Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982

Sharing Story

You've talked about it since.

Yeah, I've talked about it. Yes, I've talked about. I always made a point that my kids...to know about it. I've told my wife occasional and many poi...many times I used to tell her about things. But the fact remains that my kids...that my son Marty and, and Judy both, when they were in Israel, they made it a point to take a course in the Holocaust. In fact, Marty still does. Marty talks about it. Marty does a very good job in Columbus. In fact, I was at a symposium and I appeared with my son Marty together and we talked about how father and son relationship is between uh, the two of us. I mean, in, in how do we get along and what effect did the concentration camp have on me and what effect did it have on him and so on and so forth. I think it was uh, a very good uh, we have a very good understanding about that.

I'd, I'd like to ask you about your children, as long as you brought that up. Does, does it affect your daily life, your experiences? Do you think about it? Are there certain occasions when visions of the past...of Auschwitz or Buchenwald come into your mind?

Yes, it...especially recently since you...I was, you know, I've been talking a great deal about it and I feel that I have uh, an obligation to talk about it so that little disturbing feeling that I have, I think that should not affect my life but I think about it. And I uh, I feel that I must talk about it that I must tell people about it and that's very important, even if it's inconvenient for me. But I've...I'm...right now that I've talked about it a great deal, I feel better. I feel I'm doing something, I'm accomplishing something. I hope I am.

Do you dream about it?

Uh, I haven't had a dream in a long time, since I started to talk about it...since I...since the C.H.A.I.M. group started to interview me about, I feel better. I've, I've...my dreams really were...I used to remember that I was in a camp. I was turned over by the Americans and I said, "Why in God's name was I turned in to the Germans? Why in God's name are we still in wa...in war with them? And how is that possible I feel I'm walking and walking and walking long distances and I'm trying to get out of something and I somehow I can't get out of it?" And then...that's some of my dreams. And then sometimes I feel I'm so cooped up into something, I can't get out of it. I was told, I must confess, by a psychiatrist that these are part of the dreams and my, my nightmares from this uh, concentration camp.

Do you dream about your brother?

My kid brother? No, I haven't. I haven't dreamt but I thought about it a great deal. That is very much alive for me. That's something I'll, I'll never forget. I can't forget it.

When you talk about that...


...what you described in the world of the camp...you said was chaos and, and madness. It was a world of uh, insanity. In a sane world don't you think that what you did...sending your brother to be with his parents...would have been proper thing to do but in an insane world you couldn't have known what to do?

I am no god. I had no right to send my brother...regardless of what people are going to say. The only consolation that I have...and which is very, very little...I didn't know. Had I known I would not have sent him. No way. We would have done everything possible to try to keep that kid alive, whether it's for a month, for a week or two days. You see, people, people are spending lots of money to try to stay alive for, for, for a month, for two months, for three months. No, I, I, I can't. This is something...I don't know. It's a guilt. It's a guilt...something that, that, that I have to live with.


I hope to God that God will forgive me for that. I hope my brother, too, will forgive me that...what I did. And both my parents too, so I can say. My brother in South America is, is, is, is uh, he is very...he lives with it. I...my other kid brother never mentioned it about it. My older brother doesn't even know about it because we don't want to tell him about it so the only one really that we know about it, I mean, is the three of us. And it's an interesting thing, I only talked with it with my brother in South America but I never talked with my kid brother in, in, in Israel.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn