Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Emigration to America

She had a good question. What made you decide to come to Detroit when you came to the United States?

Well uh, we uh, as, as I mentioned to you, we had an aunt who lived in Pennsylvania. She brought us out to this country. And we had some relations here in Detroit. And my father, of course uh, was a widower then. And uh, one of our cousins uh, uh, knew of this lady who she thought might be a good uh, wife for my father and he came to Detroit and met this lady, who is our mom, we love very dearly. And uh, he married her. And when he married her, we came to Detroit, my brother and I. And uh, my brother today lives in Grand Rapids and I live here in Southfield.

Do you know how old you were when you came or when the war ended or...

Yes, yes. I was, I was when, I was uh, eighteen years old when I was liberated...

So you were about nineteen when you came.

and nineteen when I came to this country.

Um, when did you get married?


Wife: Which time?] Well, this is my second marriage. And my first marriage, well, I was twenty-nine years old, so that--let's do a little arithmetic.

That's ten years after you came.

Pardon me?

That's ten years after you came.

Yes, okay.

And where did you get married in uh, in Detroit?

I got married in uh, in Detroit, yes.

Did you have any children?

Yes, and, you met one of my daughters. I, I have two children from my first marriage. And my wife was married before. She has two children from her first marriage. And together we have four children.

Do they all live here?

Well they're, they're all grown up uh, uh. Two of them are married. Our oldest lives in California, she is uh, going to law school there. And uh, Stephen, who is uh, second. He uh, he's a graduate of uh, of Michigan State and he is now uh, doing graduate work at Harvard in the business school. And a third one Sherry, who's my oldest, she just uh, became a dietician. She just got her diploma a week ago. And Anita is just starting college, she is nineteen.

That's nice. Did you become a U.S. citizen?

Yes, I became a U.S. citizen after I--when uh, when the Korean conflict broke out I was uh, drafted and went into the U.S. Army and fought in Korea. And uh, I should have become a citizen before I went there, but uh, I did not become a citizen until after I came back.

And they took you in the army?

Oh yes, they'll take you in the army as--I had had my uh, my first papers in at that point.


And uh, my intentions were--I was a legal immigrant...


who was going to become a citizen and I was uh, naturally eligible for the draft. And I was drafted. And, and I fought in the-- in U.S. Infantry in Korea. Don't like to miss out on anything.

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