Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - June 22, 1983

Life Before the War

Tell me something about your family. How many members were in the family?

Were four of us. I had a sister, my mother and my father, of course.

And uh, what did your father do? What was his occupation?

Uh, my father, when we lived in Kisv&accute;rda, was a salesman.

Were you an observant family?

Uh, yes.

Can you recall what uh, Friday night was like for you in your home?

It was the traditional Friday night. We served the Shabbat and, of course, the Friday evening was the traditional ???. Everything stopped Friday afternoon until Saturday evening--came to a standstill.

Where there other members of your family living in Kisv&accute;rda? Grandparents? Aunts and uncles?

Yes um, my grandparents from my fathers' side, they lived in Kisv&accute;rda.

Any other relatives?

I think some cousins and we did have some relatives.

Now did you attend public school?

Um, public and Jewish school. Uh, public school, to correct it somewhat, public school was a parochial school. Um, we called the Jewish school, even though we referred to it as the pub...public school um, because each religion, in that city, had its own school: Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Protestants and the Jews.

You attended school then with Jewish children...


...did you have any Gentile friends?

Uh, yes, I did have Gentile friends.

Did you experience any anti-Semitism as we--you were growing up in Kisv&accute;rda?

In the later years I would say yes. Uh, as we went into the mid-30s, yes.

Do you recall any specific instances?

It was so many years ago that any specific incident quite likely it--I would be able to refer to it as just street fights.

Uh, you say you lived there until you were twelve approximately?

Um, approximately--I believe it's either ten or twelve--somewhere in that area. Then we moved to a town approximately fifteen miles away, but it was called Baktalórántháza.

And in this town, did you also live in a large community or was this a smaller...

No, this was a smaller community; approximately fifty to sixty Jewish families.

And what was the reason for your move?


Did your grandparents go along with you?

No, no. They stayed in Kisv&accute;rda; however, my mother's parents live in Baktalórántháza.

Did you continue your education in the new town that you moved to?


What were your plans for the future at that point?

That point, I finished public school, that was already in my new town--my new home. After that I went to high school, but it was uh, ten--about twenty miles away from my town because my town did not have high school. And over there we also attended a Jewish school, even though it was public. Referring to it that each religion had their own schooling system. And each day we have traveled that twenty miles by train to finish the high school. And I think it was in 19...uh, '39 or 1940--no I'm sorry it was in 1940 when I finished the last day of my high school at that particular town, what it was called: Mátészalka.

That was the name of the, of the uh, school?

Of the town.

Of the town. Did you have bar mitzvah?


What do you remember about that?

Was a really small one. We were called to the Torah and uh, thereafter there was a kiddush given, and that was it.

When you were living in this smaller town um, can you tell me something about what the community was like there? What did you do for recreation?

For recreation was we have had our own friends and it consisted of playing soccer or going walking or just get together and uh, playing. There wasn't anything extravagant.

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