Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984

Effects of Experience

Let me ask you something about uh, your life after again. Up to now um, are you regularly affected by your experiences during the war?

I am.

How? Tell me. You said when you hear German words that you're right back there. Are there any other times?

Flashes come through, flashes come through, I mean, about my experiences. I still have dreams. And somehow, one way or another, whenever I have a conversation with or I talk to many of the, the people that I know, my friends and the survivors, we always seem to be ending up in talking about a concentration camp. Somehow the conversation comes up.

What are your dreams like?

First of all the dreams is about my brother. I know, I feel in the dream that he is alive and if you're alive, why don't you come home? My brother was a very religious young man. He was a very well learned man. And uh, I am sure had he been alive today, he would have stuck to the religion as, as, as he was, as, as a child. I was uh, after the war, I have changed. I come from a religious family, I went to the yeshivas, I ate traif, I smoked on Shabbos, but I felt uncomfortable with it. I was very uncomfortable with it. I was very uncomfortable with it. Every time I used to go by a synagogue, it used to hurt me, on Shabbos. So, why am I doing that? If it hurts, why am I doing that? I've been fighting with myself, for I don't know how many years. So finally, one day I've decided, I've had enough of it. So I reverted back, I mean, to... I said, this is not my life. I was raised differently. What happened in the concentration camp... I don't know, maybe God does things that we don't understand. I used to question, I mean, going through what I went through and survive it. Little did I know when I was in the concentration camp that thirty years later I am going to go to the schools and tell 'em about, about my experiences, in English, in the United States. Who has ever dreamt of something like that?

Why do you do it?

Why do I do it? I do it because, I don't want... It's enough that I have suffered, it's enough that my generation paid for it. I feel that these future generations are much better people, they are much kinder to one another. Why are you doing it? Why are you going through, I mean, asking all of us, I mean, there's how many, I don't know how many people you have interviewed. But there's a different type of a person right now. It's a kind... People are kinder to one another. I live in a country right now where, where the people are nice. People feel for one another. And I don't want, God forbid, for these people to suffer like that. And maybe that is why I survived, because I am supposed to go out there and tell the people that don't let any bigot do what that guy did in Germany or what the Nazis did in Germany.

I think that's a good place to stop. Thank you. ?? ?? ?? ??

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