Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Gun - August 27, 1993

Going to the United States

So Anszel convinced...

Yeah he convinced Manya that we should, better go to America than to Israel. And uh, they send us papers, and uh, about November '47 we started to process. We, you know, there was a quota, and naturally first it was if you had a brother or sister or daughter or son, and we were nephews so it took a little longer, but still we--I, I thought we got quite well--was in January '48 we arrived to the United States.


Pardon me?

Thats early.

Yes, we were Id say--there were some, I know I have a brother-in-law that came in '47 and, but that was about the earliest.

And you came to Pennsylvania?

We came to New York, naturally. We had second cousins also in New York, that uh, we made contact with. They were cousins from my mothers side. And they were the ones that actually came to the ship to take us off, and took us to their house for dinner. And then came my sister-in-laws cousin from Detroit. And took us, after we spend about two days in uh, in New York he took us on a train to Detroit. And we spent a few days with her relatives in Detroit. And then we went to Pennsylvania. And when we came to Pennsylvania uh, my aunt said to him, she said look, he says you have nothing, youre not established, you have no job. Says, why dont you let Jack live with us 'til you get on your feet, you know 'til you have a job, 'til you have, you know, an apartment, nothing, because the uncle told him that they can stay, they had an extra room, you know, they can stay with them. So where do I come in, maybe another room, right. So my aunt offered it and my uh my brother accepted it. He figured it might be the best thing for me for the time being, you know? And uh, I stayed with them and I--it was a small town, very few Jews. But they had a shul.

This is Breck...


Breckenridge, mm-hm.

Thats uh, you never heard of it Im sure.


Uh, you familiar with Pittsburgh at all?

A little bit.

Uh, New Kensington, have you ever heard of New Kensington? Uh, thats where the Alcoa Aluminum.


And over there is an Allegheny Ludlum steel mill. Thats their big thing there. Its only about 25 miles from Pittsburgh, southwest.


And uh, they put me--started naturally school. English uh, English I didnt know a thing, I mean, I just hardly, in those two years I learned a little bit of uh, Jewish, little bit of Hebrew. Learned naturally a little bit of math, you know. I dont know how much you can learn from uh, exactly two years we were in the DP camp from end of '45 'til the end of '47. So thats where I got my first, first education of uh, and I believe Id learned the alphabet, you know, the Latin alphabet. And when I came to United States they put me in the sixth grade. [pause] And, and besides that my brother had me registered a year younger anyway, because he figured when we came to the DP camp they gave more food to the younger children, so they registered me a year younger. So I was registered 1935. So they thought sixth grade they would start me and in a small school and, I think I did very well and picked up quite--they were amazed the way I learned the language. And uh, in the eighth grade I won the American Legion Award for the best uh, student and they also had a big write up in the paper about me, in the local paper, you know. And I used to work my uh, my uncle and his three sons had a, like a little supermarket with, with also slaughtering cattle. Just mainly for their own use and, and after school I used to go into the store and used to work and uh, and every summer I used to go to Detroit to meet my brother. To, you know, spend a few weeks with Anszel. And in '49 they had their first daughter was born. And uh,...

What was it like being uh, apart again?

I missed him. I missed him, and uh, we used to talk, you know, on the phone at least once a week and uh, used to write letters. Those days you didnt call that much long distance I guess. Used to write letters to each other and he always wanted to know if, you know. After about a year, you know, at least he had already an apartment and he worked for Chrysler and, and he wanted to know if would uh, if I wanted to come back or...

So he would have taken you?

Oh yeah, theres no question about that. And uh,...

Did you talk to people in, in Breckenridge about--did anybody ask you questions about the war?

Yes, yes, people asked me questions and uh, I didnt try--I tried not to elaborate too much. You know, I tried to make it as short and sweet as possible. I guess I didnt want to bring back uh, memories, wanted to hide it or--I dont know about hide it, I mean, to forget about it I guess. You know, started a new life completely and um, if somebody asked I would say, you know, I would give 'em like, short answers. Even my aunt when she asked me, you know, I never elaborated too much and at times I uh,--there was times when I felt like uh, maybe I shouldnt be there, like I should be with my brother. But then I also realized that maybe its hard for him and you know.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn