Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Schleifer - August 1, 1982

Hometown, Early Childhood, Background

The town in which you lived, how, how large would you say it was?

How, how small ? [laughs]

How small was the town [laughs]?

[laughs] To be exact, I was just a small kid at the time and I don't know exactly how many, how much population they had, but it wasn't that big uh, everybody knew everybody. The whole thing may be uh, what do I say size of maybe Oak Park. It was about, maybe, maybe the size of Oak Park, maybe smaller.

Mainly Jews?

No, it was Jews and Gentiles.

How many synagogues?

Only one.

Um, what was your family's religious affiliations?

What do you mean by that?

Were they religious...they?

Oh, everybody, for instance, uh, uh, in our town uh, you had some who were more Orthodox, but the, the majority, everyone, everyone was an Orthodox uh, uh, thing but it, uh, being having the bus uh, uh, concession, our bus would have to go seven days a week so my father couldn't have been no Orthodox, but he was a Jew, a good Jew.

Okay, understand that some of these questions, while they may seem obvious, of course, they are going to be heard by people who are doing research and may not know all these answers. Um, were there any political affiliations in your family? Any Zionists or people who belonged to the Bund?

No, not, not to my knowledge.

Did you have any newspapers in the house?

Oh, generally newspaper. Newspaper we had uh, would be the local paper that is about the size of.

All right. Describe about your education.

Well, actually uh, comparing to the United States uh, uh, I would say I had finished high school. I was the last year of high school when I went in concentration, then they picked me up and I went to concentration camp. That was the size of it. After that, I, I went in it was uh, 1944, I was fourteen years old so, that was the, that was the thing.

Had you encountered any anti-Semitism there?

Anti-Semitism uh, wasn't, to a certain extent in the town, it wasn't, it wasn't that, that big the Nazis start coming in. I mean, when the war broke out with Poland, actually we didn't see no Nazis. When, when totally, totally war broke out with Poland. Then we start seeing Nazis and everybody else start having some, a little bit of, of anti-Semitism ???

But prior to that, are you saying in the town there just wasn't much?

There wasn't much uh, I would say. There wasn't that many. I mean, well they actually, I mean, again, I was just a small kid so I couldn't see the, the, the things. Even if it was some anti-Semitism there, I--it wasn't a fact to me because I, I wasn't uh, uh, a grownup person. In other words, I didn't see what was going on.

But, okay, go ahead...

But in the school, I didn't see it. We didn't have no problems being a Jew.

What were your plans for the future before the war?

Before the war, I was going to get educated which when, after I came back from the war, I was by myself. I didn't have nobody. I just came back and went to our maid, the maid who used to work for us. She, she was the only one who, who accepted me and I stayed with her 'til I found some of my family, some of my cousins and uncles. Then, I went to Prague.

Before the war, what, what were you uh, thinking of doing?

Well, that was, as I said, I was just a kid and didn't finish high school yet so I didn't uh, know what, what type of--I mean, what kind of work the thing I want to do.

You had no, what you are saying is then you had no firm plans.

No firm plans. At fourteen, I--not too many have at fourteen.

This is true. Were you Bar Mitzvahed?

Yes, I was.

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