Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983


Did you ever talk about your experiences during the war with people here?

Yeah, I did sometimes. Not as much as I talk to you. Some people tell me, "Oh forget about it, don't talk, it's gone, it's the past, erase it." But you can't. You cannot erase those things. Can I, I erase the scare of my parents knowing that they are going to ???. I see this, I feel, I feel what they felt. Can I cease? How did my father--how did he feel when he took my sister to go to, to a concentration camp? He sees her for the last time in his life. How did he feel? How did my mother feel when she saw me the last time? How did she feel? I know how my mother felt and--when she was told that her son is dead. At that time she lost so much weight--we were so worried, my mother looked like a toothpick. She didn't have a grey hair. Until the war not one grey hair, she had pitch black hair. And then I started to see here a grey hair and there so quick. Oh, she cried night and day, that ??? was her love. We had a store and in the store--in the basement was very cold, so holidays and uh, Shabbos we kept the food that was cooked on Friday we kept there. And like my mother would bring out ??? Friday night. We had chicken cooked in soup. Chicken soup. My brother didn't like it, he liked the goose. But the goose was in the basement. So my mother would say to my father who was sitting at the table, "No, he won't eat that." My mother would say, "Oh, would you bring this from the basement please." My father would say, "Why should he eat something else and you should bother me, he should eat what we all." And my mother would said, "You know he wouldn't eat and I want him to eat." And my father would go and bring the thing. He was the only son, you know. My father--my brother didn't like fish and my father couldn't understand; what Jew doesn't like fish and on Friday won't eat fish? And my mother would say leave him alone, he as the only son. And she loved him, I loved him too. I most understood myself with my brother. I was a tomboy and he was a boy you know. And I had more in common with my brother than I did with my sisters. My sisters were younger than me and were nagging me, they wanted to go everywhere with me. My brother was with me once. I played soccer, he played soccer. And we would hide from father if he played on Saturday, you know. I would at least. My younger sisters wouldn't--they wouldn't tell him. Or I would go ice skating, he wouldn't tell my father that I went ice skating on Shabbos.

Now you have how many children?

I have two. I have a son, he's thirty, and my daughter is twenty-seven.

What do you want for their future?

Most of all, I want them to live in peace. I pray for it. I, I read a lot and uh, there is no peace in the world and I don't think other people live in peace really, even in this country. I'm very much against what's happening now with the MX Missiles. Uh, it, it, it takes away my peace. It does. And I certainly wouldn't want to go through another war and I wouldn't want my children. You know, I always say it, I wonder if could do it, but I think I would. If I would have to live through again something like this with my children I would rather kill myself and my children.

[interruption in interview]

Did you ever become a citizen in the United States?

Yes, definitely.

When was that?

I can't remember, my God. After the five years and so did my husband.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add that we haven't covered?

I can only say one thing that I said just now. I pray for peace, that's all. Peace in my land, in Israel and throughout the world. And I would like that nobody, nobody, but nobody in this world should ever go hungry, and there is no reason that people should be hungry.

Okay, thank you very much.

You're very welcome.

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