Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998

Mother's Experience

Why don't we stop for, for a minute and then we'll come, come back and we'll and we'll talk about this. Let's talk a little bit about your mother again. Um, do you know what happened to her while she was in hiding during the war?

You know, it's, it's embarrassing, but I, I really don't and, and for a variety of reasons. One with, having to do with the fact that you, when this thing was over, you didn't talk about it. And you, you kept, you kept going. You looked towards the future, so you didn't delve into those issues. Um, I just assumed she was hidden with these people for two, two years, in some small room, in that building, in that particular building. Uh, when I came, came back to her, I, I remember something very clearly, was um, going through the closet, which was her closet, I guess uh, and seeing a jacket with a, with a yellow star, with Juif written on it.


Yeah. And uh, and it, it struck me, but it had no meaning. I mean, it, it I couldn't relate it to--I mean, it meant that she was a Jew and it was kind of strange. But I never asked her about it. I mean, I, I was probably what, you know, seven and a half, eight years old. I mean, I didn't um, so I never did ask her what, what, what that was or why she had it there. But I'll, I'll never forget that, that it was such a strange thing to have in your closet. Um, so she did, so that's why we, we didn't discuss it. Later on, when I became aware that, you know, time was going on and I wanted her to talk about these things and when--especially with, when the kids, especially when the kids came along, my, my three children and we would go back to visit my mother. Um, and I knew we had a Holocaust remembrance book. And I always tried, for the sake of my kids, I wanted them to hear it from her. Um, and I wanted her to talk about our, where we came from and our community and what Jewish life was like and, and her, her family. She had eleven brothers and sisters.

In Lubartow .

In Lubartow. And only and, and you can, you can imagine how many cousins and nephews and nieces and you know, huge. And um, the only ones that, I think there was like two or three sisters that survived and one brother. One sister was in the United States and then my Aunt uh, my Aunt Charlotte Sheindele and then my Uncle Moishe, which was her brother. And all of the others perished. So that uh, when I would try to find out from my mother during those visits what was it like, what were you doing during the war, how did--she would, she would break down crying hysterically. And so--and we couldn't even finish looking at the um, the remembrance book, the Yizkor book, because she would just get so emotional, because she would see these people and including the pictures of my father and pictures of all of her brothers were there, uh, not all of them, but a, a few. And that was enough to, to make her real nervous. And then everybody would say, stop, you know.

When, when did you become aware that this is, I mean, at age seven, did you know that, that you were a Jewish kid?

Um, when I came back to Paris, the, the world told me I was a Jew.

Who told you?

The French kids. They called me a dirty Jew, sal Juif, for whatever reason, you know. It was, I mean, you just, they just crushed...

When that happened, what did you do?

Well, I think I had a couple fights. And, and, and um, you know and I remember coming home crying. And then I discovered that there were other kids that were Jewish as well, so I...

Now, did your mother say anything when you came home uh, crying?

Uh, not really, no, no, well, yes, things like, you know, "They've always hated us and why do they hate us?" And "Farvos di Yiden, farvos di Yiden? Alehmol di Yiden!"

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