Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - August 14, 1995

Relations with non-Jews

Uh, when you used to play with um, other children, were the Jews and non-Jews together?

Yeah, that's right. My neighborhood uh, where we lived actually used to be housing for workers in a sawmill and um, there were um, majority of the workers were non-Jewish. But I think, uh, we had maybe five percent of, of poor Jews or working Jews who worked in these sawmills. And, uh, housing was mixed. And I would say that I had just as many non-Jewish friends uh, uh, that I grew up with than Jewish friends.

Did they come to your house?

Uh, we never used to go inside our houses too much. Our houses were small and, and there was nothing. I realize that your question in America it's a normal thing for kids to go to each other's houses. It was always outside. We met outside and we played outside. The houses were small and there was no room for, for to play in and I had no toys whatsoever. So we used to play outside, play with buttons or, or play with--a little soccer and we used to go swimming once in a while. But uh, I don't recall going to, to any of my non-Jewish friends' houses, nor they, nor did they come to my house. I do recall that I went into some of my Jewish friends' houses once in a while, in holidays when uh, we weren't working and we were all home. So we did go visit each other. But I don't recall going to any of my non-Jewish friends' homes.

But there was no animosity.

Not really. Not really. I, I would say that the people were mostly Hungarian and they were being uh, ruled over by the Romanians and they were a rather unhappy minority. So the Romanians itself who were the rulers, in school the teachers, I did find anti-Semitism there. There were a couple anti-Semitic teachers who made derogatory remarks, they called zsidon uh, the Jews, you know, that, that's a derogatory word. The Romanians uh, I didn't really come much in contact with them because uh, the area uh, and, and um, where I lived in Gheorgheni was, was really an old Hungarian bastion. There, there--it was Hungarian for a thousand years. Romania took Transylvania after the First World War, because Hungary lost the war and Romania got in the war to fight against Germany. But most of the Hungarian fellas that I went with were okay. Really the kids who used to beat us up in school were Romanians. They were more anti-Semitic to us than the Hungarians.

Wh...if--when you would get into some sort of fight or when there would be these attacks, you would come home. Did you, did you tell your parents about it? Did they say anything?

Mm, I think at one time or another, but unfortunately our life was like that. You were used to it. I mean, you know, Jews, we were a small minority. We were weak and, and unfortunately we were never really taught how to fight back. I don't recall ever anybody telling me that, "David, if this guy beats..." I, defended myself on my own the best I could, but I never had any direction. You know, we were sort of...survival was our motto. We just tried to survive the best we can and, and, and, uh, uh, I, I, at home, yeah I presume I was never hurt bad enough that I had to go to my mother to say you know I was bleeding or anything like that, but I would say that uh, I used to tell them once in a while if, if it was worse than usual. But uh, it didn't happen an awful lot and uh, I don't believe that...my parents were so busy, my father was gone all day. So was my poor mother, always trying to eke out a living somehow. And they weren't there so much to, to listen 'til the evening and the evening, you know, we, we had our dinner and, and, well, not much was talked about things like that.

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