Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rita Rosenzweig - March 24, 1983

Coming to the United States

How long did you remain in Belgium?

Uh, we stayed uh, we came over in um, 1952. Yeah uh, five years after I was married. So there must've been about seven years after the war ended.

And the reason you came to the United States?

Uh, well, I came first of all because the people were here. And uh, I just felt like myself um, I didn't get along with my uncle, for one thing. Not that I didn't get along, but I was just kinda mad with certain things. I'm not gonna get into it. And um, my father's side, my two uncles came back and they really, you know didn't pay too much attention to us. And so I just felt that um, there was nothing in Belgium for us. If--first of all, it was very hard for us to, to make a living because you had absolutely nothing. And nobody really cared, as orphan, you know, that--sometimes that you need the parent to help you do uh, something, with, you know--so we were very um, we wanted a complete chance. I wanted a complete chance. I wanted to come to these people because I felt that they were the only one who already gave me love that I needed, you know, beside my husband. You know, your husband is fine, but you still have to have the need of having somebody. Which I think it probably was in me uh, I really think that um, you know, I could've just stayed in Belgium, have probably the same thing. I think if I would've really understood myself. You know what it is? I think it was just the fight in me, I think, and I just didn't know what I wanted. So I wanted to come over, my husband really didn't wanna, because he had a brother--his little brother was in Belgium. But the family was just driving me crazy. And I just, you know, like I said, I just wanted to get away. And I was writing to the daughter who kept in--you know, we were keeping in touch and she said, "Really,"she says, "If you come here, you might start a new beginning."And then she says, "I think it's a nice life."So uh, when I first came I wasn't that happy. Then I was missing Belgium, and I felt well it was a nice life in Belgium, but I, I think once you get used to it--now I'm happy we came because of the kids because in Belgium there's no Jewish life at all. All the young people end up in Israel, and a few who are staying completely assimilated and all inter-married. So I think here we still had the better chance. I mean, I, I--you know, so far I feel that my kids had a better chance. Uh, you know easier for education or--I mean, it completely different you know. I think that um, now I think we made the right choice by coming over, but it took many years.

What other problems did you encounter when you first came to the United States?

Um, well, even though I was close to the people, I was very lonely. Because in Belgium is--you're going, walking the street, there's always a lot of people, there's people you know, and you walk, you know, into the store you know this one and in that store you know that one, and this one knew my mother, and there was people--I used to go in the market with my mother and I would know all these people, and I--when I, I was here, I missed the people that knew my, my parents. You know, and I think when you come here and life is so different that you just feel like--I felt like I was in jail again because um, you first had no car and then I was--I had my sons. So, you know, it was not easy to go run, and my husband didn't make that good of a living in the beginning, so I just felt that I was right back where I started, right in the house again, you know, just felt trapped. But then you know you uh, you learn to live. It's--I think once you make up your mind that you're here and that's how you're gonna have to live. I didn't want to go back to Belgium. That's one thing I knew, you know, so it takes a few years. But after that, you make friends, and um, you know, your kids grow up, and uh, you know you make a different life, and then you realize in the end that really all that count is you and your husband, and I think when you come to the realization that, you know, your kids, you have them for a while, and they leave home and they have their own life to lead, you really go back to, you know, your, your husband and yourself and your friends. Of course it's nice when you have family, but um, this is the choice I made coming over, so--I miss my brother-in-law. I miss seeing my husband's brother. We're close even though we're far, and um, the family give him to us when he was only twelve years old, and I think I just couldn't handle it because he was very hard to bring up, and we had nothing ourselves, we were only twenty-one ourselves. It was very hard to take care of a twelve-year old, and that kind of finished me, so one of his uncles--I told him if I didn't have ??? and he said, "Well I'll take him."So this is why we decided--and I thought we would bring him over later but then because I felt it wasn't fair to bring him with us 'cause we didn't know what we would find and it was, I had a two-year old, and, you know, it was very hard--it was a big responsibility. So uh, he stayed with my uncle which had a son like ten months apart, and they were like brothers. You know but then he met his wife and he didn't come, so this um, but I think that's one of the reasons I left. I just felt that I couldn't um, I couldn't handle a twelve-year old at twenty-one, and I was pregnant with my son, and that kind of, you know, finished it for me.

When you first came to the United States, did you experience any anti-Semitism here?

No, really, never did. No.

And did you become a citizen?

Yeah, it took five years.

Mm-hm. Do you still keep in touch with this brother-in-law?

Oh, yeah. Definitely. We're very close.

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