Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

Mother and Father

In the store or...

In the store, yes. And in, in the marketplace, they used to bring all their wares, you know, all kind of mushrooms was a very big commodity or um, the, the seeds that oil was done from it and other items that he used to buy and send deep into Poland. So--because from the grocery alone we could not make a living.

So, so he was an entrepreneur?

Yeah, in a way, in a very small way, he was an entrepreneur, yeah.

And your mother, what was she like?

Oh, my mother. My mother had a very, very hard--they all had--they--both of them had a hard life. Can you imagine having to get up four o'clock in the morning and getting ready and oh, cooking dinner and preparing everything and preparing the children to go to school. She had a very tough life. And then she--right after the kids went off to school, she went to the business. She went to the store. And when I got older, I was about eight, I already worked in the store. We all helped out. We all chipped in. My father, by the way, was an invalid from the First World War. He lost his four fingers from his right hand so he only had one thumb. He couldn't do any physical work.

So he...

I mean, he did, very, very hard.

He fought in the Hapsburg Army?

He fought in, in the Russian Army, in the Czarist Army, when the war was going on between Austria and, and Russia.

So he was in the Russian Army.

He was in the Russian Army, yes.

Um, what was she like?

My mother?

Yeah. Tell me what she was like.

My mother was a typical Jewish mother, you know, very much--very much uh, uh, uh, concerned about the family. She was a very smart lady. But they were--both of them were not educated. They were only educated Jewishly. But they are most--their biggest concern was to educate--the children should get an education. Even though we had some--a lot of chores to do in the house, but they demanded we should come up with very good, high grades in school. And uh, um, she was uh, in Hebrew there's a very smart expression, an, a um, Ezer Kenegdo she was a helper for my--to my father. She was not a housewife. She was actually half of the business. She does--she did the business and she did household goods--household work.

And what kind of a relationship did you have with her?

Oh, we had a very loving relationship. As, as a matter of fact, when, when it came to the end, she cried. I'll never forget that. She said that she worked so hard all her life, she raised a, a, a family of five children and now, when she can really reap the harvest, so to speak and, and really have it easier, because the children are older, so she says, "See, they're killing us." My mother was a very brave person. She was a hard worker, always, always doing something. On Friday night, she used to say, "Oh, thank God for Friday night, I'm able to relax." Because she used to work from four o'clock in the morning until about ten o'clock in the evening. You know, we did all our things--she never sat--I never remember my mother sitting idle not doing anything. We had our own geese, so we used to--when we used to slaughter the geese for, you know, to have the meat, we used the feathers to--for our own good, you know, to make pillows. Then we, we brought dried mushrooms and we used to put them on a string. Oh, she used to sit and mend the children's socks. Always doing something, always doing something. Very hard worker. And she died--by the way, she was killed when she was forty-two years old. That's how old, how--and--but she--when I, I--the way I remember her, she looked old. She used to go from the store--our store was quite a ways from the house. And I used to say, "Mom, why don't you hurry up?" She said to me, "Wait, when you'll be my age, you'll see that it's not easy to work."

And your father, what was...

My father was--I mean, he suffered a lot. He--you know, he was an invalid. And he, he had lost an awful lot of blood. The reason--actually, one finger was shot off, but by the time they brought him into the hospital, he had an infection, so they had to cut off his four fingers. Can you imagine getting married and having a family and not being able--he was a um, carpenter before the--before he went into the army. But he couldn't work as a carpenter, so he had to get into business, go into business.

And you and you said the whole family helped in the business?

The whole family helped. My, my two little sisters, were very young yet when they were killed, were about eleven and thirteen.. But my father was about the same age as my mother.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn