Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

Knowledge of Germans

So nobody said, um, they remembered the Germans in the First World War, the Germans were better than the Russians?

Oh, my mother remembered them, in her little town. That's why--it all comes to you--that's why my, my parents didn't want to escape into Russia, because they, they, asked us there, they prepared trains for us. My mother said, "The Germans came into our city. They were so polite. They were the nicest people. Why would--should we escape? Why should we um, run away from them?" She remembered them to--in a very uh, nice light. But they didn't know--see, our um, means of communication wasn't good. It wasn't working. We didn't have any radios, so we couldn't get the news of what's going on in Poland in, in uh, in, in G...you know, in Germany.

Had you heard of Hitler?

We heard of Hitler, naturally. Why, we heard of Hitler, you mean, during the Russian--sure, we heard of Hitler. But we didn't have too much news.

So you really--you didn't know very much about what had gone on in Germany in the thirties?

No. We didn't know about concentration camps, not at that point. Later on we found out through people that escaped. Very few, but they, they escaped.

So no one had come from Germany, say, to say, "This is terrible in Germany?"

No, no, not that I know. Maybe there's some other people who knew. I didn't, not in our family we didn't hear.

And did anyone suspect that it wouldn't be long before the Germans would--would keep coming, before they would invade?

No--well uh, it happened like--after two years, in 1941.

Yeah, but in 1939, nobody said, "They're going to keep coming, why don't we run and get away from here?"

No. No, but, but we, we heard the news. I mean, there were newspapers and some people had radios of the dealings going on between Hitler and Stalin and, and Chamberlain and all this news we heard, yeah.

But you knew about, you knew what the war was about?

Yes, sure.

The British and the French were--

Right. Well uh, when, when uh, in 1941, they didn't invade France yet, did they, the, the Germans?

That was in 1940?



Oh, we uh, we uh, about the Sudetenland when they took that...

So you knew...

Sure. We knew that something bad is coming. We knew.

You did know.


You suspected, anyway?

Yeah, of course. .


And, and the first thing when we invaded the Sudetenland that was already a terrible thing, what he did. So we knew that he's out to, to, to get other countries and that in '41, he invaded Russia, invaded--he started a war with Russia.

What did you do when the Russians came? I mean you--did you work?

No. I went--I was in school. I went to--I started--I continued my education. But we had very good times. We were--we had uh, also meetings but not Zionistic meetings. They provided all kind of entertainment and uh, you know, indoctrination about Communism and all this. We listened, but we didn't take it to heart. Because when we came home and we told our parents what we heard, they said, "Forget it, dismiss it. We don't want to he...hear about it."

What, was Zionism outlawed by then?


It was.

Zio...Zionism was outlawed.

Hm. So they went underground?

Uh, yeah, sort of underground. But the, the desire and the idea it was still there. You know, the dreams were still there, of someday uh, going to Israel.

Did you have such dreams?

Yes, very much. I was uh, in 1939, I was sixteen years old. I was already a big girl. I had my dreams about that I want.

Uh, we have a photograph of you, which we'll see a little later.


Uh, you were...

With all of your five children, the five children.

The five children. Then there's one of you with some friends.

Oh, yes.

You were what, sixteen then?

I was sixteen in 1939, yes, we were photographed.

This was before--that's before the war started, that photograph?

Before the war started, yes.

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