Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Koby - April 20, 1999


And she started to ask a, a series of questions of the um, people who were there, people who were there.

Yeah, who survived, yeah.

And uh, the reaction was quite hostile, if you remember. What, what, what did you think of that, the whole um, that whole morning?

I don't blame her for being curious or wanting to find out, okay? Perfectly okay. But that came at me like a sledgehammer. It was like...

What came at you?

Her questions.

Oh, yeah. One after another, you mean?

Yeah--no, no. How can you come up and say, "Tell me how you felt?"

Oh, yeah. Right.

This has to--you know, what we did, that's how we felt. I'm--we--you found out it--I mean, I told you how I felt.


??? fact. It's not just facts today.


It's how you felt.

It took a long time to get here.



So here comes this stranger and ??? pop and say, can--you know, tell me how you felt about it.


Some people had terrible reactions, worse than mine, I'm sure.

Psychologists--they were psychologists and social workers.

And they were stunned, because no one ever asked them, "How did you feel?" All--the people only want to know what happened. It's not what happened that you were hidden--you know, I was thinking uh, sitting here, why didn't we take a book with us? Why didn't we take--we had prayer books and uh, uh, Bibles, right? Why didn't we take it with us? We did not--what is the excuse? What is--we could have--I could have been a Bible scholar, spending the--the two years doing nothing.

Hm. So why didn't you?

I don't know.

I mean, some people did.


I mean, the Orthodox Jews grabbed uh, Chumash...

The Torah, right, the Chumash.


We didn't. We had them in the house. And you know something, when we came back, we didn't even look for them.

You know, in that, that circumstance, when you're, when you're told to leave, when you have to run in--to hide in the--in a barn or in a haystack...

You don't think about books.

...uh, you don't think about books. It may be better to take an extra coat, you know...


...or something. I--don't you think? I mean, you were--you...

Yes, definitely.

Yeah. It's like going to war. And, um...

You know, when I go on trips or something, I--is there a shortage of food in the United States? No shortage of food, right? Wherever you go you can--I, I'm aware of it. There's food galore! You go to an airport and there's loads of food. They--even on the airplane they give you food, right? Wherever you go, there always is food in front of you. You know, I sometimes very tempted to take sandwiches with me.


You never know.

You never know.

I mean I, I know it's ridiculous. But it's--all after--all these years, I was thinking, maybe a bottle of water and a couple sandwiches, ah...

Is that a, is that a uh, is that a reaction born from the experience of hiding...

I think so.

...or is it a Jewish thing?

I don't know, I think it's an experience from hiding.

I think--uh-huh.

Because if you don't think a little bit--two--a step or two ahead, you end up in a bad place.

I mean...

You're afraid to end up in a bad place.

You know, well, aren't, aren't there Jews who um, who had--who, who are not survivors, who are--were...

They're just...

...were American born...


Who, who say to--don't forget to take this, take this, take this, take an extra sandwich, take an extra candy bar. Uh...

I don't know. Ah!

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