Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Feelings About Being Jewish

Did it ever, did it ever occur to you, as a fourteen--fifteen-year-old that all this was happening to you because you were a Jew?

We knew that absolutely.

And maybe it would have been better not to have been a Jew.

Uh, you know, that's a good question. At that time you know, everybody was thinking that it's not a good to be a Jew. Uh, a little bit, yeah. Everybody was uh, was, you know. The first uh you know, during--when I was a child in Czech...Czechoslovakia there was not a--no question about it, you know. But uh, as soon as the Hungarian came, as I told you earlier, there, there were different restrictions and we started uh, understanding. So we got used to uh, I mean not used to, but you got to the idea it's not--in Europe, in Hungary, in, in Germany--it's not good to be a Jew. Matter of fact I'm going to tell you something else, maybe it's in...interesting. Uh, there were some discussions in the camp and we had a lot of religious people uh, with us, young people mostly. Uh, mostly young people survived. And I remember that some of them, they were not happy when cursing the Munkacser Rebbe Shapira--he was a very famous--because he was such an ardent anti, anti-Zionist.


And at that time, in thirties a lot of people left uh, for Palestine, especially those who graduated from the Hebrew gymnasium. But more religious, they wanted also to go, but they had to have a sheila. And "Chulilah! Of course not! They're going to ask that eat Traife and this and you will become, no." So they, they you know, there was very angry about that. So most of them didn't go. So these guys now in camp, they saw if not the rabbi, not that rebbe, I would be in Tel Aviv instead of uh, Dachau or something. So that was a, a very, very bad feeling about this, the uh, uh, because the Munkacser Rabbi--like Satmar--there was this type of, of, of you know, very, very extreme Orthodox, you know. Haredy.

The Haredy. Did, did, did you ever talk to someone, a, a religious Jew about um, about their attitude toward God at this point?

I tell you uh, there was a common feeling when we came back you know, practically very few uh, renewed their religious practices. The first year or two there still was a synagogue open. I remember the big synagogue was open. Eh, we went to the synagogue uh, you know. But people uh, started eating Traife and, and, and those who were very religious. We were moderately religious you know, but that was before. They didn't care, most of them didn't care. Later on they-- some of them they might change their attitude. But the first years there was such a, such a apathy toward the whole, whole thing you know, that, uh...

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