Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Shlanger - March 4, 1983

Attitude Toward Germans

Let me go back for a second to the, your um, visit to Germany. Well, let's go back a little further. When the war was over in 1945...


How did you feel about Germans? What was your attitude?

Hatred. Hatred. At the time when I was liberated, if I would have had power, I would have killed Germans indiscriminately. Of course, today I wouldn't be able to do that.

And when you went back in 1970, what was your reaction?

I felt hostility toward the Germans. When I went back in 1970. Uh, but um, I expected that I'm going to face a bunch of belligerent uh, people but I was very much surprised. They were very nice. Everybody was very helpful. I was sent to a physician for an examination and he told me that it was uh, error to reduce my disability because uh, my disability should be considered 100 percent, not 80 percent. Everybody was very, very helpful, very nice. I do not have the same feeling about the Germans I had prior to my trial in 1970.

Have you thought about the contrast between the Germans being so nice in 1970 and... ?

Yes, I couldn't understand it. Are these the same Germans that committed all those horrors? That caused me so much pain? It was a tremendous change the way I used to know Germans. Well, I recall in the late 1930s, the German people, they all backed Hitler and his ideologies. There was very little opposition to Hitler and Nazi Germany. None of those things uh, start to go bad for the Nazi's in 1943, then the German people woke up; they were trying to change. But until then, Hitler was backed by the German people.

So, how do you explain this difference?

I don't know. I... Well, nobody wants to be on the side of the loser. I think, that's the reason why they were changing because by... after Stalingrad and after the North African campaign, everybody knew that uh, that Germany lost the war, it just a matter of time. Even uh, Hungary wanted to make a separate treaty with the Allies, the Soviet Union, Britain, and France. They were even negotiating in Moscow and Lisbon.

In '43?

1943. They were negotiating for a separate treaty.

Now since you've come back uh, you have children.


Tell me a little about your children.

Well, I have two daughters, one is uh, twenty-five, the other is twenty-three. My older daughter graduated from University of Michigan. She's presently employed by Rockwell International in California. And my younger daughter graduated from Wayne State and um, she is uh, she majored in computer science. Is employed by the Whitaker Company as a management engineer.

Are you proud of them?

Well, they are both working for graduate degrees now and I think they'll have the same amount of education that I have.

Uh, before we finish uh, is there anything that you want to add to, to the interview. Maybe a last statement or something you feel you ought to say?

Well, the only think I can say that uh, that people should never let themselves be indoctrinated with hatred toward their fellow man. That's all I can say.

Thank You.

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