe every Jew's obligation not, for nothing else but for his own sake, to make sure that Israel exist--not for selfish reason--because if a strong Israel exists we have a refuge and God forbid anything should happen and also there is a protector, somebody who, who could speak on your behalf. Before the war was, there was a Jew in Europe was a dirt, you step on them, nobody spoke on their behalf, nobody protected them. It's only a Jew, it's like a dog, or less value for those. You know the great American government uh, as I read books after it when I came here, I don't think their interest was to save Jews at all. Matter of fact uh, it was barely interest at all. They had chances to do many things that they didn't, just to bomb uh, trains from Auschwitz or... We all know what happened. St. Louis, the boat of St. Louis, they made their turn and the book which we read, from uh, Why Six Million Died uh, by--what was the author's name?--documentation that such he knew what's going on and he didn't want to do anything because he was afraid that they were going to accuse him of letting in unwanted elements in this country. So--but I do teach my children to be alert all the time. Uh, Chicago sometimes and my other daughter is a student in NYU and taking uh, theater management.

In graduate school?

No, undergraduate.

So, they'll be back.

And uh, I thank God that I have a lovely family, lovely wife, lovely children, and good family life.

This is a good place to stop. 2

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