Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bernard & Emery Klein - May 23, 1984

Effects on Family

Do you at all recall what sort of effect such stress had on your mother and your sister?

E: Our sister was very, very young. As a matter of fact, unfortunately she never lived to be longer than... B: Eleven years old.

E: ...than 11 years old, because, uh... B: For that matter, we weren't much older, really. Being three years older, you four, four and a half years older, doesn't make us old people at that stage of our life.

E: Right, but again we are probably a little bit more aware. But, it was a stress. It was a stress on a child just as much as it was on older people. B: We were in constant fear. And at that age of 10, 11, and 12, we were engaged in politics, rather than in playing games. Because uh, as we earlier indicated, our house happened to be one of the gathering place for the family as well as the close friends...

E: As well as relatives. B: And the subject was always the war.

E: And the daily occurrences, unfortunately, which were happening right in our... B: Who was taken and who stayed and what's next and another rule, and another rule, and so.

E: And rumors and... B: There was no other subject. There was just a constant fear that what's gonna happen.

E: And then stories started to come that the people taken away are being really killed or disposed of, but never confirmed and so on. But there were constant, constant rumors and like Bernie says, fear. There was no normalcy to our lives, really. B: The only ray of hope we had is when we listened to the BBC. Obviously, a very top secret and heard some, later on, developments on the front that were turned against, that they were turning against Germany.

E: Again, as Bernie said, as young as we were, there was no such thing as there was not to go into the house at 2 o'clock in the afternoon when there was BBC broadcasting, I recall the 2 o'clock time and there were several times a day. But especially 2 o'clock. We made it for sure that we were home and put our ears to the radios. B: Wouldn't turn the volume up, not to...

E: It was not allowed to listen to out of the country broadcasting. But this was, we were looking for a ray of hope in these broadcasts and the only thing what really kept us going is the hope that the Germans will lose the war and we will eventually be free again.

Now at what point were you and your family finally moved from Humenné?

B: Well, in 1944, as I indicated, in May uh, the decree came that Eastern Slovakia, the front was getting fairly closer so the Germans decided that Eastern Slovakia has to become...

E: Judenfrei. B: What is called Judenfrei, clean of Jews. Free of Jews, but clean of Jews. And uh, everybody was to be taken away. Through the fact that our father belonged to the Farms Associations, he was considered one of the important advisors.

E: And, again, having contact, it was a matter at that time, to, to, to find somebody who was important enough, who was willing to put in a good word for him. B: In those days, bribery worked wonders wherever there was any kind of the slightest possibility, a little bribery would make it possible. So, we were transferred, as I said, to Male Dvorany, which is a small farm area near Piestany. Piestany was a famous, uh...

E: Resort town. B: Resort town. And it's a, people went there with, uh...

E: Rheumatism. B: Primarily.

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