Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Agi Rubin - December 19, 1984

Present Day Family and Thoughts

Now, when did you come to Detroit?

Uh, to Detroit in 1951. I to the States, I came in 1948, we were lucky enough my father's sister was here since early age, since she was 18, and then she found out her family whoever was alive she send us the affidavits and we were able to emigrate to the United States. It took three years to maintain the papers just as well.

So you have married, and you have children, you have a family here now.

Yes, I'm married and my husband's name is Zoli Rubin he comes from Czechoslovakia, but I met him in Detroit. He's from Presov or [Eperiesch?]. And we have three children Vicky, Aman, Randy, they are all, they are still children but they are for me they are children, but they are adults they are 25, 24 and 20. They all attend school and uh, my husband is a business man in Detroit, and I'm just a girl Friday, or Friday girl, [laughs], I just do little bits here and there.

I want to come back to your children in a minute and just ask you a couple of questions about attitudes may linger after this... Now and then you mentioned your questions about God... do you still question, ask those questions about where God was during the experience in the camps?

Right now? No I don't question, but I did at the time of liberation, I had fights with God. And uh, the reason I remember is because I used to make notes to myself but I couldn't talk to others I wrote it in my own notes which I discovered many years later. And going through it, yes I argued with the God but in the same breath, I asked for his forgiveness. So it was a doubt and yet a fear or belief that, yes He does exist. It still won over, while I was fighting with Him, I was afraid of Him. For respect, I don't know what it was, but judging from my little scribbles to myself that I could only talk to myself because, going back to why I didn't, we talk about it, we thought, when we arrived to, you know you go in little steps, when you arrive to Auschwitz the striped people, the people that those were the crazy people, then you were the crazy person, so we went in little steps now this is the same thing. If I don't believe, how can I, you would think I am crazy if I tell you stories like this. I mean in the beginning to tell you stories or tales would you have believed it? And this is the reason that I guess now people start realizing it that it's not only our duty as survivors to talk about it but the public's duty to themselves to listen to it and pay attention to it. So inasmuch as it is hard, I think it is our duty and obligation to talk about it in our loved ones memory if for nothing else.

In light of that, what are your feelings about the Germans?

Uh, what do you mean?

In light of this sense of responsibility you feel to those who died, how do you feel towards them?

Well, I feel that every killer that was a murderer is guilty. In Germans in general, I respect their ability for whatever their ability is, I cannot call everybody a killer, but I would be more cautious maybe with Germans than I would be with Americans. Uh, inasmuch as we have, I don't believe they are guilty, the ones that did it, yes they are guilty and they deserved to be punished, but whether we trust them 100%, there is always a wall there. But we are willing to talk about it.

Have you talked to your children about it?

Not on my own, we didn't talk to our children until the program of the Holocaust was shown. I always waited for a question from them. Just like I said, I can't two people meet after 20 years, what's news? Nothing. It's the same thing? So what happened in camp, how did you live in camp? How did you survive? I don't know. Little by little, and then little by little, you start unfolding. I always waited for the question or the right age, what is the interest, we didn't talk about it. Just very recently until they had the questions like my son was about eight maybe ten years old at the time and they had an episode with the underground partisans that he had to you know, he was fighting, he wore the gun and my husband was a partisan also and my son's question was to his father, "you were a partisan, did you have to... did you kill people? Did you have to kill people?" No, quot;did you kill people?" He said, "I was lucky enough that I didn't have to, but if I had to defend my own life, I would have used the gun just like you saw the man on the program." Now how do you tell a ten year old child that your father is a killer? How do you explain so, to defend yourself, yes, he said "I would have if I had to defend" so what makes you in that child's eye? Again depends on the child's age and his conception of life.

Did your children ever ask you where their grandparents were?

Well, I had a father. Yea, we told them, but not in so many details. The less they asked, we never volunteered. And especially my husband didn't. But he finally opened up too and is able to talk about it and now we talk about it of course, they are adults now and they are interested and they are encouraging me in my work, very much. And my son, in fact he promoted some of my lectures in school because they asked for a volunteer, he said "I'll bring my mother," [laughs] so I guess in his own way he is proud of the fact, but not person-to-person basis. I took him to the museum and I told him I would appreciate if he goes with me, he said well, all right.

The Holocaust Museum?

Yes. And I stood by and asked him if he needed any explanation I'd be glad to assist, he said "mother I can read, please," he doesn't want me to go through the agonizing thing and they're very quiet in their observance. See when you are close to somebody, you cannot relate to them as you can to a stranger. To give you a small example, when you are in the hospital, and you are next there to a person, a total stranger, you talk about the most intimate things that you don't even talk to a friend or a summer friendship, that is why, it is a fly by night thing. A child or a family that is very close is hurt to you more so they don't want to bring you to that level that you should talk about it. This is my theory about it.

Do they know about life in Munkacs?

Oh yes. My son thinks everybody comes from Munkacs. [laughter] He's very proud of the fact that, we were in Mexico in Acapulco in the ocean and he heard somebody speak Hungarian. And uh he was eight years old and he drags these people over, he says "my mother is from Munkacs, she speaks your language"... so the people looked and they came over because they had to be polite, I mean Munkacs is a very little point on the map, but Budapest, that's a big city and these people happened to be from Budapest, he says "Munkacs" and but he was very proud so he came over and introduced the people, he is proud of Munkacs. We have somebody now, that says that now, I don't understand Munkacs was so small, you had 20,000 people yet it seems like everybody comes from there. You have a little city of the world. [laughter]

Let me ask you one last question about Munkacs, do you think you and Zoli have tried to recreate what your family life was like before the war here in Detroit?

I hope we do, I hope... we uh a family by a holiday by us means family but even if it's not our immediate family, whoever we feel close to, we like to create a family atmosphere, and a holiday atmosphere, and to me that is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. It's very rewarding and very pleasing. I don't know if I do it because I like it, I mean I do like it, or like you asked to recreate what I don't remember from my childhood, but I enjoy doing it. I know my husband does because he comes from a large family of 11 and, he is the youngest in their family, he is the only survivor, with the exception of a brother that lives in Israel, but he wasn't in the Holocaust, he went to Israel early in 1930's so my husband practically they were strangers after the war because they didn't grow up together and the oldest brother who lived in Persia, was like a father to him after liberation, but he lost him since then too. So for my husband to recreate I'm sure that's how he feels about it because he never objects for me to invite 30 people or 50... the more the merrier, he enjoys it and so do I.

I've got about two minutes left. Is there anything you want to add? Conclusion?

Well, a conclusion. Uh, we are not here to tell stories really, not for our own good, I mean whatever happened to us happened. It's not, we are not here for pity's sake. What we are trying to relay is for the future generations' protection, awareness and things should never happen again that can happen to next door can happen to your own, your very own backyard. And just have compassion and understanding and I hope through that, the world can be even better... we can make it a better world to live in.

Thank you, Agi.

Thank you.

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