Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998

Post-War Life in Paris

This is still in France?

This is still in France. This is between 1945 and 1950. And then the and then the survivors, of course, when I got to Brooklyn, the whole of Brooklyn was survivors, you know. I mean, it was, well, of course we had Hispanics and Puerto Ric...Puerto Ricans and Blacks and stuff like that. But the Jewish community, like if you went down to Brighton Beach and you walked on the boardwalk and you, you met, you met these huge crowd of Jews. And they all had numbers, you know, all of them.

And there were no parties there?

Yeah, there were parties there, but it wasn't quite the same, because everybody was getting old, I think. Yeah. There were, there were parties. It was different. They had good--she had good friends there. She was a very, my mother was a, was a real social, attractive woman and she just wasn't--she just didn't--and you know, she always, I think, felt guilty that she didn't raise me. She felt guilty. She didn't raise her own kid, you know. And I, so I always had sympathy for her, realizing that. But then when she tried to tell me how to raise my kids one time, I told her, I said, "Look Ma, you didn't raise me, so how do you know what..."

Do you think she was a role model for you?

She was, she was a role model in terms of uh, my perception of women, I think, because um, I, I mean, I had a, I had a lot of respect for her, because she had no help from anyone and she was not an educated person. She was not a sensitive person in terms of culture or any of that stuff. She was just a tough chick and very hard in some ways; believed in work. At the same time, though, she had a, a way of, because she was attractive and she had this thing about um, oh, I don't know, just, just when she was with a man, she was with--in the relationship, she was very devoted, let's put it this way. She was, um, and uh, it, it was nice to see her in these relationships, except the first one, her, except her um, my uh, the, the first, the second husband, I should say. She was not happy with him, because he was very, he was a tightwad, he didn't like to have fun, he didn't like to, so, so um, But she had this, this thing about the, the Jewish, the Jewish household, you know, the, the Jewish wife taking care of the husband and making sure he's eating well and he's being f...he's got nice clothes and he becomes a mensch, you know, fr...

But she continued to work, though?

She continued to work. She retired when they forced her to retire. And, and I remember seeing pictures of, of her at these parties at the shop, because she always talked about the shop. And there'd be these pictures of my mother. Here's this--my mother, my mother from Poland and there'd, there'd be, you know, Italian ladies and Black ladies and Puerto Rican ladies and you know, Filipino ladies. It was, it was very and she could get along. She was a--in that respect, you know, she wasn't reli...but what she taught me was that you um, uh, you accept people and, and you learn how to, you learn, you learn how to get along in your environment, you know.

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