Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eric Rosenow - August 5, 1982

Life Before the War

No it's a good outline, it's a good outline from which to start. And, and what you've told me makes me think of just a thousand more questions that I really want to know. Um, I would like to know more about what your family life was like before everything happened, before everything began ha...thank you--before...

In Germany?

Yes, that's real important because we, we have some history books but we don't have--we don't know anything. We don't know what the life--what your life was like.

Yes, well let me tell you something, my life in Germany, especially in Berlin was very, very good. We--of course, we were uh, ??? In Germany, we don't know what means uh, districts like Oak Park, like Southfield, like West Bloomfield, where more or less the Jewish people assemble there in a nest. Like they, they move from, they move from Livern...they move from Linwood to Dexter. Dexter was the neighborhood. Then first it was 12th Street. Then from Dexter they start to move to Oak Park. Then from Oak Park, they move to Southfield and etc. etc. This is not the case in Germany. More or less that the Jewish people lived and grew up among goyims--among non-Jewish people.

What were your attitudes towards one another?

Absolutely magnificent. I didn't feel any anti-Semitic. We could uh, go after our business. Ah, in school, I remember once in awhile, some of the--of my colleagues of the students they say uh, "You Jude"--Jew--but it was very, very minor incidents but in general, I had a good life before Hitler came.

Did you feel--did you, did you identify as a German, as a Jew, both? How did...

I'm glad that you asked this question. The German Jew is known uh, by the Austrian Jews, by the Polish Jews, by the Russian Jews, they think that the German Jews are better Jews than the rest. The Russian Jews, the Polish Jews have no--not too much use for German Jews. They don't care too much for them. Very simple: the German Jew--I'm coming back to your question--felt always in Germany first. I'm a German and then I'm a Jew, but this is nothing new to me since I emigrated to America. If you asked any American Jew before the war, before we had so many synagogues in America, "What are you?" He said "I'm an American." He didn't say I'm a Jew. He had all the rights in America, a Jew. The Jew in Germany had all the rights you could ask for, so he was proud to be German. Same an American Jew; he's proud to be American. Does that answer your question?

Very well.

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