Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan Roth - February 4, 1983


Do memories like that come back to you during the day?

Something triggers it once in a while during the day. There is something that you read in New York Times or in some column and goes back and triggers something and then you stop and something comes back to you. But most, most of them come back unconscious at night.

You have nightmares?

Very! Last night I had one. Maybe because I was thinking about today? I don't know. But last night Edith had to poke me twice. And I was yelling and screaming.

What kind of nightmares?

I don't remember that one. I don't remember that one very well. It wasn't uh, the guy in the, in the ditch, but it was, a, it was a uh, I wa...I was being led to be shot. I was being led to be shot. But I don't remember why, but I remember uh, thinking whether I can get out of this or not and I don't remember what exactly it was that compelled me to start that s...suppressed scream. But uh, yeah, it was about four o'clock this morning. I was being led to be shot. I don't remember why and I remember it was in Jaworzno. Oh, there were a few from my barrack, being taken away to be shot.

Do you ever remember things before the war as well, that are painful?

Before the war, I had a very happy life, before the war. Very happy. I, I, I was a very loved child by my brothers and sisters. Spoiled rotten by my father ???. Uh...

Are there things about, times when you remember things about your life before? Holidays for example?

Oh yes. Yes. You know what I also remember, is when, like I said when my, my grandfather was an invalid. So every Shabbos and every high holiday, there was minyan in my house. I mean high holidays. We used to have, there was a big room that was vacant because my grandfather used to have a store over there and that and that had a front door. And that's where that--it became a synagogue, became a ???. Every Friday night, every Shabbos and every high holiday there was, there was services and my father was the bal tefilah. He had a good voice. And my, my, my brothers, in fact other balabatim, from, from the, from the community used to make, make a point of coming ever-so-often to attend the services over there. I remember that, that I was the big macher. It was a very happy childhood. We were very, very happy adolescents too. I don't remember being unhappy.

These, these memories come back at holidays?

Very often, yes. In the afternoon, I remember, even now on Saturday afternoon I still like to just do nothing Saturday afternoon. Just sit down, relax and maybe take a nap. I remember one uh, Saturday afternoons everybody took a nap except me because I knew that when they get up, guess what they are going to do, I got to stand the test what I learned during the week. Come five o'clock or four-thirty there was the, the gemora, there was the chumish and my father, my brother, or somebody: "Okay, read this chapter, read this chapter. What does this mean? Give me the interpretation of that," and so on. And it was called farher. Farher means uh, a test, a weekly test of my p...progress in my uh, education. Basically uh, uh, Jewish Hebrew education, in school I b...breeze through no problem there, straight -A student.

You came to the United States, when?

I came uh, August 1949.

And you are an American citizen?

Oh yes.

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