Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984

Life After Liberation/Coming to U.S.

Okay, so go back to Betlan.

So I came back to Betlan, so that particular Wednesday, so then uh, there was a group of people they were, were going someplace. It was a caravan of, of horses and, and wagons, so uh, I asked this man, "Where are you going?" in the Romanian language, so he said to me uh, "Where is uh, where can I find a uh, a Jewish place?" I said to him, "I am Jewish. Why do you want to know?" He says, "I want to eat something," and, you know, as a rule, Jews help out one another. And he started to talk and he said to me just like this, "If you have two cents, two cents worth of sense, you will pack together, you will pack yourself up right away and leave this hellhole." I said, "Why? The Russians, they're supposed to be good people..." and this and that. He said, "Like hell, they're just as bad as the Nazis." You know, it didn't take very long and I picked myself up and left.

And where did you go?

I went to Hungary. And from Hungary, I didn't wait for very long and I came over to the United States. I was in, I was in a, in a, in a Lager in Germany again after the war. I was in Ulm. A waiting, waiting displaced person camp, I mean, waiting for me to be, uh... I came over to the United States. Oh God, when I came over to the United States, I, I remember seeing, we arrived at night and I saw all this flash, you know, those lights, I says, "What is this? What is going on over here?" Someone says to me, "You dummy, those are automobiles." "That many automobiles? Every second an automobile, that's too many, how is that possible?" Well, then in the daytime, so I started to see them, there was a lot of automobiles going by there, so it was great. So then I uh, we were processed and I uh, as we got off the boat, they assigned me a, at a hotel and I stayed in a hotel in New York and uh, then I went out for a walk. I don't remember that the name of the street or anything. And I looked in the windows and I see those big hams, it must have been a, a butcher shop and bread and all kinds of stuff, oh my God! So much food! And, and as I, I looked at the window, I started to proceed a little further down the street and I see a tall policeman coming in front of me. I immediately went into my pocket and I was ready to take out my identification card and to show him that look I'm here legitimately. It was, coming over here was a daze, I mean, you're coming in from, from, from hell and all of a sudden, you're in a paradise... That's the only way I can uh, put the two things together.

How did you get to Detroit?

I have an uncle here who has uh, who paid for my ticket. And they uh, I was waited, they waited for us at the train and I stayed here for a little while. And I have some relatives in Los Angeles, they wanted to see me. And they asked me to come down there and I went down there and uh, the first time when I saw them, the first thing they said to me, "I don't want to hear anything about a concentration camp because I know, I know everything about it." Before I uh, I was stunned. Really, I was disappointed. You don't want to know about your parents? Or you don't want to know about... Why the hell did you bring me here all the way? But then the other brother uh, pumped all the information from me.

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