Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Gun - August 12, 1999

Telling Story

Let me ask you a question about this, did, did, did they ask q...questions about your experience during the war? Did they want you to tell them the story?

They did, in a way. Mm, not that much. And I used to sort of--I think it was a combination of both. I don't think they were that inquisitive. Because if they would of, I probably would have talked probably more. But I don't think they were that inquisitive and I wasn't that anxious to talk, so I think that made it that were--we didn't talk too much about it.

Did you tell anyone what happened?

Very briefly. Didn't go into details. Even kids in school used to ask me, you know, especially after I had my article in the paper and I became a celebrity. I was the only Holocaust survivor in the vicinity. And uh, everybody would ask me. "Hey Jack, how did you, how did you survive?" "Oh," I said, "it was war." I said, "I just went through the war, survived." Uh, first of all, like I say, I didn't want to talk. And second of all, I felt that they couldn't understand me.

What do you mean?

What could they understand if I tell them I was in bunker? I mean.

You don't mean the language problem.

No, no.

You mean they wouldn't understand?

Understand what I went through.

'Cause they weren't there.

They weren't there. An American kid, how could he understand it. Especially even over there it was uh, uh, not that many Jewish people in general. The majority were Chr...Gentiles. Christians, and...

You talk a lot about it now though. You speak at the Holocaust Center.

Right, right, I speak a lot about it now.

Speaking, speaking to me.

But in the last, I would say in the last ten years that I really speak about it.

But do you think that American students--people like me even, that we understand it better now than they might have understood it then?

Then? Uh, probably. Well, you, you can't, I, you cannot, I cannot uh, compare you to the uh, to the kids that asked me in Pennsylvania. First of all, you're very, very knowledgeable about it. You know a lot of things more than I do. About...

Yeah but you're willing to talk even at the risk of having listeners who don't understand.

Yes, yes. I--and, and the main reason is because I feel it's a, a, a duty. I feel it's my duty to do it, today, to--when I talk to schools. I don't mean to you, or eh, uh, but when I go in, into the Holocaust Center, if I go to a school and I have uh, kids coming in listening to me, I feel. Uh, I don't feel good the day before I have to speak, but I feel very good when I finish. I feel that I accomplished something. Uh, if I talk to forty children, I figure maybe ten, I got through to ten. And that's a big accomplishment. Because they're so few of us left. And I'm one of uh, the youngest Holocaust survivors. There's not many much younger than me.

Do you think that, like so many hidden children, you had to come out of hiding within the last ten years?

As far as speaking, definitely.

As far as telling anyone.

Yes. Definitely, within the last, I'd say within the last ten years is when I really opened up. I never even used to tell my, my wi...I'm married forty years and probably the first uh, uh, thirty years or first twenty-five years I never even told my wife much. She knew I was a Holocaust survivor and she has some com... more compassion than most because uh, she left also just before the war, and uh, uh, her parents had to leave and, uh...

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