Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Hasenberg Butter - September 22, 1986

Death of Father

So he, he was the first person to die on the train, which um, was a four day train ride to Switzerland because a lot of the railroad tracks were devastated and they had to make a lot of detours and sometimes the train would just sit and couldn't, couldn't go anywhere. And uh, a number of other people died on that train before getting to Switzerland. One of the stories my brother and I sometimes talk about in connection with my father's death, which I think is, is, characterizes sort of what went on, in the morning the people heard on the train my father had died and some friends came, you know uh, to see us and um, they were serving food that morning. I don't know what the food was but um, we were still very hungry. We, we probably had gotten a meal the night before but, you know, I mean, we were coming out of a, a period of very severe starvation and my brother and I um, took the food and ate it, you know, with great gusto. And um, somebody, an acquaintance came by to uh, express his condolences, this person who had been with us in camp and he said, he said to us, "How can you eat when your father has just died?" And somehow my brother and I talk about that. Frequently. How could this man say that to us, you know? Even now we uh, we're puzzled.

How did your mother react?

She didn't react. I think she was so weak, she couldn't react at all. Um, I remem... She wasn't crying or saying anything about it. And I don't know, one way I sometimes interpreted it, was that she felt that now she really had to survive and she used all her energy to survive. She didn't, she didn't grieve my father's death at that point at all because she just fought for, for her life. And she made it. It um, was a long period of hospitalization and uh, nursing but uh, she's still alive.

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