Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998

Experience of Being a Hidden-Child

...the personal thing. Um, let, let's talk a little bit uh, about the experience of being a hidden child. Very often um, hidden children will say that they lost their childhood, they didn't have a childhood. Uh, in fact, you said that to me once. Um, what do you think now when you think about that now? Do you think that's true that you didn't have a, a childhood?

Well, I don't, I don't think I had a normal social childhood. You know, you, I think, there are some kids who are raised with adults, I guess and they--you know, they um, and they like that, that world of adults. And um, in my case, I don't know, because I was not, I didn't share anything with, with other kids. And I don't think I, [pause] I mean, so I didn't experience these things 'til much later. I can't, I can't tell what it's done to me as, you know, as a father or any of these things. Uh, I don't know what the ramifications are. I've, I've--I tend to be um, I mean, I became, what's interesting is, I became a painter. And, and the um, I mean, it gets a little more complicated. But one of the main characteristics that you have to have as a painter for--to be a painter or a writer is that you got to be, you got to be by yourself a lot. If you're a musician, you can't be by yourself, you got to have an audience. So if you don't know how to be by yourself, if you don't like being by yourself, you're not being to be a painter. And when I was a painter in, in, uh, and I lived in this building and, and I was called a hermit by all, all my friends um, people that I knew in the building and stuff like that, because I painted and I, I enjoyed being by myself. Now, I don't know if there's a relationship between the hidden child by myself and being alone and all that kind of stuff. You know, the, the whole psychological thing, I'm not, I'm not too clear if there's any one-to-one, you know, connections. But I mean, I, I, I don't feel like I had a very, you know, a happy childhood. I think I had a secluded uh, almost like a monastery, you might say. And I'm not sure if that's so terrible, you know, uh.

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