Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982

Outbreak of War

Well, when the war started, do you remember um, how you first heard about it? Did you hear about the invasion of Poland? Did you hear about the invasion of Poland did you hear about Czechoslovakia?

Yeah, it's an excellent question. I try to think back often and I can hardly believe the kind of a life we led in our town in Europe and how backward our communication system was. Of course we heard about the war that broke out and we heard bad things about the Germans and we were scared of them. But we had no radio. As far as--none of the people in my neighborhood had radios in their poorer, poorer classes. I think the rich ones had radios and maybe they knew more than we did. I used to listen to London and a friend of ours who was a timber merchant and whenever I was at their house I always made a point to turn on the radio. I was fascinated by it. But we weren't informed very well uh, of what was going on. Uh, we heard stories of atrocities, that bad things were happening to the Jews under the Germans, but we never heard of Auschwitz. We were lucky in, in Transylvania to survive 'til after Pesach of 1944. We were picked up in April of 1944, where most of the Jews of Europe occupied countries were killed. Until then we never heard of Auschwitz. We never heard about it, we had no idea anything about any gas chambers, but we did know about the war. We did know that Germany was occupying Europe and Russia and we did hear that the, that the Allies have joined the war against Germany, but uh, no details whatsoever.

When did the, when did the Hungarians um, move into Transylvania?

The Hungarians moved into Transylvania to the best of my recollection in 1941.

Until that point you were unaffected by...

Until that point we were unaffected uh, by any, by any problems against the Jews, by any mistreatment. Uh, I would say that completely unaffected, except from things that we have heard of that the Germans entered Poland in 1939, that bad things were happening to the Jews, but it was all a generalization without knowing any details what was happening.

What then began to happen in 1941?

Well, when the Hungarians came in, they immediately, we realized that, that they were going to be bad to the Jews.

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