Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Physical affects of the Holocaust

Do you suffer any physical illness as a result of your experiences in the Holocaust?

Well, I have lost all my teeth. Uh, that is definitely connected to that because uh, we all suffered a tremendous vitamin C deficiency. And uh, I was uh, when I came out of the camp uh, my mouth was uh, full of uh, of uh, pyorrhea, which is a result of that. And they, they wanted to uh, extract my teeth uh, when I was twenty-one years old. When I went in I had no problems, of course. As a matter of fact, when, when I was in the Army... After I came back from Korea I worked in a dental lab. First I went to Korea, then I worked in a dental lab. And uh, uh, there was a very good uh, people there. So... very good dentist who uh, examined me and uh, they wanted to pull all my teeth then. And this was all a result of, of this, of this camp. And uh, we, eventually I lost them. But uh, uh, a...and also I do have a slight uh, hearing difficulty that is connected with, with uh, with, um... Of course I mentioned to you earlier uh, when, when we, when we were straightening those steel rods, there was a lot of uh, uh, banging and clanging and a lot of heav...uh, very, very loud noise.

Does the past ever interfere with your life today?

[pause] I really don't know.

Are there particular kinds of situations that occur that makes you remem...remember  images while involved in a daily task or a special event such as a holiday celebration or a sad occasion?

Oh, from time to time I'll, I'll remember my uh, youth and, and the happy family and um, my mother in particular. And uh, I uh, seem to have really blocked out my past, whether it's consciously or subconsciously or for whatever reason. Uh, I know that my brother uh, many times when we get together with people from the old country and uh, sometimes with uh, from our own place that has happened. Uh, not many times, but a few times that it has happened. And they would start mentioning names, even people, friends, schoolmates that I went to school with. I really don't remember 'em. And he, he does remember 'em. And he's younger that I am. Uh, I just seem to have blocked it out of my mind.

Do you have nightmares?


Did you ever have nightmares?

I don't think so. [pause] Not that I uh, nothing of any significance.I have, I, I have dreams.

Can you describe them?

Not really, I know I dream. When I wake up I don't remember 'em.

Are you more at ease with talking with survivors about it, with family, or with strangers?

It doesn't seem to matter to me.

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