Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982


The following is an interview with Mr. David Kahan, on the morning of April 29, 1982, at his home in West Bloomfield, Michigan. The interviewer is Sidney Bolkosky.

Where you're from, please.

Yeah. My name is David Kahan and I was born in Transylvania. Uh, that is at the border between Romania and Hungary. When I was born in 1928, it was Romania, but in 1941, it was uh, taken from, half of Transylvania was taken from Romania and given to Hungary when Hungary joined the Germans Axis as an ally. It used to be Hungarian territory a long time ago.

What was the name of the town?

The name of the town in Romanian is Gheorgheni. In Hungarian it's called Gyergyo Sent Miklós.

Can you spell it?

Yes. In Romanian it's spelled G-h-e-o-r-g-h-e-n-i. In Hungarian it's spelled G-y-e-r-g-y-o, S, another word, S-e-n-t, another word, Miklós, M-i-k-l-ó-s.

Okay. Um, would you just tell me what kinds of things you remember about the community that you lived in, like before the war?

We had uh, a Jewish community of approximately 250 Jewish families. Uh, can you shut it off for a minute, please? Uh, we uh, the town was, was situated in a very lovely place. Uh, the, the people were delighted. I think that we had about a dozen manufacturers. We had a large uh, wood and pulp industry in that area. Until the Jews had arrived to that city uh, in uh, about 1900, there was absolutely no industry in that area. The Jews have arrived there and they have realized that the woods there had a lot of timber resources and they organized a timber industry. We had about ten or twelve large factories who gave most of the employment to the non-Jewish population. They were owned by Jews. Uh, the, the commerce was halfway divided between Jews and non-Jews. We had um, uh, upper-wealthy classes, we had a fairly good middle-class and then we had a goodly number of poor, hard-working Jews who worked in some of these same factories and uh, were just trying to get by, make a living. Our life was pretty tolerable until uh, the Hungarians actually uh, took over in 1941. The Romanians, the Romanian government hadn't given us too much trouble uh, as far as I can remember. Um, the population there was mixed. There was a large Hungarian population and uh, maybe because the Romanian government was trying to uh, rule Transylvania fairly uh, they have not bothered the Jews much at all. There was anti-Semitism among the school kids. I used to have payes, we were Orthodox and my payes was pulled every now and then by some nasty kids and they used to gang up on me uh, and once in a while beat me up a little bit. But in general uh, I hadn't suffered too much anti-Semitism in my younger years under the Romanian rule.

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