Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982

Returning Home

You went back to Betlan?


Oh. You and your brothers together?

No...yes. We went back to Betlan. We stayed there for a couple of d...we stayed...no, let me see. I stayed there for...my brother who lives in South America didn't stay there at all. He got very, very sick and uh, when we got to Budapest we sent...put him in a sanatorium, which we called a hospital at that time. And uh, he um, he got pneumonia or something and then he recovered and then he came home and said, "I'm not staying," and he left immediately. My kid brother, he says...he uh, he had to be taken in because he was rather young. Not the kid...the one brother who was before the little kid brother before who we...as I told before about. And uh, he was not even eighteen at the time, he was...he survived it. And he uh, went to a city where they uh, took care of all of these youngsters and I stayed home to try to liquidate a few things, which I was able to. And then one day...it happens to be another Wednesday...a market day because the reason I remember that it was a market day uh, some people were coming, people were going and they were Jews. I said to him, "Where are you going?" He says, "What do you mean where I'm going?" I says to him, "???" and would you believe it? It didn't take me very long, I picked myself up and I left. I said, "I'll never stay there again. I'll never..." Besides there was nothing left there anyhow. The house we used to live in was destroyed and whatever was left, it was the building where we had our business and the ironic thing of this: I sold the business to a German, you know, because he had dollars and, and, and Napoleons and I got enough of it. What did I get? I got about two or three hundred dollars, that's all I remember I got for it. And I sewed it into my...sewed in my pants and I uh, kept the money and by the time I got to Budapest...I stopped there in Budapest...going through the border, we had...there was a Russian Jew that used to wheel and deal and then he put us in uh, in uh, in one of the uh, trucks. Covered us up like we were a piece of material or something like that and he...we passed through the border from Romania to Hungary and then we went to uh, and then from there we got together in Budapest and from there we went to uh, Vienna. In Vienna we got back to uh, Vienna we got...went to Germany and that's when I was registered and I came to the United States.

You became an American citizen?

Oh, yes...well...oh, when I left for the United States it was in '47 and then I was drafted in 1948. I went into the army in 1949. It was the Truman draft. I was the acting chaplain...I hardly spoke English but I was the acting chaplain. And uh, then after that uh, I was discharged. I was supposed to have gone in for 24 months but that's the...then they discharged us because the situation in Berlin has quieted down. Remember the embargo the Russ...

[interruption in interview]

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn