Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Relations with non-Jews

Eighth. Did you ever encounter anti-Semitism before the war?

Yes. Uh, at times it was quite uh, flagrant. Um, we were Jews. And uh, they wouldn't hesitate to call us dirty Jews. uh, particularly they, the, the um, there, there was a German element there. We--they were called Schwabs. Um, that was um, that was the ethnic um, name, Schwabs...


Yes. And uh, they were, they were very strongly anti-Semitic. And uh, we would uh, generally when we have, we would go into their neighborhoods or go uh, anywhere near them we'd always go in a group uh, so that if they would attack us we were able to take care of ourselves.

Can you describe your experiences during the war?

Well [pause] 19...our war started in actually in 1938 when uh, when the Germans occupied the Sudetenland. The Hungarians being their allies um, took over the uh, the Carpathian uh, part of Czechoslovakia and we became uh, we came under the Hungarian uh, rule. Life was pretty good uh, under the Hungarian at first. Uh, they, they didn't uh, they didn't bother us too much. Um, except in about approximately in 1941 or 1942 um, they started um. What they do? Anybody that was not a citizen, that was not born, that was not a um, uh, I don't know how many generations back, from that particular area they were questioned as to their citizenship. My grandfather--course this, this particular area where, where I come from was part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire and that took in uh, basically most of Poland uh, Hungary, Austria, Romania and all those, all those Central European countries. My grandfather originally wa...came from uh, from uh, Poland, from Lemberg, which was at that time part of the Austria-Hungarian empire and he married my grandmother. And uh, sometimes in the uh, eighteen hundreds I, I don't know, I don't know the, the year. And because of that fact uh, they did not consider us Hungarian citizens or Czechs citi...for that matter. We were, we were considered stateless people, perhaps Polish citizens. And uh, they gath...they, what they did was they, they, they gathered these people, whomever they could uh, find and they shipped them off to Poland. And that, that was during the time when the Germans were taking the Polish Jews and uh, taking them to the concentration camps, putting them into ghettos. We, we went in hiding at that time. And uh, my father having some good connections there eventually was able to secure a citizenship for us and then we came out of hiding and were able to resume our normal lives. But this, this uh, went on for a period of approximately oh, about four months.

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