Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rita Rosenzweig - March 24, 1983

Immediate Post-War Emotions

I really thought that--I remember my mother saying, "If I ever get caught, I'll never come back."Because I guess she musta known because of my aunt being taken, so she musta known already what was going on uh, on the train, how they were, you know--clothes and what they were doing to them, when they first--so, but I really never understood what she meant and I told her, "Well, people is just going to work."You know, but I never even thought that she would even be picked up, but I know when she was of--you know, taken--when this Madam Maréchal came to get me I was--she didn't tell me until I was in the house and I was really uh, hysterical, because that always stuck in my mind that my mother always said, "If I'm taken, I'll never come back."So I really, deep down, had always had the feeling she'd never come back. Even though I really didn't want to believe it, you know, but deep down I always thought, "Well, you know it's, uh, I'll never see her."But then the war ended, and um, when the Americans came in, I came back to here--where I went first to the sister by Brussels. And um, I went um, I think back to Liège to see my uncle. But then it took a time before they--everybody start coming home, you know. So I stayed in their house until--for a long time. And then when my uncle realized that my parents were not coming back um, he wanted me to come back and live with him. And I really didn't want to. 'Cause by that time I'd gotten used to the people, that I told him I wanted to stay there until my, you know, my mother comes back. And they really wanted me to stay with them until my mother comes back because they felt that they've been like parents to me for you know, several years now, and they felt close to me, too, you know. But um, for a while he said okay, but then after he came back when he realized my parents were not coming back, he came back and got me to live with him. You know, he didn't know himself what to to with me because by that time I was like, sixteen, seventeen, and it's not easy to have uh, you know, actually two kids and his own. There was my cousin, myself, and you know, his son, and my aunt was not, you know, she, she's a nice woman though they didn't have that um, understanding. I guess maybe I was difficult, too, after. I was restless, I didn't know what to do. And I wanted to go back to school, and he didn't wanna pay for it. And I want--then I wanted to go to work, and he wouldn't let me go to work because he felt that being in a, uh, in a small--well, Liège isn't such a small city, but all the Jews knew one--each other, they knew my mother, and he felt that if I go to work, the people are going to um, say, "What do you mean, you let your niece go to work."So I was really in, in, like a jail. I felt like I was in jail. I--just, I mean I almost went crazy. I just um, he says I was miserable but I, I had to go, you know, help in the store--he had a store. And then uh, you know, on Sunday they would go play football and I [phone ringing] would clean up the, you know, kitchen...

[interruption in interview]

Okay well I think the worst feeling really that I felt, is uh, I was just telling my son yesterday, is jealous. When I saw a family left together, mother and father and the kids. I, I just wanted to kill 'em. And I knew it wasn't their fault, but I just was so jealous, I just, you know I kept telling myself, "Well, why them and not me?"You know, why did it happen to, you know, to me. And I was just miserable. You know, I just um, I--then I started night school, but I just couldn't concentrate. 'Cause I guess I was just so nervous, I was um, I had trouble with my stomach after the war from all the fo...you know, the garbage we ate. So I went to a specialist, started on a strict diet. And um, it was just something that was missing it was, I--then I met my husband, which, you know, we were cousins. We were going out for a while. We were going together. And um, I had no money. So every time I would need a few dollars I almost have to beg my uncle. 'Cause I, you know--finally I think we, we got married when we were about nineteen. So I shlepped like that for you know, for a while--cleaning, you know, cleaning the house and washing and cooking and you know, going on my bike and coming back and then I used to embroid a lot. But it was nothing--it was just a waste of years, is what it is. I think that if I would have had someone to sit down and really, you know, talk and say, "Hey look, I want you to go back to school and do something."You know, so we were just uh, we were not here, not there. You know, there was no, no base. I think maybe if my mother woulda come back she woulda sent me back to school. But I think my uncle really um, maybe he didn't know any better, you know, I--my aunt didn't know any better either, you know. So but it took a long, many, many years before you get over that um, hurt and frustration and, and jealousy and trying to understand why. I think it--I was already married with kids and I still was crying, and I, I would cry every day. I would walk around the house just crying. And I think it's just, maybe the past ten years I would say, that, that it's been better, you know. And I had a fear of basements when I first moved here. And we had a basement, oh! I just--I would just run in back and I always thought there was somebody, you know. And then, then you had the feeling that somebody's following you, for many, many years, cause you know you get into the habit. And I was hiding to turn around and see if somebody's following you. And so for many years I would just go like this, and I was just--I mean, things are just so hard to get rid of, you know. So it's, it's, it's not easy.

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