Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bernard & Emery Klein - May 23, 1984

Arrest of Aunt

E: As a matter of fact, we had a very interesting experience, pardon me for interrupting. Where on one of those Thursdays, as Bernie mentions, our aunt was picked up. And, why was she picked up? Because our father's friend, who was in charge of the party, was out of town. And some of the other guys from... B: His rival wanted to show the upper hand.

E: Right. And he picked up, our mother was picked up... B: No, our aunt.

E: Our aunt rather, and was to, would have been deported. Fortunately, he came home the same evening and uh, I knew that he is coming home even though I was very young, but was very, very concerned about our aunt. And, so, I run to the railroad station and uh, to my pleasant surprise, I found that another friend of our father who was also a... B: A former schoolmate.

E: Former schoolmate and held a lesser rank. He advised immediately, the chief, that Irvin's sister-in-law was picked up. And, believe it or not, in order to release her, he released an entire group, which was picked up that particular day. And that's how our aunt was saved and was really, strictly thanks to him. His name was Gorgofski, correct? B: Steffen Gorgofski.

E: Steffen Gorgofski. B: You see, anti-Semitism uh, had a different type of a form from the beginning because through being in a small area and, in fact, as mentioned, both of the people that became the actual local government, were classmates of our, or grow-up with our parents, had a tough time displaying any kind of anti-Semitism even if they may have felt it. So, while some were not smart enough to hide it once they got the license in 1939, most of them uh, were keeping a distance. They would not...

E: ...outwardly B: ...show direct anti-Semitism. Definitely not any kind of viciousness. With a rare exception here and there. So, while they enjoyed the fruits of the Nazi rule uh, they still maintained a certain amount of outwardly friendship because, as I said, they spent years and years together with the Jewish people in the community. So, this is how it worked. Now, we as kids, we had the same experiences while we went to school, public schools. We had friends, Gentile friends, and we got along very well. But, then later on, and I, we've already recalled, this was the particular occasion, Christmas time. They used to put on the uniforms, like the Jewish kids used to don't put it. They did it for Christmas. And they would be running...

E: You mean that special dress? B: Yeah, you know the all kinds of uh, costumes. And whenever they, we would be on the street and noticed a group of them coming, we would immediately run because if they would get a hold of us, they would really beat us up. That's how, that's how...

E: This was a change. B: That was how we started feeling the change from 1939 until later years.

E: Then later we were exposed from the public schools. B: We were expelled, right.

E: Expelled from the public schools, and there was a separate Jewish school organized with one or two classes crammed in, kids of all ages. B: Because a very few Jewish kids that left in town, were left in town, especially after 1941.

E: You have to remember, the bulk of the Jewish people were deported at that time. B: By 1941, there were very few Jewish families left and having just a few kids and very few Jewish teachers, I wound up, I remember, when I was in the fifth grade, that I believe, we had first and the fourth grade also in the same classroom. So, however, the education as fragmented as it may have been, we had, we were, we had the education supplemented by private tutoring.

E: Which was done in a quietly, and in our home.

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