Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - August 14, 1995

Reflections on Germans

Do you remember what you were thinking all this time? Now you're free, you're sick, um...

After the liberation?

your family, about your going home?

Yeah, oh yeah. I, I, I, I thought at that time that it is a miracle that I'm alive. And, and I thought I was going home and wondering if anyone else in my family had survived. But uh, you know, a lot of the people in Feldafing, in that other displaced person camp, as soon as they recuperated their strength they went back to their hometowns. And, and you, you must know, must have heard that some Polish Jews went back to the City of Kielce in Poland and I think forty-five or fifty of them were killed. But, they wanted their homes back, so, so uh, a lot of them went back and they left again. In, in, in Transylvania, it was Romanian, most of the people who went back left right away and came back to the camps. And I never went back because we were very poor. I had no reason to go back. My, my poor home, I wouldn't want to live in it. And I, I didn't know that any of my brothers uh, anybody survived this horrible slaughter. And, and uh, I just stayed in the displaced person camp in Germany. Uh, I thought it was a miracle that we survived. I was glad to be alive. And, I was looking forward to rehabilitate uh, my life. Uh, I don't exactly know uh, how much time we have, but before the interview is over I would very much like to tell you beside that question that you are asking me, that I have spoken to many schools about the Holocaust, that, that uh, Hitler didn't do this alone, nor the Germans did this alone. The ground of Europe was fertile with anti-Semitism for many, many centuries. It was Martin Luther I think in the fourteenth century or the fifteenth where he started out uh, his anti-Semitic tirades that the Jews should be burned in their homes and Synagogues and, and murdered and put into ghettos. And, and also uh, do you have your doctor uh, will you ask me later about that or is it a good time?

Mm-hm, talk about it now.

It's a good time. That uh, that uh, it wasn't the Germans alone. And, and the tragedy, the rest of the world didn't care at all uh, about the Jews or the fate of the Jews. When they, when they had the conference, let, let me see if I can remember the city. I have to make notes, because I am forgetting. Yeah, I think Evian Conference where this, where they gathered to try to help the--what to do with the Jewish refugees, not a single country in the world offered sanctuary for the Jews and including this great country of our which I so deeply love. I don't think anyone loves the United States more than a Holocaust survivor. It has given us new life and opportunity like we have never known before. But uh, the world just didn't care. And, and the United States had hundreds of thousands of unused quotas in Europe that the Jews were begging for sanctuary and our own country, the government was so anti-Semitic in those days, that they would just not allow the Jews into this country. Or they didn't care. They knew that the--that Jews were being murdered in Auschwitz. In Europe we used to think, when we heard, heard Roosevelt's name, like he was an angel of God, a saint, that he will save us. And, and then when we found out that he did so little too late to help the Jews of Europe. It was really, the Germans actually knew that and they said so openly that the rest of the world doesn't want the Jews. "They want us to, the, the, the Christian world wants us to kill the Jews and they'll thank us for it." Because until they found out that uh, no one wants the Jews, the Germans and Eichmann, they just wanted the Jews wanted to be kicked out of Germany. But they found out that no one will let 'em in. And there, there are many books have been written about the Holocaust, but the last one which I read was by David S. Wyman uh, grandson of a Protestant clergyman I believe and it's quite clearly documented how our own government, how callous and, and, and, and cruel they were not wanting to, to, to help the Jews of Europe. Uh, the, the, the big factories around Auschwitz were bombed. Uh, everyone knows that. But they never bombed the gas chambers and the crematorium. It's almost unbelievable how cruel and uncaring the world was that time uh, against the Jews, including this wonderful United States. I also want to make sure that, that Jews never forget that enemies nor their friends, this, this beautiful exceptions of Christian he...heroism, even so, in my opinion ninety-eight percent of them never lifted a finger or helped the Jews. A majority of them were glad perhaps. Those who were not glad didn't lift their fingers. But we must remember Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved a lot of Jews uh, in Budapest and, and, and I think that the, the Christian churches should make a saint out of him. It's tragic that they haven't. Uh, we must remember Denmark, a decent people. Even so, there was only about seven thousand Jews living Denmark. But when they found out that they were going to round up the Jews, they hid the Jews. The Danish king wore a yellow star. He said that, "They are all citizens." Ninety, ninety-eight percent of Danish Jews were saved and, and uh, there was individual heroic deeds like that by Christians who, who saved Jews. In, in Israel in the road to Yad Vashem there is a street with trees planted with these people's name. But it's so important to realize that, that how little help the Jews got. And the other thing is so terribly important that a lot of people do understand, including the new generation of American Jews, if Israel had existed during the Second World War, I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that a large amount of the Jews could have been saved. Because the Germans wanted them out of Europe and Israel would have accepted them. We had no country. No one wanted the Jews. The British locked the gates of Palestine from the Jews. In my opinion, they were all as bad as the Nazis. A person who doesn't give you sanctuary when he knows that you are going to get killed is as bad as a killer. So it looks like that the conspiracy against the Jews was actually worldwide and it was tragic.

Let me ask you about the, the um, rescuers. Um, you, you mentioned two German, two young Germans who...

Yes, yes, in Mittergars, yes.

In Mittergars. Did, did you ever experience any, any other



No. I have not, besides those two Germans uh, I have not witnessed any personal kindness from any Germans during the camp, no. The...these, I would say that those people from Organization Todt, as you asked me earlier, I was once uh, given a couple lashes of a whip because we were tired and we, we sat down, we didn't continue digging, when we were digging those trenches. He said, "Hey, you guys, what do you think you are doing?" And he beat us a little bit. But those guys were not as cruel um, as the SS were uh, but there I never witnessed any kindness towards me at all in the camp, no.

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