Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

George Korper - March 26, 2007

Relations with Non-Jews

Were you a soccer player?


Were you a soccer player?

I was a soccer player, yes. I played soccer in the summer and uh, we did a lot of swimming and we did canoeing. I belonged to the Water Scouts and...

So you must've had non-Jewish friends?

Oh, yes, I had non-Jewish friends but my best friend, my best friend was actually a Jew, a Jew who, who was in my class at school. And, another good friend was a second Jew who was in my class. As I mentioned, there were three of us in a class of fifty-three. And he--this, this good friend of mine actually before his family returned and he was--you see, this man was--he was short, he was always skinny, he wasn't particularly strong, he wasn't particularly athletic and he came--we got back at the break. So, there it is uh, yeah.

You, you had--it sounds like you have very pleasant memories of your...

Well uh, [laughs] I must laugh. Our friends asked me to, to tell them the best, best times of my life and the worst times and when I came to recount the worst times, I finished up and said, "My god, I am glad you asked me this question because I realized I didn't have such a bad life." [laughs] Or I haven't had such a bad life.

And did, did your family have a uh, maid, a...

Oh yes, we had, we have to keep two maids living, living in. We had a large apartment which was across--in our own building. My father owned a seven-story apartment building. Very nice. When you go to Prague, you are going to see the Moldau flowing through it and most of the action is on the right bank. The river flows, flow from north to south so most of the action is on the right bank. Then, and then there is the left bank which uh, like the left bank of the Seine, is not too badly ??? So, it was the same here. The, the, the houses along, all the way in, were very beautiful housing and a very nice area. We lived there, the second, second street parallel to the, to the uh, the street running along the river.

And you had two maids?

And they, they had two apartments together and then they bought the house together and that is why we lived and they had two servants.

They were non-Jews?


What was it like when things started to get bad?

Well, that is a very good question and uh, I can tell you exactly--there was no anti-Semitism. You haven't asked me about anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia. There was no anti-Semitism to, to see--to, to, to note.

Nothing in school?

Nothing at school. No remarks ever until, when until the Germans and I'll tell you what happened. But, first I want to tell you what the atmosphere was. We were always told by our parents don't be conspicuous, don't rest...loudly--don't be loud when you are in a restaurant, don't shout when you are in the street. We don't have to be noticed and people don't have to remark, even they don't say it aloud. "The loud Jew again. Look at him." This is what we were told from childhood. All right? But, we never heard any, any remarks. They kept it to themselves. There is, there is inborn anti-Semitism and the little that they did with children with the church from childhood maybe or their parents did and passed it on, you know, the Christ-killers, the usual nonsense. Uh, that was kept inside. There were two--it's an intelligent nation. It is a very capable nation, I mean, if you think that a, a country of fourteen-and-a-half--I don't mind--do you mind if I digress every so often?

No, go on, please.

A country of fourteen-and-a-half million people before the war on which the eastern take was, was Ruthenia that was where all the 250,000 Jews lived. It was--I don't know what the percentage--I don't know what, what the total population, population was in Ruthenia, but, but I know from half a million Jews...

It's in the Carpathian.

Half were in the Carpathians, right? And that which belongs was immediately taken over by Russia. It was a deal made with the British and the Americans. Uh, you know, whose ??? and, and, and ??? Russia and they took over the Russians immediately, the eastern did. That's where, that's where the real frum Jews lived, you know uh, and so, and it was mostly agriculture. The well-to-do Jews were--had vineyards and the, the lesser-known Jews--the lesser well-to-do Jews did odd jobs that, everything like, like, like we have in normal society. Uh, but they, they, they were in agriculture quite a bit and, and the whole count...the whole piece of land there was agriculture. Uh, then in Slovakia, it was mixed and uh, in Bohemia and Moravia it was comparable to, to the condition here in the USA.

Bohemia and Moravia became the German Protectorate.

That's it, exactly, exactly. Now, your question was, how did I get to talk about this?

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