Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Life in Italy

This was in Italy?

In Italy.

You call it a kibbutz, it was a...

No, a kibbutz. We were on a real kibbutz like they have it in Israel. I was in kibbutz ???.

This was where in Italy?

In, in Maria Di Leuca.

It's, uh...

By the Mediterranean. By the Adriatic and Mediterranean uh, Sea.

And it was sponsored by the UNRRA?

It was--maybe it was sponsored by the UNRRA. I, I just went in because I was a Betar when I was a youth. And I, you know, I missed my youth life and I want to live it up. We had lectures over there. We had dances. We danced the hora. I used to stay on the roof uh, guarding the uh, Israeli flag, you know.

In which year?

In 1945, '46, '47, '48.

And uh, were you trained militarily there?

No, I, I--a fact--I took a trade, a trade over there to be a fisherman. So I used to go on the sea and I learned how to put nets and I used to catch fish, and I used to eat raw fish. We used to grab little--the, the little sardine--or the smelts, we used to break off the head and we eat 'em raw. I saw it I start vomiting. Then I got used to it and I used to eat the raw fish and, and everything. I--we had a, a nice Jewish fellow--a Lithuanian from Lithua and he was a, a Navy man or something and he trained us to be fisherman. When we come over to Palestine, we will become fisherman. Well I never made it to shore.

It was difficult to get to Palestine.

It was for other organizations. From the other organizations they were under Ben Gurion so they have--they had aliyah.

Which organizations would those be?

Noar Hatzioni, Hashomer Hatzier, uh, Aguda it was--three Jews, ten organizations. And I happened to go in to, to Betar Kibbutz and they said that they are going to ???. And we talked about Joseph Trumpeldor, we talked about Herzl. We talked about Jewish history. But I missed it. I was--I lived in this kibbutz and then--and I studied for this kibbutz and I studied for this kibbutz and that kibbutz, they never sent me. So that's when I got time to look around. Because I, I didn't--the truth, I didn't want to come to the United States, because I figured I lived through--only the family send me letters and they said, "You, you the only one survived from such a large family. Come, come, come." So I came here. I was in Israel twice. Yeah, I would love to live in Israel.

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