Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rita Rosenzweig - March 24, 1983

Grieving for Parents

Mm. Can you recall the community's reaction, as well as your own, to the people who were coming back from war experiences?

Well, I really wasn't that involved. The only one I can remember is uh, um, a couple that I knew real well, a young couple. And uh, I know when I saw him I just about passed out because he was, was just terrible when they came off. You know, I remember when I--and it was just--I knew when I saw the first people coming home, there was just a few. And, and when they started telling us what was going on, said--we knew--he said--they, they said right away, "Don't expect too many people back."Especially Belgium people, Holland. From Holland and all that people were not used to suffer. And it was already um, assimilated, more or less, and it was an easier life already, than people living in Poland that were not as hard. And they said they just were falling like flies and they just couldn't take it. And of course you cou...had to be very lucky to get out of it I guess, you know. But uh, some that were hiding started all crawling out of the woodwork, you know, we all uh, people rejoiced to see, "oh, you're left."But everybody missed somebody. It's just like you have part of your body uh, a leg missing, or an arm missing. You know, you, you--it's not the same thing anymore, there was just um, a sadness because everybody lost somebody. There was some lost children, some lost their parents, some kids were left, some kids were with the priests, some were in uh, with the nuns, they, they didn't want to come out. Like I had a hard time myself coming back out, leaving these people, because they happened to be terrific people, very loving people. So they really replaced my parents. I couldn't have found any better. You know, until, until they died a few years ago, they were just like my mother and father. I mean they were just--because I needed that love. You know, I needed to have something to, uh, you know you need something to hold on because after the war, I really had nobody because my uncle, as much as he said he, he loved me, he--it was never really gave me what I really needed, you know? Neither did my aunt. And this mother Maréchal was very nice, but she never had any children, and she was very fanatic in her own religion and all she really could think was trying to convert me. So all she was really doing was, uh, you know, praying, and I almost went crazy in three months, because all--it was this praying in the morning and praying before breakfast and after breakfast and before lunch and bef--after--and it was--I was so nervous that every time I took a dish I just dropped it. And so after finally three months when I was able to get out I was just like uh, a wild animal. It was just, you know. But when I was living after--years after the war even I came back, they, they were really--I mean, tremendous--it was--didn't make any difference between me and the kids. Whatever their kids got, I got the same thing. And they made the kids a dress, you know, they would--we made dresses from parachute, cause we had no clothes. You know the white, um--so you know, they were really, you know, very nice, and I think that's why I need--that's why I really came to this state is so I really needed to feel close to them I think, 'cause I really followed them, you know. So I think really that's what it was, mostly. That you need um, this mother, you, you, you need that, that uh, love, I mean you missed that, you know. I don't care how old. I mean, after so many years it was uh, you just feel like it--an emptiness. Terrible emptiness. It was just like you're, you're just falling in a hole and there's nothing there. I mean it just uh, uh, it's hard to get out of it. I mean you really--I really thought many times I was gonna go, really um, you know, break uh, get a breakdown. I mean, but you keep telling yourself, "Well, you can't do that."You know, and, and by the time I had kids, so I felt, "Well, you know, I really can't let myself..."But it's, it's very, very hard. Uh, it's--I think it's one of the hardest things I ever did in my life, I think, is trying to get out of it. You know, that feeling. That lost. You know, it just--I still do, as a matter of fact. I uh, I still miss my mother 'cause we were very close and, you know, and it was just um, it's uh, uh, it's uh, um, I think maybe if you see you--your parents die a natural cause, you, you can face it better. You figure, "Well."You see them dying. But this way--you know they were young people. You know, my mother was like thirty-two. And my dad maybe thirty-three. And, and you feel it's such a waste of life, I mean, what did they ever get? What did they ever enjoy? I mean, all they did is work, and work, and work and--you, you--when--just when you want to start enjoying--and I think uh, what really hurted me the most is the idea of how maybe they died. That's one thing I just can't um, you know, my mother, I'm sure didn't live too long.

You have no idea where she was taken?

Uh, no, the U.N. kinda declared them dead um, in Auschwitz. My mother, and my dad, became lost. Whether they have the records, I don't know, really. You know, we were just sent a paper. Or, or we--I had to write whatever, ask them and they just presumably dead.

[interruption in interview]

Yeah, so I guess uh, the U.N. must have just um, you know, put a--they--I think what they gave is they gave the day that the people were arrested. Like my mother was arrested the 31st, or the 30th of July, I think, 1943. And this is when they presumed her dead. You know, now I didn't get one from my dad because my dad was arrested um, I think uh, he was playing cards in some kind of a cafe. And he was arrested I know, and sent, you know, sent away. So you really had to be lucky, some people were just picked off the street. You know, it all depend.

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