Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Relations with Gentiles

Did you have Gentile friends when you went to school?

Yes. We were living--in fact, I was living in a Gentile neighborhood. We had a few--about, about a half a dozen Jewish neighbors. Or mostly it was a Gentile, a Gentile neighbor on Jer...on uh, the street named ???. A big uh, writer--a Polish writer. And uh, and that was--on this street was a gymnasium. And in that--the time when students start going to the gymnasium it was, was impossible to cross the street because when they recognized that I'm Jewish--or they throwed snow--when it was wintertime snowballs--or they throwed stones or sticks on, on me.

How would they know that they you were Jewish?

They recognized. They knew it. I was dressed not uh, religious, because I was dressed a plain uh, a jacket, and pants, and the shoes. Or they recognized who is Jewish and who's not.

Did you know how long that your family lived in Poland?

My family lived uh, what I can go back about a hundred and twenty or a hundred and thirty years. My first great-grandfather, his name was Eddie Yudel Rothenberg and he was a, a merchant on the river Vistula. He used to sell wheat because our city was boundarying with Austria.

So you were in the south of Poland.

And, and we were Russia, and the other side of the river was Austria. And then my grandfather was born maybe in the, in uh, in the 1800's--in 1850, maybe 1860. So he was a merchant himself too. Then in 1905 he came to United States, my grandfather, to Detroit. And my father had brother--they came to United States. Only my grandfather was very religious and he wrote a letter to my father and he said not to come because United States is not as religious as uh, at home. So my father hold back and he didn't want--he didn't come. Or he had two brothers and a sister, what they came to United Sates and I have--I had a lot of living in Detroit from the Rothenberg family.

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