Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Emerich Grinbaum - October 3, 2000 & January 8, 2001


Wouldn't your father have said it was Austria/Hungary at one time?

Austro-Hungary that was before the First World War.

But your father was...

Yeah, but we--so they talk, they told us to say Czech. And we said. And they--that was probably end of May. They took us--Czechs, Czechs--in the trucks and they, through the, through, they took us to Czechoslovakia. The first city Pilsen, Pilsen is the beer cups. So Pilsen at that time, they were Americans and Russians. Somehow, there was not, not uh, they did not uh, decide who it belonged, who it belonging to. I remember they were Russian troo...the first time we saw Russians that was in, in that area. Pilsen, that was...and the American uh, uh, left us and they put us in the, in hotels somewhere in Pilsen and they give us food. I am very thankful. The Czech people were amazing how they treated us. Amazing. They were nice. They tried to help us. Later on they took, we uh, we did stay there a couple of days and then we, by train we went to Prague, closer. Anyplace, anyplace in Czechoslovakia. We didn't have money. Uh, in Prague they--we got some money from, they told us there is a place uh, that they give us some money and the--some clothes additional in Prague. But not in Pilsen. So we didn't have money. They, nobody--and when we were in the, in the busses or in the train, they, nobody ask. They saw us, they got up and they give us the place. Czech, Czech people, unbelievable.

Before the war, did you and your father or your family consider yourselves Czechs?

You know, I was eight when the Hungarian came, so I don't much--in '38.

So Masaryk...

No! No. No.

Was not a hero in your home.

No. My father speak, spoke very little Czech, he spoke Hungarian and uh, no. The majority of, of, of Jews and local population, non-Jews, they spoke Hungarian. Despite the fact that it belonged to Czechoslovakia.

Was it um, Masaryk who...

Masaryk and Beneš.

But, but hadn't Masaryk come to visit the Munkacser Rebbe once and...

I heard about that.

You heard about it, you didn't see it.

I heard. Masaryk was amazing. That was--he was, he was the number one philo-Semite I might say. And he has some ancestry, I read some of his ancestry, Jewish ancestry, but is not proven, I am not sure. But he was, he was the, the exemplary and, and Czechoslovakia was an exemplary democracy. You know, and but you know for some reason I don't know, we didn't Czech at home, my father didn't speak much Czech.

He spoke Hungarian.

No, he spoke to--we had some Czech people who came uh, mostly, mostly bu...the bureaucracy uh, in the city halls and all were Czechs. But all the Czechs, at least uh, educated Czechs, they spoke German. And my father spoke fluent German, so he communicated with the Czechs in Ger...in German. But that was no problem, you know. Czech were very open to every, every uh, Hungarian Czech they didn't care. So, uh...

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