Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Malka Sternberg - January 31, 2008

Reunion with Father

What was the reunion like when you got--saw your father again?

No, it wasn't a reunion for me but then I, I had to go through the first days already. I'll give you an example: I arrived a week before Shavuot and all the people from our town who were living in Israel there came to see me and we talked and I talked and when I talked my father went like that. I didn't know what I'd said, I'd said something terrible. I must have said--another time I said a word, oh. I didn't know what it was and then I asked him--pulled him out and ask him, "What have I said?" He said, "You're talking--you talk only when you're asked questions. You answer, you don't talk." I couldn't accept that but that's what it was. For instance, another thing that, that--thank God it didn't work out that way--I had a cousin--I was very fond of the cousin--they lived together--in those days a three room flat would be gone--belong to three families or two families, you know? So I stand outside for Cohen's ring, for ??? ring twice and for Greenberg's ring twice and knock. This was regular out there. So, we were--instead of living with strange people we were living with my uncle, aunt and her--their daughter who I was very fond of them--all three of them. And the, the, the room beforehand belonged to a Polish officer who kill...killed himself or hung himself in the bathroom--hanged himself in the bathroom so the room was empty and my father took it so we had for, for my father and me and it just didn't work out. There's one thing: this cousin was a lovely girl, was beautiful--didn't look anything like me--she looked beautiful and she was very clever and very gifted. And when she bought a dress she wanted me to go and buy exactly the same dress. And shoes--she bought shoes, you've got to buy shoes. His only complaint with me was--he showed me the first day where he keeps his money--when he gets his salary he keeps it there and I didn't spend enough and that annoyed him. He leaves money there and I didn't spend it. But uh, what my cousin did, I had to do and neither the cousin or I would have wanted it but he wanted it. He was afraid that I didn't have a mother and my aunt excellent taste, she was a wonderful woman, so I should do what she says instead of my mother and so I got to copy the same thing but thank God we didn't do it so it was no more bad feelings for anybody.

So it was a difficult time.

Very difficult. Another thing--first thing I arrived--I just arrived on the bus I was standing, I didn't want--there was nowhere to sit and he kept telling me, "Your stockings are crooked, they're not right. So I said, "I can't do anything on the bus." Five minutes later, "Your stockings are still crooked. You shouldn't go out with stockings crooked," you know, things like that. I was eighteen, I had worked in an office for two years. I was independent and now "Your stockings are crooked," in the bus where I can't do anything about it in any case. There you are but this just the welcome--the first welcome. I had to get used to it. It was already worse and worse and worse all the time.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn