Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Harry Praw - June 30, 1982

Life in New Orleans


This was the second day I was in the United States. And then they gave me an apartment and they paid for the apartment. It was about thirty or forty dollars a month or sixty dollars a month. So I went to work on a Thursday morning after getting off the boat Tuesday. I went to work two days later. They told me to be there seven thirty. It wasn't too far, they explained me how to go from the hotel. It was a factory, employed 400 people, it was Jewish ownership and I was the only Jewish refugee--the only Jew working there.

You were the only Jew in the whole...

The only Jew in the whole factory. So, how do you communicate with people that you don't know nothing about? But I always tried my best whether it was in concentration camp or wherever it was that's how I survived. So I figured I could survive that, I'll survive a factory. Finally about five o'clock the bell rings and one of the worker men tells me, "We go. Punch the card." I punch the card...

What kind of work did you do?

It was uh, a clothing factory.


Clothing factory. It was just plain labor. So we punched the card and I thought we go home. So he tells me--he takes me into a coffee shop. Figured the guy wants to treat me to a coffee shop I can't say no, I was here the second day. And he starts telling me, "Hot dog, hot dog, hot dog." I didn't know what hot dog--he kept saying, "Hot dog." Finally they handed me a hot dog and I--he said, "Eat." Well, then I knew what a hot dog was. I learned one word at least I know what a hot...

One day.

I knew what a hot dog was. So we finished the hot dog and he looks at his watch and its twenty five after five and we go. Where do we go? Back to the factory. I seen six o'clock, seven o'clock, eight o'clock...

And you're still working?

...nine o'clock, nine thirty. The whistle blows and he said, "We quit." That was my third, my third day in the United States and my first day on the job. I got back to the hotel. There was a man living at that--in the hotel. I don't think he couldn't speak German but he told me two words, "Gestapo, Gestapo." And I didn't know what he was talking about but he looked at his watch and started hollering, "Gestapo." Of course, my wife, she didn't know what happened to me. She got lost--either I got lost the second day in a strange city...

She must've been worried about you.

...without the language, without the language. I stayed at a hotel. They called the police, no missing persons. They no...they didn't bring nobody into the hospital, no accidents. They called the manufacturer ??? the hour man could be so stupid and not to tell a wife that the man is working is beyond me. Three days later he comes over to me, he tells me next time I work--" If you work overtime," he says, "tell your wife." I said, "What're you talking about?" "They called the police, didn't you know?" I said, "Why didn't you tell my wife that I was working?" He didn't tell them that I was working overtime. But after three days he told me your wife--my--the police was looking for me. So that guy at the hotel was, "German, Gestapo, Gestapo, Gestapo. Where were you? What happened?"

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