Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Noemi Engel Ebenstein - July 22, 1996

Separation Anxiety

Do you think the roots of that are in your Holocaust experience?

Definitely. Definitely. That's, uh, the fear, the abandonment anxiety, separation anxiety. That will be with me for the rest of my life. Uh, not feeling safe. Um, I remember when, when we went back to Yugoslavia in '46, the spring of '46, and then later on we tried to cross the border back to Hungary to joining the illegal, uh, immigration to Palestine and we were caught and we were in prison and I was separated from my mother. And I was shuffled from relative to relative. And during that time my brother left. He crossed the border himself and he was not caught. And he went to his uncle's and later on he, he emigrated to Israel through the Aliyah tanor, the youth Aliyah. Uh, but I still remember, I have a vivid recollection when he came to say goodbye to me. Again there was another separation from somebody who I was extremely attached to. So these multiple separations as a child were, were very traumatic. My daughter, my oldest, Ruthie, says she looks at pictures of me following the war. And some of them I look, she says I look traumatized. And they are actually the ones after this experience of going from relative to relative and when my brother left. That's when I was like, and I look at the pictures, it's a sad looking child. Worse than right after the war. The picture that I have here with me from 1946 where we went to Sokirnitsa, the same place where my father had the pension. We went back there as a family. And there I look pretty happy. You know, I, I look pretty good. But I think that it was, um, the frosting on the cake, if you will, in terms of the whole ordeal of being captured by the communists and being separated from my mother. Uh, my mother spending five minutes--five minutes, I wish five minutes--five months in prison.

And you stayed with?

Relatives. Different relatives. I, I remember three different place where I was during that time.

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