Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zwi Steiger - March 27, 1982

Collecting Belongings from Home

What did you find?

What did I find? The house was uh, empty of furniture of everything. There were some--a few Russian soldiers in the house quartered. I found my grandfather's book in the, in the basement. So I took that--the one that he wrote. I stopped at some neighbors and the neighbor um, gave me some clothes that my mother left with her. And I...

Left with her for you?

Yeah. And from there I made my way back to Cluj, but on the way I stopped and looked up my--the, the imposed manager in the bank--the Hungarian who became, again, mayor of Sárospatak. I stopped at his place because the--our neighbor that was working with our father in the bank, she told me that he, that he got out from my father's uh, safe in the bank he got out his golden watch and some money. So I stopped by and I demanded it. And ??? said--he, he denied it. He had a doctor sitting in his house go to the Russian uh, to the Russian commander of the city. He agreed to dig it out and he dug out the, the golden watch of my father and gave it to me. He denied taking any money and I--for some reason I never pushed it too hard. I never was going um, the watch was uh, was uh, something else, you know. It wasn't uh, money. So I, I, I got it and I went back to Cluj where I started uh, medical school.

Do you still have the watch?

Yeah. After uh, after being caught by the Russians and thinking that I'm a spy, and after having it with me in Czechoslovakia and escaping Czechoslovakia, and I never thought I will be able to take it out from Czechoslovakia. So I gave the watch--which consisted of the watch and the chain--I gave it to um, to a cousin of mine who was working as a governess with the Canadian military attaché in Prague. I gave him--I gave her the watch, she gave it to him. And he was--he served together with my cousin who served in the Canadian air force during the war. He gave it to him eventually when he came back to Canada. And the chain I gave to a clerk in the Israeli embassy whom I knew from, from uh, school.

What Israel embassy?

What? In Prague, in, in '49 when I escaped uh, Czechoslovakia. And there eventually uh, I got it in Israel and I left it with my brother. But this, you know, I--you know, you, you grasp to something and you try to hold on to some parts of your past. So I was, I was after that, that watch. I don't have it since I didn't see it, I don't know now for--now from more than twenty-five years because I left it with my brother in Israel. I felt it should--he should have it.

Have you asked him about it in the last twenty-five years?

No, I'm sure he probably has it somewhere keeping it for him. Yeah.

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