Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Koby - April 20, 1999

Memories of Experience

Your, your memories come back to you?

No, the memory is always around. I hope I'm not driving my wife crazy, because you know, it's like a repetition of life. All these little things that happened you know, all these--that's happening you know, now. It's like it was taken out from the village or maybe it's--is it my imagination?


You know, you, you read stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer and you think to yourself, maybe they're a little bit exaggerated. But you have to have a basis for an idea. You don't invent situation--goofy situations like that. Maybe you--little bit ???. I had a friend, Manasha, an old man--old timer. He came somewheres from Galicia over there. And he was born in 1912, and I was born in 1930, so there's a big gap. And he lived--grew up in a Jewish community which had about 400 families in this little town, this Yiddish town or mostly Yiddish. 400 families you know, that's a, that's a cosmos, isn't it? That's a big Jewish world.

Compared to forty-eight, yeah.

Forty-eight--to eight families with eighty-four--forty-eight people in it.


So we used to sit and talk you know, after Shul. I used to take him to breakfast and we used to sip coffee and we used to talk. Besides, he was a lonesome man, so we hung around.


And when he came into money, he always insisted if we're going to lunch, he'll pay lunch, paid lunch. Uh, and he used to tell me all--I used to question him all about his life in this village, about his shtetl, okay? And all the shenanigans that there were on the--you know, these maladjusted people, the adjusted people, the, the, the affluent, the educated, all, you know. And I said, "Now, listen, Manasha, you write just like," I...I...Isaac Bashevis Singer, all those goofy stories." He says, "Who pays attention to them?" He says, "I don't have to write about," he says, "I should write, but you know it already." It's--he used to tell me all these things that went on. You know, I kind of was jealous that I didn't live in a community like that you know, with the Jewish tailors, Jewish uh, uh, uh, the cab drivers, Jewish uh, whatever makes a community click, all this--all the tradesmen, all the leaders, all the rich ones, the poor one...


...the mixed up ones you know, the semi-converts, semi-converts and all that stuff.

Hm. Your...

It's very, very interesting.

Your village was too small to have such diversity?

Too small, yeah.

Nevertheless, there must be stories from your village too.

Not that I know of. No, we, we had a, a very straight community. Maybe there are--maybe there were oddballs, I don't know.


[interruption in interview]


"The Internationale."


There's only a couple of lines that I really sort of believe in, know what--you know, if you translate it into English, the two lines of "The Internationale," it says, no one can help us, neither God, nor hero or the Czar. Then it--all three of these cannot help. We can only accomplish this by ourselves. And when I think of that--of this, this partisan song, I, I, I get this back--feeling ??? those two lines. And I f...I find myself guilty.


So that's why I don't go to those--I go to these memorial services, I went to the memorial services with uh, B'nai--Moshe the other day and uh, because we had no organization, we had no groups that would fight. We did not do anything--maybe there was the little uprising in Warsaw Ghetto, it's not enough. It was too late, too few and too nothing.

He killed twelve Germans. 56,000 Jews died.

And uh, I didn't know the count, but I just can't accept it. I can't accept it, that's all.

Uh, maybe we'll talk a little bit about this next time.

Thank you.

Um... Date: May 10, 1999

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