Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998

The Germans

Did you ever see any Germans?

Uh, not really, except I think the ones that, that came in, then I kind of took a look. But it wasn't--and those guys were not, you know, they, they were uh, I mean, relatively polite. They came in for water and they, I don't think they scared anybody and uh, they went back to their foxholes. They were not rounding up the Jews.

This is Wehrmacht, the Wehrmacht soldiers?

I suppose, yeah, yeah.

Um, you said you heard, you could hear the shooting.

At one point, yeah. What happened was, as the, as the Americans, of course uh, and of course, in were uh, uh, I mean, this would, these were, these were the V-1's and V-2's, the rockets, that were flying in from um, Germany to England. But they were not--they fell short, including in our town. Oh, yeah, we had a V-2 for--explode right, right down the street. And uh, and I was a pretty good sleeper, because my guardian, I remember her saying, "Monsieur, you know, this V-2 is down the street and, and um, and you slept right through it." Um, and then I remember going for a walk with them and we walked by where it had, you know, landed accidentally. It was on its way to London. But then, um--so I was aware of the war, you know and um, those types of things. Uh, and then, at one point, there was this big fire-fight in um, big fight in the forest, because we were right there, so there was all, all this shooting in the forest. And um, there was a road parallel to the forest, which--kind of perpendicular to the railroad track. And um, one time I recall there were these tanks and people were yelling out uh, you know, "The Germans are coming back, the Germans are coming back." And then somebody, I mean, we were outside. I remember going outside to the edge and looking. And then somebody said, "No, it's the Americans, it's the Americans." And, and I--you know--to me--but I could tell that it was, it was good news.

Good news.

And um...

So you really had no sense of what the war was about?

I had no sense, no, no. I didn't have any idea.

Were there discussions in the house?

No, no. No discussions uh, that I was any part of. Um, um, I, I think, I think they were um, I think it was very clear that, that you know, you are not to hide Jews. And um, I think there was a certain element of fear in the family that your next door neighbor, you know, there were, first of all, there was a lot of, a lot of um, collaborators. And you really just didn't know. And so things--the less that I knew about anything, the, the safer it was.

But is it possible that other people in the, in the village knew you were there and knew who you were?

Oh, yeah, I think so. I think that some people might have known. But it's the kind of thing you don't--that those types of people wouldn't have talked about. And uh, I mean, if they were sympathetic. If they were not sympathetic, they would try, like this woman did, to provoke my, my guardian into um, you know, saying, "Shouldn't you, shouldn't you register this kid?" You know, initially, it was just registration and then eventually they took this information from registration and rounded-up people.

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