Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982


This interview is being taped at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Michigan. Today's date is May 11, 1982 and my name is Sidney Bolkosky.

Could you please tell me your name and where you are from?

My name is Abe Pasternak, I am from Betlan, a small community in the state of Transylvania which belonged to Hungary and Romania at one time.

During the war uh, what places were you at?

Well, during the war I spent most of my time, I mean, in Betlan 'til I was uh, 'til I was picked up by the Germans. That was in uh, May the 3rd, 1944. It was a Wednesday morning. Six o'clock in the morning, four Hungarian Gendarmes came in and broke down the door and they uh, gave us...and they, they were very, very rude and they said, "You dirty Jews get up," and we were all very scared. We didn't know what happened. And, "Get ready in fifteen minutes," and uh, "Be ready in fifteen minutes." And we did what we were told. And my little kid brother, who was a little uh, boy, was about 10, 12-years-old...you know how kids are and uh, he didn't do exactly what he was told and then he came in with his rifle butt and he hit him. So my father says to him, "Must you hit that little kid?" and he said, "You better shut up, you old Jew, because I'm gonna hit you too." Like you can imagine what uh, how we all felt, uh...

And from...

And from then, we got ourselves ready. And we were...whatever we were able to take with ourselves we took it and they picked us up. And they took us into the school uh, to the uh, public school. Where everybody...some of them were there already and uh, there was confusion because nobody know what was going to happen.

Where did they finally take you?

Well, we stayed there for a whole day and they interrogated us. They interrogated some of the people. And uh, they, they say that uh, my mother had a very good friend, and it's...as it turns out to be, she was a German woman and she had some money hidden and she uh, was able to sneak away to take the money to this woman. And uh, she uh, gave it to her and says, "Do me a favor." And she said to her that when w...when the kids...some of the kids are going to come home please give it to them. She in turn went to the authorities immediately and she turned ov...she turned my mother over to the authorities. And they warned her that uh, and I understand...I don't know exactly whether they, they, they beat her or they, they hit her or they didn't hit her, I don't remember exactly. But the sad irony of it is all is that here you have a friend in, in a couple of minutes and then all of a sudden you have no...and, and that very same friend that you've gone to school with and you, you, you've lived and you've dealt with, turns you over to the authorities.

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