Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998

Reflections on Two Families

Now, let, let me just recap this so that, you're two and a half years old and um, and in fact your mother gives you over to new parents, a new mother. They take care of you for the duration of the war, five years, until you're seven, is that right? And then what happens?

Well then um, then the sad part starts, because um, I didn't want to, I didn't want to leave them. And I didn't um, I wasn't comfortable with my own mother, because she, she was um, she was so different. And um, I mean she wasn't, she wasn't French. She, she, she had a thick accent. And then I learned about being a sal juif, a dirty Jew, when I started going to school. Um, then she was a Jew and whenever we went, she had such an accent that it was obvious she was, that she was Jewish. Um, and I, I wanted to go back to my Mama Nana, Papa Paul. So--and but I knew I couldn't. I knew that, that she was my mother and, and I remember saying to her, you know, when we had fights in Paris, we had fights a lot, because I think I was a screwed up kid and um, I would say, you know, "If my, if, if Papa, if Papa Jack, "see, I had all kind, I had, I had two fathers and so Papa Jack was, was Jacob, my real father who, who died and I had Papa Paul. So I would say to her, "If Papa Jack was here, this wouldn't occur, he would protect me from you." and all that kind of thing. But uh, I was not happy. Those five years were not happy years. And my cousins, who were a few years older than me um, I have three or four girl cousins, one of them is in Israel right now and the other two are in Paris and one of them passed away young. But they told me, I would spend a lot of time with them. I would go and visit with them and with my aunt. And they said I was, I was just, I, I--you know, that I was a very difficult kid. And the only thing that cooled me out was if they put a piece of paper in front me.

To draw.

To draw.

But in five years you had lost--and in fact, you had lost two families, plus a father.

That was a, that was, yeah uh, I used to, I used to use the expression that when my parents, when my father gave me away. And I've had shrinks say, that's an interesting expression, they gave you away. Um, but um, you know, abandonment, yeah, yeah. And I, I, the--yeah, I lost all of that during those early years. Although I felt, with my, with my guardians, I really felt um, love and security, I would say. But it's hard to tell, you know. I was so isolated that I didn't experience too much of a social nature.

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