Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Agi Rubin - December 19, 1984

Reminiscences of Experience

Did you adopt that attitude while you were in the camp, you think, pulling down the shade?

Yea, that's where... but you know, I pull down the shade on the wrong things, I like to remember things and I don't. The things I would like to remember, I don't. They somehow got mixed up somewhere and they crossed their wires somewhere.

Do you think that helped you survive?

Well, survive yes, but to live, no. Because everybody has roots and I feel that I don't. I went to a reunion to Israel, my school had the reunion, and I went to look for myself. Everybody remembers Munkacs, they remember where the street was and who lived there and they ask me if I'm from Munkacs, "you remember so and so?", so when they ask me about a second person, "yea, I think I remember." But this is just a big, the names I remember, but I cannot associate the, if I don't see the face, I don't remember, I have to have some contact with the voice or the face.

You mentioned the tree in Ravensbrück, you said it was a symbol as the end of the world, do you remember the tree? Can you tell me a little bit about the tree?

In Ravensbrück? There was no tree there.

You said there was barbed wire and the hanging tree.

Oh there. I don't know where the tree came from, but oh yes, I think I do. I saw, you know, there were people hung, aside from shots, and that picture is always haunting me, you know the hanging figures and the barbed wire because if I ever had a dream in Auschwitz yet, I would always, my good dream was that I was in my mother's arms, she was holding on to me, but the end of the dream was always about wire, so the reality was behind the good thing, the barbed wire, for me that was the end. So whatever happened prior to that didn't exist even the good because, that was I wanted to feel that security and yet it was finished up by the barbed wire. So nothing else existed.

Your adopted mother was in your arms when she died, do you remember the last thing she said to you, what you talked about most on the march?

On the march, she didn't talk much, she was almost delirious or she was very listless, and uh she just always kept on saying "God bless you, God bless you, things will be all right one of these days." She never talked about herself.

When we started, you said she used to tell you what she was going to cook.

Yea, that was in the beginning, it was always my favorite it was gonna be chicken paprikash with hallah and you know, I don't have the heart to take a piece of it, it is very good, take a piece of hallah, that's white bread, you know what hallah is, and you dip it into the gravy and that's fattening so you cannot eat it. That was the ultimate of well being. Chicken paprikash with hallah dipped in the gravy. And whenever I make chicken paprikash, I see my lady in front of me and she is gonna make, and I like to make chicken paprikash, cause I always think of her. I asked her for the recipe, I don't remember her recipe, I guess it was a universal recipe with onions and so on [laughing] but um, I think we all have our own idiosyncrasies and I know we do and I am aware of it. Uh, [pause] I can't speak for everybody, but I know we go through depressions some of us know how to fight it off, but the older you get the harder it is, it takes longer to get over it, you don't know what ignites that particular... the best times you can't... I mean maybe you are telling me a joke and I have a sense of humor, but it will just ignite something, maybe you will never know what I'm thinking about. I don't either. So we don't know what causes it. It happens and then comes over again the strength, that maybe our training, the camp training gave me, if you are not strong, you're not gonna be here. So that this power of strength overwhelms the power of depression. Now I'm gonna show you that I'm strong even if it kills me. So our, we are rewarding ourselves, I think that I want to reward me with my strength and if I don't have that, then I don't think anything of myself. Then I get very low.

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