Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001


L...Let me ask you, do you think that your experience during the Holocaust had anything to do with your drive and ambition to be successful in the United States?

That's probably true for all of the newcomers. For all the people of my background, because nothing was too hard for these people. Nothing was too hard. Everything seemed to, so, so easy because, by comparison. Eh, even though, there were, there were problems first when we first came to America. A lot of people who come to the, who came to the United States had the idea that the money you can find here on streets. And they, they thought everything is eh, eh, for free over here. And they realized that eh, the only way to, to get ahead here in this country is to work hard. So there were, there were time at the very beginning. People who came from Germany for a year, they were in concentration camp, as terrible as the things were, somebody gave them the cup, the pot of coffee a, a day. And, and then in a DP camp eh, eh, eh, they didn't have a chance to work too much. Somebody was supplying the food. And all of a sudden come to the United States and you have to get on your own. You know, after being a slave for so many years, it's, it's, it's a different, it's, it's, it's a tremendous change to become an independent person.

But you it seems to me were an independent person before the war already.

I'll, I'll tell you, eh. My mother instilled in me a tremendous amount of uh, after the war she, she, uh. We got--when we met together she uh, she instilled in me that I have to uh, go to school and learn. It's the only way I go...I'm going to get ahead in my life, and, uh. She instilled in me that uh, to make an effort, you know. And I was also fortunate. I'll tell you what I was fortunate in. In Detroit, I met a friend, a fellow, an American born fellow, his name is Jerry Stone. He's still well-to-do, he's still well-off. I mean he's still alive. He's same age as I am. He went to Central High and he was a very brilliant fellow. Eh, had tremendous wonderful voice. A wonderful voice. He had the, the very, very low end and he was a tenor, eh. And we, at...became close friends at one time we began to read different books about, about eh, about human nature. Starting with Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And we used to discuss them 'til late at night. And we read books about uh, about uh, uh, thieves and uh, about, about people who make their living illegal ways, you know. I...improper ways. How to fundraise eh, which are illegal fundraisings. It's, it's uh, uh. So, so we spent a tremendous amount of time learning the human, about our human nature. It was a big help to me in a way because I understood at that time that people express always things that sound good. People always express things that sound good, but don't tell you the truth, especially when something hurts them. Eh, at that time, let's say eh, we were very young. If a fellow didn't want to go on a date, didn't have a date Saturday night, he was ashamed he doesn't have a date. He would have said possibly that he has something else to do or, or, eh. So you learn to hear things, to listen, first of all, and to hear the, what, what, what one is really saying, okay. That, I learned that so well at that time. That I became, became so eh, acute my listening to, to other people, understanding what bothered them and why they say what they say. I also understood that the apple can be red on one side and green on the other side and someone genuinely expresses thoughts which my, may be totally different because I see it from a different point of view. And eh, I, I, it, it gave me tremendous amount of leverage in my future years. So I was fortunate eh, to, to have, to be friends with this particular fellow. It helped me a lot.

But there was something that you brought from, from the war years, it seems to me.


Listening extra hard just to know what in...what instinct to follow.

I tell you, I have to give some credit to my mother and my father, okay. Eh, they came from good homes. I stated before once, my, my mother had nine sisters and three brothers. And they all were hard working. They were eh, in a small little village. They made their living off, off of the fields. My father from Krakow eh, eight brothers and one sister where things were awfully, awfully hard. So I have to give my father and my mother some credit for uh, for their genes and I acquired some of their good genes and I was fortunate to carry it on.

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