Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Malka Sternberg - January 31, 2008

Life Under German Occupation

Do you remember when the Germans marched in?

Yes, I saw it. I ??? first day when they marched in but after a few days Hitler came and he marched through the town and we lived on the main street and I saw him. My mother put her hand over my eyes I shouldn't see the devil but I saw him. Just to give you a sample of the Czechs how wonderful they were, when the Germans came in, of course, we had Judenraus and I was in a class with--I went, went to school and they came in and said, "Which are the Jewish children? Hands up." And it was just another girl and I and said, "You sit on the back bench and now nobody talks to you." The other girl had no idea she was Jewish, I mean, she knew that she had been Jewish but she didn't know what it meant. I knew at Shabbos I came with a note every Shabbos that I can't write, and for festivals that came I couldn't go to school but she didn't know anything, absolutely nothing and she didn't know what it was that she was Jewish. And the headmaster came in after the Germans went out, said, "From now on, the seat of honor is the back seat, not the front seat," because we had to sit in the back--the Jewish children. That shows you what the Czechs were like. The most wonderful people...

Do you remember Masaryk?

Yes, I saw him. They came to our town together with Beneš. He was already at the candidate and all the children were standing there with flags and greeting him.

Hero--he was a hero.

Yes. There was a story of him that went around among us: on his birthday there was a Jewish fellow, a man with ten children from ??? who had birthday on the same day so he wrote to him and wished him happy birthday and he told him, "It's my birthday, too." And from that day on, on his birthday he got a check every year. ??? which was quite a lot of money then. Every year he got a birthday present. A Jewish man. And of course, there's the story of how he became--how he got along with Judaism. He was a teacher and one day they were out there--they were having out there very--football game or some game of the other and they were in, in the outside in the woods somewhere where this game with two sides--and then he saw that one boy was missing and they went around looking for him. He sees a child is missing--he saw it, Masaryk and he found him saying a prayer. So, he asked him, "What's this?" So, he said, "Yes, they're my afternoon prayers. I say it every day." And then he kept asking more about Judaism and that's how he found out. That was long before he was president.

Have you ever heard of Munkacs?


There are stories about Masaryk walking down the main street of Munkacs with the Munkacser rebbe arm in arm.

I didn't know that.


It's a very nice story.

Yes. Presumably there are pictures of this; I've never seen them...

I've never seen them but I've heard the story before.

...but I've interviewed several people from Munkacs and they were there and they saw, they saw...

Yes, yes.

...this happen.

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