Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zoltan Rubin - January 12, 1983

Pre-War Life

Uh, Mr. Rubin, could you tell me your name and where you are from?

My name is Zoltan Rubin and I'm from Kapušany, which is in Czechoslovakia. It's in Slovakia.

And during the war uh, where were you during the war?

During the war... While, while, to start off, while everything was still under control, I was still at home in Kapušany. Then I went to Žilina on Gentile papers. Then I went to Germany as a prisoner of war in three places, in Lamsdorf, Kleindenbach, and Jena.

And these are prisoner of war camps?

These are prisoner of war camps, yes.

All right, let's start by talking about uh, what you remember about your life before the war. Could you tell me something about your family, the town you're from?

Yes, yes. Okay, our town is uh, rather I would say, it's a small village, it's about six miles, ten kilometers from a bigger city which is Prešov. Uh, this was a community... Let me say about Prešov is a community about 25,000 people. There were about uh, 2,000 Jews, so 800 families. And we lived about six uh, six miles from the small village. The village is uh, I would say, approximately, I think, about 200 uh, 200 families lived there. And among this, here we were seven Jewish families, one convert. Also, considered as a Jew because when he came to the war, when he came to Slovakia, he was deported just like we were. My father was, uh...We had a uh, a big, a big farm, and then we had uh, a mill, a flour mill and a saw mill and my father was in business, in grain and all the farmer produce he was uh, buying it up and uh, selling it. Converting the flour and, and this kind of...In other words, actually, what we were, we were...Mostly, we did business with these farmers. We had uh, about uh, 150 hectares of uh, land and uh, usually what it, what the business consisted of, is that the farmers used to buy from us all their fertilizers and all what they needed to, to, for their uh, uh, for their uh, uh... Okay, for their uh, let me see...Okay, oh, they, they needed all this stuff for they needed for their farming. Everything was in a ??? My father was, was supplying them. At the end of the season, when they were paying, when they had their produce, they brought it in by the end of this year. Also, whenever there was a necessary some loans, my father had a...My brother had a bank in the big city here. So, every time if they needed cash it was automatically, they were getting. So, my father was really, with the farmers, with the whole community, not only with that one, but with several villages, all the villages in our surrounding. We were...My father was like, like the supplier. And we were very, very close with them and uh, and uh, it was, it seems to me everything was nice. We had all the freedom we wanted. Um, we uh, as a matter of fact, my father... Some of the kids were going to school every place, anyplace we wanted. Uh, we were going to schools and we were going to cheders and we were going to...My older brothers, when they got older, were going to yeshivas. It was, it was a normal life like we expected and we didn't feel that uh, there is anything going to happen and in our community. As a matter of a fact uh, we were common, we were uh, belonged to the Zionist organization. My father was against it because my father was a very religious man. And when my brother uh, left, went to...In 1936, when he went to...In 1933, I think it was, he went with the Maccabi, there was a Maccabi in Czechoslovakia and he went to Israe...to, with them back to Israel uh, this time Palestine. My father wouldn't support him. As a matter of fact, my father wouldn't, wouldn't believe in it. He was against it. Until it came in 1938 and '39 when we started to feel then he really felt that he made a mistake and uh, that he didn't support it. But all, all this time until then we had, we had all the freedom what we wanted. We had a nice Jewish life. As a matter of fact, we had a...In my village, we didn't have a shul. We did have a shochet, but we didn't have a, a shul. So what happened, my father...We had in our home, a big home, so we had two rooms special for this occasion, it was always for minyan for...Like a Bes Midrash, that's what we had. So, we had minyan every time, every Saturday and we had uh, special rooms for, for the schnorrers. I don't know whether I should explain what a schnorrers is. Uh, since uh, the, the eastern part of Czechoslovakia was very poor, which is uh, Carpatho-Ruthenia it's called or usually um, the people were coming from there, they were going on after Pesach. It started to get summer and they were going on the road. They were going all summer, all summer they were schnorring. And then, for Rosh Hashanah, they went back home. So, we had a special room for them. A shtieble, it's called. And we had always two, three people there and there was always a kitchen open, and uh, and it, it was uh, nice Jewish life. Again, the one thing I can say that uh, our doors were always open. This was a policy that it was always open and as a matter of fact, I will never remember, never forget this year, my, my father, should he rest in peace, said, "Whenever a salesman comes to you, you should never let him out without buying something from him because this is his bread. The reason he comes to your door to sell you something because this is like a ???, like you would give him a ???, you support him. You support his livelihood." And today, when somebody comes in my business, and, and...Or when I was working for somebody else, and I was buyer, I would never let them out, not to say a good word. If I couldn't buy from him, at least I, I, I talked to him because I feel uh, this, that much I... My father, besides other things, he, he, he implanted it into me, that I should be to, to other people because it's very important.

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