Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982

Talking about Experiences

Let me just ask you a couple, couple other questions about your experiences. Have you--you've discussed and you give talks I know to, to uh, high schools. Um, did you have trouble at all discussing your experiences just after the war or when you first came to the United States?

No I have not. I have been asked that question many times by people that, "You know, I know you were in Auschwitz and I, I, if it's not too painful for you, I'd like to ask you." No, I always want to talk about it, because I knew that those of us who survived have to tell the story and anybody who will listen I was willing to talk to. It was very important for the world to learn this, learn, to learn what had happened, to be sure that it never happens again. And any individual who knows about it hopefully will try to do something about it. It was not, but I was glad to talk about it always, individually and I am very happy to talk about it now whenever I have an opportunity to schools or groups to talk about the Holocaust. It's very important.

Have you told your children, your wife?

Yes, of course, they all know about that. I, I have never uh, I have never, my children have never asked me. I read the book Children of Survivors and it was very interesting that a lot of parents have different traumas towards their children and how they behaved. I would say because my wife uh, uh, is not a Holocaust survivor, that that helped me to keep an emotionally stable uh, relationship in my family. So otherwise I think sometimes if my wife would have been a Holocaust survivor, my uh, my whole life would have been a constant Holocaust reminder and that wouldn't, wouldn't have necessarily been good for my children. My children, they knew I was a survivor and I talked to them whenever the occasion had arisen. I never made a point. I remember when my, my, when my two older sons were young and there was a, a Xerox uh, story on television about the Warsaw Ghetto through newsreels from the Germans. They saw the, the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto and they were rather upset about that. And, and uh, they asked me a few questions. I did tell them about it. I didn't make a point. I, I wanted them, as much as humanly possible, not to have any, any handicaps because of my uh, terrible experiences, to grow up as well adjusted uh, human beings and, and uh, hopefully with Jews uh, good Americans, but not necessarily be involved, you know, have any traumas because of the Holocaust.

Did you watch the Holocaust movie when it was on television?

Yes, I did.

With your, with your children or did they watch it?

Uh, I think that they individually watched parts of it. My little son was very anxious to watch all of it and I tried to uh, after uh, ten o'clock it was time to go to sleep, I didn't, I wasn't, I wasn't sure what effect it will have on him. And evidently he handled it okay. I think my other sons have watched part of it, yes.

He was what, ten at the time?

My little one? Uh, I think he, ten, ten and a half or something like that. He was, as a matter of fact he was saying, "Please, can I stay up to watch the rest of it?" But I, I, I--he handled it pretty good.

Did you talk to him about it while...

Yes, I did. As a matter of fact he insisted also to come along with me to a Holocaust survivor's meeting where we saw the movie uh, Night and Fog, Night and Fog and he watched it all the way through and I was concerned about it and he handled it okay. It seems to be that he is, he seems to be, he seems to be more exposed because I am involved now with the Holocaust so he seems to be a little bit more exposed than my older sons have been and he seems to be handling it uh, quite well.

You have high hopes for all them.

I certainly, for my children, God willing yes. I hope that, as I mentioned before, that they get married, have children and I, I, I worry sometimes about it that, that uh, they might not get married and heaven forbid the Kahan family who has survived uh, centuries of persecution shall not be cut off. Uh, as far as I know this is the last males of my family. My brother had two daughters who are married in Israel and but uh, I'm certainly hoping that they will be married, happy and have children to continue our family.

I hope so too.

And our traditions hopefully. Thank you.

A good place to stop. Thank you very much.

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