Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Registered as Jews

Uh, you were registered then as Jews. Is that how they knew who you were?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So my father uh, went near Budapest and he was writing to us and everything. But we never went to visit him because it was so far away. I don't know if he could or not, but uh, we didn't. Matter of fact, he come home and uh, it was very hard on us because uh, we didn't--couldn't hire people to work. They took away all the men for military. And the horses they took away from the Gentiles too, not just from the Jews. First from the Jews and then they took away from them too. So some of them had oxen, you know. And we was plowing with the oxen, doing that, you know. It was very hard because uh, to work on the field like this. So I used to--hundred kilo of potatoes to lift up and carry, you know uh, home. Put on a, two, like a wheelbarrow you know, pushing it uh, all the way home from the fields. And I worked very hard and once the Hungarians came and uh, the gendarmes--they came we should give 'em to eat, you know. So he says uh, "I never saw a Jewish girl working like you do." So uh, I say, "What choice do I have if you took away my father." "I say, I have no choice. I have to work." Who should work? It has to be uh, done, the fields has to be done. So we neglected a lot of the fields already, and uh, gentile people came to work for us for the food only.

So when your father was away, your brother had come back...


So you had two brothers and your sister and your mother were home.


Your grandfather had died already?

Yeah, yeah.

Do you remember when he died?

When I was just twelve year old.

So before the Hungarians came.

He was--yeah, he was eighty-five you know, my fa...uh, grandfather. But I felt he's present. Even now. If I, something wrong with me or So--and I, I pray to my grandfather. Yeah, I tell you. He hold me all the time and he told me what to do. He told me to go to America and he was always present with me wherever I went. And somehow I had just a closeness. So my grandchildren has a closeness with me, both boys you know, here. His parents had divorced and uh, the father wanted to make the younger boy a bar mitzvah and he didn't want that we should come, you know. He's angry with me because I told him off. He was nothing when he married her. And uh, the way he behaved. His father was a doctor, but he walked in, in the house. We're European people and he walked in, in the house and didn't say boo. Like a animal. He just walked in. Always angry. So I used to tell him, "My father told the whole town in Nowosielica to come in. If they come in and didn't gree...uh, greet us." He say, "He didn't talk to them." To tell us not to talk. He send them out. If they started to talk that they want something, he says, "You go out and knock on my door and I tell you to come in, and you say ???, greet us. Good morning or good afternoon or whatever, then I talk to you." So I told him, my son-in-law, "You come here to the house and you greet us and talk to us. Don't walk in like a animal. I don't want an anima...animal in the house." So he hated me because I told him that. And they was for sixteen years married. I hated him from the day he walked in, in my house. And I told my daughter--and my daughter said, "Mother, he's very good to me, he makes me happy, he makes that." And then when I met his father--it was a, a pediatrician and he was a nice man. But his mother was crazy and she still is. So uh, he uh, he disrespectful. My daughter's very respectful. Anybody who knows Beverly, she's got, everybody will tell me they met Beverly. All my friends asking me about Beverly, how Beverly is. She's very respectful. She never called nobody by the first name. But here the children are calling everybody by the first name. Mrs. Braum neighbor and Mrs. Deutch neighbor. And she never called nobody by the first name. 'Til today, she never does. She says, "Mom how come allowed these children calling you by the first name?" I say, "Because they are not taught like you are that you should be polite. She's not your girlfriend."

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