Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984


Were there rationings and curfews, as well?

Later on, in 19 uh, 43, they started to ration. In fact, Jewish people, you know, they, they, we were not allowed to slaughter uh, uh, cows and cattle... That law was prohibited, we were not allowed to do that. The only thing that we were allowed to eat was chicken if we were able to get it. 'Cause you see, the Germans took away a lot of stuff over there, then they started to ration, they started to ration the wheat, bread, flour. I remember my father once gave me a couple of big uh, satchels, he says... I understand, he found out, that there is a um, uh, there's some flour available in the other community not far from uh, Betlan. There was a Jewish miller, miller, and um, he says, he, he may be able to get something over there. I couldn't get it. We were able to buy some of it on the black market, I mean, in the beginning but not... But all of these things, I mean, they, they were uh, you know, we started to get used to them. They were not really, you know, it's, it's, it's a day-to-day uh, restriction and we were always hoping that it's not going to last for very long.

Did your father keep his beard?

Oh, yes, my father kept his beard and I kept my payes with the exception, I mean, that I, I used to, I, I tie them up now, so that you were not able to see them. And I remember in 19, late 1943, when things are really started to really get bad, started to... They insisted upon that all of the Jews have to register. Every Jew has to take a picture... And one Friday afternoon, that too again, one soldier wanted to show off to his girlfriend. And the girl happens to be the daughter of the people that used to buy our milk and they used to come into our store to buy on credit and we always trusted them, and I had to pick up the picture because from the Kommandantur it's called, from the headquarters, and I walk in there and I uh, so humbly, quietly, you know, and asked them, "I came to pick up my father's picture." And he says to me, "Let me look at you." And he looked at me and he saw that I have payes. So he took... I remember he cut off this one over here, the left pe'ot. Cut it up and he showed it off to his girlfriend, to the very same girl, she didn't say a, she didn't say a word, and her brother, by the way, used to be, used to uh, hang around with, with most of the Jewish boys. He never hang around, I mean, with, with, uh... He was a mechanic and he was uh, more or less, more intelligent than the others, he used to hang around with some of his... Uh, his peers used to be his Jewish friends. And uh, the uh, I come home and I tell my father. It was Friday night and we were ready to go to shul, I says, "He, he cut my pe'ot." My father was angry again, he was so mad, angry, he says he couldn't do anything... So he said, "Okay, if I cut off the other pe'ot, then he won. He deliberately cut down just one pe'ot but if you leave it on... First of all, nobody is going to know whether you have a pe'ot or not, because anyhow it's cut over there, but the mere fact is this, that you don't want, you cannot give him the satisfaction that you will do this, that you will cut down the other pe'ot." So, I left it on. It didn't last for very long, because for, let's see, about uh, a month or two months later, I mean, we were already picked up, I mean, by the, by the Nazis, I mean we were picked up by the Hungarians and that's a, that's a story by itself, too.

Was there a ghetto in the town?

No, I wouldn't say, because the, the Jewish people were living all over the community. I mean, I wouldn't say specifically, this is the community, this is the section, I mean, by the Jewish people to live... No, we were scattered. We lived in all kinds of streets.

Did, did the German... Or the Hungarians create a ghetto?

No, not then. When they came in, they did not create a ghetto because first of all, the community was not that large that they could create a ghet... a ghetto. And uh, we just lived and we tried to be... tried to stay away from the streets. We stayed home most of the time or not, or else we used to go to the synagogue and we used to study over there, whatever.

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