Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982


Before the, the Hungarian came, you were Roman...part of Romania?


Was there a lot of anti-Semitism in, in Betlan then?

There was anti-Semitism, I mean, I remember anti-Semitism since I was a youngster. First of all, I was subjected to pulling my payes so many times in some cases I, I, I fought back. You know, kids...sometimes you fight back, you pick up a stone or dust or anything that you can do because...you fought back but ultimately you were beaten because they were many more and somehow we always felt that there's a...he's a Gentile and he is stronger and you'll never win. And I remember one time my brother, Alav Hashalom, the one who got killed during...when he was in the labor force uh, he was coming home from someplace. My brother who lives now in South America and I went to the...pick him up at the train and three ??? got a hold of us. We were beaten up so badly and we walked home and we cried. And lucky that they ran away, I mean, after...my brother who came home was not, was uh, not beaten. They were not there, they ran away. And we cried and he said, "???" my father said to me. I know it hurt him so badly that he him must...inside he must've cried so badly that uh, and he was studying the ???. He was studying, you know, the portion of the week, he was studying in, in the Bible. And I knew it hurt him. He says, "I'll talk to him tomorrow," because he knew...we knew the kids that did it to us. Just to show you how we were subjected to all kinds of, of uh, punishment, to all kinds of...to whim...to whims of individuals. There was nothing to somebody to, to, to try out that he was a drunk or whatever..."You dirty, rotten Jew!" or something like that. There was nothing for them to do that. How we were able to take all of this, I'll never forget it...I'll never know. I really...I will never know. How, how...my father had a long beard...how many times he was pulled by the beard.

This was all before the war.

This was all before the war and then it really started to get bad. And then some of the Gypsies used to make up...we had gypsies in our hometown and they used to, they used to make up all kinds of rumors. In fact, I remember sometimes a gypsy woman said that uh, some of us kids...you know how youngsters are, they'll go to the train, like, to watch trains go by...everybody does. And she went to, to report to the Gendarme that these kids showed to the Germans like this...that your hands are going to be chopped off, that your legs are going to be chopped off or something like that. Can you imagine that, that...making up certain things. Then you were picked up and were given a few lashes and they knew exactly that was not true. They knew we were too scared to do something like that or to say something like that but they have to show somebody that...or uh, I remember my brother who was in the labor force. He came home once and they were only allowed to wear...yeah, first of all they gave him the full uniform and he was supposed to salute...and he had a yellow armband...he had to wear the yellow armband and he was supposed to salute anybody. And there was that old gypsy who was a nobody...who was a beggar practically...all of a sudden he volunteered to be in charge of the Jews. And he was...and my brother somehow forgot...because my older brother was a little bit forgetful...forgot to salute him and he really bawled him out right there on the streets. And later on they took away the uniform and then they put them away and then you had to buy your own clothes.

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