Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Shlanger - March 4, 1983

Pre-War Life

First three minutes of audio has been permanently lost.

How far back in that town does your family go? That you know of?


This was not Czechoslovakia then, it was...

It was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And um, the family were horse traders. They were selling horses to the Austro-Hungarian Calvary. In the 1830s, my great-grandfather received special permission from the king. He was allowed, as a Jew, he was allowed to buy land. Other Jews were not allowed to own land at the time.

Was it because of his service to the army?

Because of the service to the Austro-Hungarian government.

So, was your father, your family was what, would you say middle class, upper middle class?

Upper middle class.

Um, were there uh, synagogues in the town?

Yes, there was a... two synagogues. One uh, Hasidic and the other one was an Orthodox synagogue.

And did you belong... did you attend services?

Um, my father wasn't a very religious person. He attended the synagogues but not regularly. And uh, the children never went to uh, Hebrew school. We had a teacher coming to the house once a week or twice a week.

I see.

But, but we didn't go to Hebrew school.

Did you keep Sabbath for example? Friday night, what was it like Friday night?

Yes, we kept Sabbath, yes. And we kept kosher but there were no separate tables for milkhik and fleyshik.

Would you say you were an assimilated family?

Yes, I would say we were assimilated.

Were you typical of the population in that town? Jewish population in that town? Was it an assimilated community?

Half of the population was like us and the other 25 percent was extreme Orthodox, Hasidic, and the other 25 percent Orthodox.

What do you remember of the cultural life? What kinds of things did you uh, do?

There were two Zionist organizations. A right wing and a left wing. Um, there was the Revisionist and the Hashomer Hatzair, which was more to the left.

Which did you belong to?

The Hashomir Hatzair.

What other kinds of--we'll come to the Zionist groups--what other kinds of uh, cultural life? Were there movies, shows?

Yes, there was a movie theater in town, owned by a Jewish family. And uh, there were some very wealthy uh, Jews in town. The owner of the power plant and the flourmill was a Jewish family. And um, and very wealthy peasants lived in the town.

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