Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998

Mother's Family

How many siblings did she have?

Eleven. Eleven brothers and sisters. Uh, and even that was kind of, I mean, it wasn't real to me. You know, she, I knew the two--Tant--Aunt--Tante Charlotte survived. Her husband was deported. Uh, and she survived with four daughters, Can you believe it? Um...

All of them survived?

The four daughters...


...yes. They were all in hiding. Interestingly enough, you know, this stuff is like, it's just, think how nobody talks to kids. It's, it's so frustrating. And again, well, that's history, you know. You'll learn, you'll learn about this later on or something like that. But I remember after the war we used to go to this town called Coeur de Raisor??? And that's where they were all hidden. You know and it was a, that was a real farming community, where they were, where actually they made wine and stuff like that, you know, some of these,

Where is that?

Who the hell knows? I, to this day...

You don't know where it is?

I don't even know. I, I, I've been meaning to ask my cousin. The last time I was, I was going to say, where is Coeur de Raisor??? You know, it's not that far, I don't think. And do you guys still go back? I mean, I have pictures of reunions with my Uncle Moishe, with my, with my cousins, with his, he had a son that was also deported, his oldest son. Um, but so they were, you know, brother and a sister and, and, and then the American cousin. Interesting thing about my mother in terms of identity and stuff and I thought about it when I was talking about the relatives or lack of um, when, when we would talk about uh, American Jews, you know, I mean, I was always, I would, I came to the United States, that was the other thing. I came to the United States and just about everybody I knew had, had siblings and they had grandparents, you know? And there was like, to me it was a shock. To this day, to this day, when I see big family reunions, with the, you know, like the typical American family with, with extended, it's like a miracle to me. It's like unbelievable. And she had a way of saying, I would say, well, "So-an-so and," you know, when we were talking about family, she says, well, "See, they're Amerikaner Yiden."

American Jews.

They're American Jews, the implication being that they did not experience the Holocaust and so they have brothers and sisters and they have no fears and they don't, they're not uptight and they're Americans and they're modern and they're--and we're screwed up. We're, you know, we've been through, we're not the same, you know, we're different.

Meaning European Jews?

Mean...meaning we, meaning we have nobody left.


And whenever I thought of my family, I've thought of me and her. I mean, when I think, you know and then of course, intellectually I know there was an aunt and some cousins and stuff like that, but my image of family, besides my French family, you know, was, was my mother and I and that's it, because my, you know, it's, it's just uh, I guess an emotional image or something like that. But just the two of--her working to keep me going, save me, to feed me and that's it. Real, you know, simple, no extended, no help from anybody, very isolated.

Do you, do you remember ever asking her about your grandparents?

Yeah, I did. I sai...asked her about which were her parents and I said um, one time she volunteered something and she said that the, my crossed eye had something to do with--it skipped generation and that her grandfather had a crossed eye, oh, no, excuse me, that her father also had a crossed eye and it skipped--that she-- the woman never wore glasses. She--I mean, it was like, such an irony. She...

Well, you didn't say, you know, where, where are they, what happened to them, why don't we, why don't I have grandparents or something like that?

No, I think I did. And it was always the same answer. You know, they were, they were killed by the Germans. Everybody was killed by the Germans. It was, that's what's um, if you were in Poland, you were killed by the Germans. And so she would um, she would become very depressed and she would cry. And then I learned, you know, behavior, behaviorism, I learned not to do it unless I wanted my mother to cry, so I didn't raise the subject anymore. And you know what, all those--we had big parties at my house with all, at my, in France, right after the war. And, and they were wonderful people, hardworking people, you know in different trades, young like my mother, survivors, you know. Um, I mean, I couldn't--I can't tell what, which ones were survivors of the camps or not. I couldn't tell. But the atmosphere was always positive. And I think they were mostly Jews that had been in hiding. Because I don't--well, I mean, I, I can't tell, but it was not, they didn't get into discussing the camps. They, they sang, they played cards, they gambled, they drank, they had a good time.

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