Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Impressions of Germans

So far I haven't heard anything you've missed out on from the time you were born. What were your feelings and the initial impressions of the United States?

I loved it from the very first minute. Uh, they told us uh, what a wonderful--they told us in Europe what a wonderful country it is, that uh, all you gotta do is just walk down the main street and you can pick up money off the ground. And we did! We, we,  we got to New York and my brother found a five dollar bill. So we knew it was true. [laughs]

[laughs]. A good omen. What problems did you encounter?

Um, at first I, of course, I didn't um, uh, have command of the language. It was very interesting when we first came to Detroit uh, we uh, enrolled--we lived around Dexter then--and so we enrolled at uh, at uh, Central High uh, to learn English.

When you say we, is it your brother and you you're talking?

My father, my brother, myself.

Oh okay.

And uh, uh, we would go twice a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours. And when we uh, when they interviewed us, when they uh, to accept us to these classes, they asked us some questions--I'm sure they were pertinent--and, of course, we didn't understand what they were talking to us. We couldn't speak any English. So every now and then we'd say yes and then we'd say no. And every now and then we'd get a funny glance from the interviewer. And, and we would go through a whole semester and in the first hour you would get a class of uh, of uh, arithmetic and the second hour would be English. And we couldn't understand why we had to have arithmetic to learn how to speak English. Well, we found out at the end of the semester, we all got a diploma, we just finished the eighth grade again. [laughs]

[laughs] You learned the language very well.

Yeah, thank you.

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