Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Peppy Rosenthal - July 1, 2009


Feel like you lost your childhood?

Yes. When my kids were little, and like, I didn't know any fairy tales to tell them. No one ever told me any.

Just what to do and not to do.

Yes, and I mean, and just like, about whatever fairy tales, I mean, "Alice in Wonderland" or whatever, I didn't know any of those.

You talked about it once, in 1980, but when you first came to this country, did you tell anyone anything?

No. No. Um, people, of course, my English wasn't, I couldn't speak English. Um, people would say, "Where are you from?" And I would say Scranton, or, you know, Flint. "No, where were you born?" And that would, I would always have to stop and think, you know, like should I tell the truth or just say that's where I was born? I mean, I could tell I had an accent, especially "W"s.

So why didn't you want to tell them?

I didn't want people to ask me questions.

Why not?

Because it was too painful.

Ah. And your children, did, did you tell them?

No. Cheri, no, no one. But Cheri was the one that insisted. I mean, she's the one be, I'm here today, she just, I didn't want to come today, and she just about had a...I mean, she was crying and screaming that I was being selfish and...

I'm sorry.

That's all right. I mean, I'm glad I did it, but...

How many children do you...


Cheri and...

I have two boys. One is um, lives in New York, he's a religious Jew, very religious. And I mean, their idea about the Holocaust is enough to...upset you.

Yeah, it does.

It upsets me something terrible. And then I have Cheri, she's the middle one and she's a social worker at, at a therapy clinic in Flint. And my youngest son lives in Washington, he um, he represents Indian tribes all over the country.


Like, um, primarily Indian uh, casinos.

Is he a lawyer?

No, he's a consultant. Like um, you know, Soaring Eagle, and some of those.

Must be interesting. And grandchildren?

Yes, I have uh, Cheri has three, I have two in Washington and two in New York.

Mazel tov.

Thank you.

My daughter's expecting twins.

Oy vey, wonderful.

That'll be our first grandchildren.

Oh my, oh my!

We're really excited.

I guess!

I feel like walking around with a sign.

Guess what I'm gonna be!

And, and none of them [the grandchildren] know the story.


Well they will now.

My, my grandson in, in New York called me and asked me if it would be too hard for me to tell him some things. He had to write it for his, for one of his yeshiva classes. And I was really surprised that, you know, because they believe the Holocaust, I guess, is...happened because we didn't follow God.

Is God's punishment, yeah. Um, so you told him some things?


You said you speak in class, in, in schools now?

Mm-hm. Oh, I have been for years. Lately I haven't, because I come back from Florida uh, when school's out. So...

So um, in Florida do you do this?

I did it once in Florida, but I do it in Flint at the college, and at high schools, Catholic schools.

Is it easier to tell strangers than it is to tell your family?

Mm-hm. Yeah.


It's, it's, I mean, today um, I was really emotionless, and I think it's because I'm, I'm nervous. My son-in-law's in the hospital, and I had to have a test today. That kind of...

I, I hope everything's OK.

I hope so. But usually I can't get through telling it without...

Well you did very well today.


Anything you'd like to add to this?

Well, unfortunately we haven't learned that much from the Holocaust, not to keep repeating things.

I think you're right. Um...

And for someone that survived it, makes me feel sad, and sad is a mild word, it's a meaningless ???

Do you think it's important to tell the story?

Oh yes.

Me too.

Mm. We're the last generation.

Well now I have the tape.

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