Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Anne Hirschle - July 21, 2006

Encouraging Husband to Share Story

He just-but I realized later that I had been wrong when I kept telling him, "John, you've got to do this interview. You've got to tell these people what, what happened." He said, "I have nothing to say. They wouldn't want to hear what I had to say." And one of things that he wanted to say-and I'll say it for him now-he wanted to say that he had been in Buchenwald with a lot of people who were not Jewish but were-belonged to some religious group, who were ardent believers and they had all been told that all they had to do was renounce their religion and say they were no longer believers and the door would open for them, and they wouldn't do it. And he said he felt that all these uh, accounts of the Holocaust always emphasize the Jews and that he felt that not enough credit was given to the thousands of people who were not Jewish who suffered the same fate, many of whom who could have avoided that by just denouncing their faith. He said there were the gypsies, of course, everybody knows about the gypsies, they were rounded up and-but he was particularly impressed with these very religious people who-and he said, "They don't want to hear this, they don't want to hear this. They only want to hear about the Jews and I want to talk about the people who are not usually mentioned-the non-Jewish people." And, but that wasn't the whole story. He just-I realize now, he couldn't face going back. He felt terribly guilty that he had been the only one of his family to get out and that, in fact, a sister of his-I told you he had this harrowing two weeks where the official had said, "You can get out if you want to...


...but uh, don't blame me if after two weeks you're back in here again." And his sister apparently went to the police and did something with one of the officials. He, he never was quite sure just what went on, but he felt that perhaps she had slept with this man just to get him-that was his favorite older sister and uh, he always felt-I think the thought of all of that was just more than he could-he didn't want to talk about it and, and I realized then-he died in '99, but I think from about '97 onwards when he was quite frail that whenever conversation came up uh, and he said, "I can't do it." I, I-then I realized that it hadn't all been buried or so well controlled as we had always thought it was. It really wasn't well controlled. It was buried somewhere and he just didn't want to let it out. He didn't want to go there.

Sure. It was below the surface.

So uh, I don't want to do this, only I have a couple questions for you.

Sure, let me turn this off for you.

[interruption in interview]

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn