Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Agi Rubin - December 19, 1984

Looking for Family

At what point do you think you realized what had happened to the rest of your family and how did you feel?

How did I realize? There was a transport coming from my grandparents hometown and I was looking for my grandmother and for my aunt, not for my little cousin who was four years old at the time. Didn't I tell already that I had no right to look for them. And there was nobody there, and I asked, did you see my grandmother, the you know, I mentioned the name, did you see Alleska? Well, and then I came and sat in the back, I says, you fool, don't you know that you are doomed to die here, this is the end of the world. You are not human being, you are not, you are an animal, and animals because the people were killed, and they were gassed, and God only spared the animals, because we are not worth to even die. And I was convinced for the longest time that we were spared only because we weren't people, because how can you endure anything like that and God is watching over us, right? Now if he wanted to spare us, he didn't spare us as human beings, he spared us as animals and yet the force that to prove it otherwise was still existing [pause] within.

[long pause]

Were there any old people in the camp? When you looked for your grandparents did you see anybody's grandparents?

No, no, no. That was, I worked there three weeks already, and I was still looking, I thought, I mean this was just... I knew it, I just didn't want to know it and I looked at the flames because it was facing me day and night and the smell, I just kept on going, and said "no that's not true." Up until now, since we have our memorials erected for our loved ones, I've forgot, not up in the flames. We have something for their memory. Uh, even if it is not reality, but we want to believe that they didn't die in vain, not just... you know, I was even jealous at people that were able to go and pay their respects to a cemetery, to a grave, sounds very strange, we have nowhere to go to pay our respects. We cannot pour our souls out to anybody because they are up scattered in the sky or in the... and when I lost my father ten years ago, here in the States, and a friend of mine came up to me, just to give you an idea what this means to us, this belonging, uh, she said to me... I have to tell you something, I have a confession to make to you. I was happy to go to your father's grave, I feel that my father is there too. Would you allow me to go and pay my respects to his grave? Now it sounded very strange. She said, I even talk to the Rabbi, he says, you are not sinning, I mean that's just your inner feeling, and I said to her, I would be glad to share with you. Now I never, we never talked about it again. But, this is... I don't only speak for myself, I'm sure other people are not unique to this sense that I'm the only one to feel, everybody feels in their own way. But it struck me very strange at that time that I thought I was the only one that felt it. There are others that feel the same way. We just don't know how to express ourselves.

Did you talk about these things in the camp, your adopted family, did you talk to them about your feelings in front of the crematorium, about your worries about your mother?

No, no. We didn't talk about our own feelings. No, we just talked about when we gonna survive, when we gonna be liberated, what we gonna do then. My adopted, my lady, I call her, I refer to her as my lady, uh she would always ask, what is your favorite dish? That's the one I'm gonna make first when we liberated. And my greatest loss, among many others, was that it was my challenge and my fight to see this lady off Majdaneka, and take her home and then the last minute she died in my arms and I couldn't bring her home. And I kept her going all that time, and right at liberation she just gave up in exhaustion and she was in a coma for two days and I didn't even know it, I refused to believe it. Now that's another... that's later on. That's what I did at liberation time. But this particular lady gave up living the minute she was separated from her husband due to the fact that she had a dream and she was at home and I remember as a child because we were very, very close friends from home. This family, my girlfriend and I, started kindergarten together and started friendship up it is a lifelong friendship and then this is a family that we were in camp together with. She had a nightmare and it was so vivid to her and she got into camp, her hair was dark, pitch black, and when the fuzzes started growing it was pure white, I mean practically overnight. And it was all due to the fact that she had that dream. She never talked about that dream, what it was, she was fearful about it, or superstitious that if she is gonna repeat it then it's gonna become a reality and she gave up living. She wouldn't eat, I had to force her, you know, we would get the ration and some people would fight that you get the bigger piece, it existed, unfortunately, between mother and daughter, it existed, between sister and sister, or friends, they would steal from each other. Now you went to sleep and you had a portion, you had, I had a little cup and a piece of bread and that was my pillow, because that was your greatest possession, that's what you owned. And sometimes you woke up in the morning, there was no cup and no bread, which you saved for badder, you know, for when you are really passing out of hunger. But when we received our portion, we didn't let her cut it, I that was the cutter, because she would give us the bigger portion and I wouldn't allow that, so I had to, I was the one selected to cut everybody's portion. And everybody got it alike. Cause she would give up her own portion. [pause] And um, I'm going back and forth...

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