Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Talking About Experiences I

[laughs] Um, let me see here. Did you talk about your experiences?

Um, at first. When I uh, when I first came to this country people would ask me about my experiences and I would uh, and I would see all these incredulous looks on the people's faces when I would uh, try to recount some of my experiences. And, and it suddenly occurred to me you know, after awhile uh, my God uh, this--it really sounds so far fetched. It must seem so strange to some people that, that people would actually behave like that. They would, they would perpetrate those kind of things on another person that I, I thought to myself, my God you know, I, I, I can almost find that myself unbelievable. And how can I really expect some of these other people to, to really understand and believe what, what went on. And, and at, at that point, I stopped. [

Wife: When they had the Nuremberg trials on television--we were not married, we were just going around together. And he came over and we were watching it. I don't know if you remember the program, but it was very vivid in descriptions. And I was sitting on the couch and literally sobbing out loud. I mean, I was just shaking. And he was sitting next to me and he was completely unaffected. Absolutely, totally unaffected. And I said to him, "How can you sit there and watch this?" And he says to me, "This is a picture. I saw the real thing. This can't hurt me." Now many of his friends are not the same way. They cannot go and watch things like this. But that's the way he reacted.] [pause] Everybody, everybody reacts to this differently. I know my brother, his reactions, his feelings are entirely different than mine. Uh, he uh, he can't sit and look at things objectively. It, it, it, it's just too vivid. Uh, things are just too vivid in his mind. I, I--perhaps uh, perhaps it's right or I don't know whether it's good or bad, but I, I'm able to just detach myself from it and I really don't let it uh, bother me. And yet certain things do affect me, uh. So. Everybody, I suppose, gets affected by it a little differently.

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