Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Cymerath - June 8, 1982

Anti-Semitism

So, did you, you didn't go to public school then, you went to...

Public school too.

I mean...

Afterwards, after public school, the uh, cheder started around four o'clock 'til about eight o'clock in--at night.

The public school was a, with...

Polish.

Jews and non-Jews together.

Together.

Do you remember what--when you were in school any anti-Semitic incidents?

Yes uh, all the time. This, this you can't forget because since I started first uh, grade school, we were always--the minute we come--came out from school, they chased us with stones and, you know, Polish kids, and all kind of names and--this was going on all the time. And when we told the teacher that the Polish kids, you know, beat us up and--he didn't say nothing because he, he was Polish. He's not going to stick up for me. He sticked up--he says, "Well, I can't do nothing about it." That's all--this was the answer. 'Til we got about uh, ten, eleven years old, we started to fight back. You know.

Do you remember any specific times when that happened when you...

This, it was not specific time, it was all the time. Was no--even neighbors. When we went, the same kids, we lived close by, and still they, they brought it up, you know, all the time call dirty names, dirty Jews and stuff like that.

Did you have any non-Jewish friends?

Well, not close, not close friends actually. Only from school, you know.

Did you bring them home? Did you go to their house?

Well I--no. Because of, the reason we didn't go is of the, the food, you know. We tried it one time uh, and uh, they told us always at home, you're not supposed to eat the traif, you know, and the chazzar and stuff like that. No food. But when they came to my house, they ate. I mean, they ate everything. So, this was the difference. But still, I can't forget the uh, always the, the fear. We were afraid to go at night, you know, that we shouldn't get beat up. We always had to go with... not alone, never. Always with a group.

Did your father have Jewish, non-Jewish business associates?

Well, yeah. He dealed most with uh, people uh, working people, you know, came to the store and uh, because you know, in Europe was like that. You had to give uh, on credit. And the only on credit, was the Jewish people gave on credit. A Polish store never--everything was cash. But Jewish people put it on book, on the book. Uh, when he got the check, let's see uh, two weeks in Europe they get paid, every two weeks you know, the first and the fifteenth. So, they came and if they didn't have the whole amount to pay him, so they paid something, you know. And still they got credit. They took shoes again, both shoes and uh, and paid up little, whatever they could. Five dollar, two dollar, a dollar, you know. This was the only time they came to a Jew's store. Because Jews--it was even signs. Jews, if you go to a Jew, he gives you on credit. If you go to a Gentile, you got to have cash. Even the same people, the mentality, you know. They put up signs all over the city. The Jews give you on credit, Polish no credit, cash. But that's the way life was going on, you know, in, in European countries.

You said you went out; you would go out in groups too. Was there a theater, movies, what kind of...

Yeah.

things did you do before the war?

It wa...was theaters, was uh, movies. We went to the movie, sure. Yeah.

Yiddish theater?

Uh, was one Jewish uh, Yiddish theater, you know, one theater. But uh, the rest was all movie houses like here.

Were there American movies?

No, the movies was uh, from uh, German movies or Polish movies, no Americans. Very seldom. We saw--maybe all the time since they took me away, you know, maybe I saw two movies. The movies was, only cowboys movies. That, that type of a movie, you know.


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