Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Herman Opatowski - November 2, 1981

Effects of Holocaust

And now today do you have any lingering uh, effects of any...anything that you feel came out of the camp?

Well, this is uh, not just to say that one would. I'll give you an example ???. My wife went through the, the camp too. Mainly it was...Not from before the war. We, we got married ???. And uh, she left the home now special because she didn't want to witness. She don't, doesn't want to go there, over this because it makes her a little--same by me. But for me it's a little, is a difference than for her. As a matter of fact, I don't know how, how I have to say this, but I, I should say it. When the, when they made the selections in our town and it was uh, they made it within uh, six days. One day they made the, the selection and one...and the next day was to clean up. Because they left...Every selection left let's say a thousand or 2,000 dead people on the street. So they, they left those whom they let stay in town, we didn't stay in the town we didn't go back to our homes, we didn't have no homes, but they took us to a synagogue. So we had to do the cleanup after the selections. And it was everyday a few thousand uh, killed in selection. So as I mentioned uh, one day the selection, the next day the cleanup. Over the next again, and then a cleanup. So at the, at the last selection day was my father, my mother, with the sisters. And because they took me from the synagogue to clean out... Well, you know, everyone they...We tried because uh, they took us out from the synagogue to do the cleaning, it was just Jewish policemen. That didn't stop 'em. So we had a chance to run, to run this place, the other place uh, you know, to see, take a look. So I told the policeman, "You know, I run over to, to uh," it was not too far from my parents uh, my parents with the other children stayed. And uh, you know, he told 'em I will run over for five minutes. Because I knew the next day my father, my mother and the other uh, children uh, would be the next. So I went over to say goodbye. I ran over and they saw me. They knew that I was left in town. They saw me, so I start uh, I told 'em "Oh, it's not so bad, don't worry, you will be shipped there to, to, to, to east, you will work there and, uh..." So my father started and he said, "What are you talking to me? You don't know what's going on." He tried to tell me things. And, "He knew what's going on, who work and can't make it so they are killing everyone," said, "but uh, you are healthy, you'll not be killed, you'll make it, you'll go there, and uh, sometime we will wait." Anyway. So I told him uh, "Listen, take with you 'til you get to the place, have some bread and water." Especially it was hot, August, it was very, very hot, here in August. So he called me out to the outside. And I went out with him. And he said, "What happened to the other children who are with me I know." ??? He had uh, three other, in another town. So I don't know. "But you, I know I'm seeing you alive. So I hope you'll be alive," he said. "But don't," he said "you'll be alive." So, he said to me in a way, sounding like this, he will not be alive and not the rest of the other children. I said, "What are you talking about uh, you are, you are telling me what happened to them and.... We all will be together in some working place." And I say again, "You take with you bread and things and water, the main thing." He said, "Son, listen, I'm not taking nothing. It's no use for me to take, I know where I'm going. And I know they're finishing up, who is not finished here on the place is finished there. Can't you see two blocks away?" From those things it was a field where we could see. "Do you think I, I'm not seeing what's going on for the last two days, days? I know. That's why I'm talking to you this way." And I said again, "Daddy, don't say..." He said, "Listen please, this is the moment now, we don't have the time to argue. But one day as I said I can see you alive..."

[interruption in interview]

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn