Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Ehrmann - May 13, 1983

Extended Family

Do you think that your family was what you would call close-knit then?

Yes, we were a very close-knit family. Uh, I think that really just about every Jewish family in our town was close-knit. I do think that our family was more close-knit than the average family uh, particularly on my mother's side. We kept up very close contact with my grandparents, my aunts and uncles uh, my uncles were dispersed. One of my uncles lived in Prague, which was uh, almost uh, 1,000 kilometers away from where we lived. Another uncle lived in Vienna, yet we had uh, regular contact with them. Every Friday, my mother would send off a postcard to every member of the family, that was a normal ritual. Uh, we visited uh, they visited us uh, children, we went for summer vacations, at least, some of the children would go every year to our grandparents, our maternal grandparents. We also visited our paternal grandparents, either for vacation or Pes...during Pesach usually uh, we went there. My grandfather, my father's parents, lived in Hungary, when we were Czechoslovakia. So, it was a little more complicated traveling there, we had to get a permit to cross the border and there was no direct transportation. We had to transfer in another city. So, it was not as easy to communicate with them as it was with my maternal grandparents. Uh, the uh, children also, we uh, aside from the uh, you know, petty fights that we had, we felt very close to each other and we were closer with each other. We respected the older sisters and the uh, my older brother. When he said something, we were taught to abide by what they said. Uh...

It sounds like your father was the center of all this. Was he the authority...

My father was the central uh, figure of uh, authority. Uh, my mother had a definite place in the family up on the top there. She was very much respected by all the children and by my father and visa versa. My father was respected by my mother. We saw that, we learned it, we copied it. Uh, there was no question about uh, obeying either one of the parents, never. Petty disobediences, yes, and we were--when we did something, we were afraid. My father didn't have to uh, hit anyone of us. It was enough if he looked at us. Very seldom if I were to uh, recall maybe three incidents when I was uh, either slapped or, or hit by my father, even punishment as such, counted few times.

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