Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Water - 1982

Positive Thinking

Excuse me uh, the Germans had left?

Yeah, the Germans had left.

This is January?

This was January. The war was going on between the Russians...

And the Germans.

And the Germans.

Do you know where this--where exactly where this was?

Yeah, this is uh, uh, Oberschlesien, it was uh, uh, uh, upper Silesia. Belongs now to Poland, I believe. Yeah, belongs now to Poland I believe.

So the Germans had abandoned this...

Abandoned this camp. But listen, there's another tragedy to it. We, we thought they abandoned it. We thought so. So everybody was running to grab food, like bread, or flour, or vegetables. And I didn't. Again I didn't run. Maybe it was my, heh, it was my fate to survive. And the eh, the camp had in each corner a tower with a machine gun. And while the rush was on for the food, they opened up in all directions. And a lot of people got killed just a few days before the liberation. I didn't run. And they're, they're lying on the ground dead, snow was falling down, and we stepped over them like we would step on grass--just lifted our feet and step over them. Was nothing to it. People were dead--they were dead. I wanted to survive. And I always mention it, that maybe by strong will to survive, I survived. Maybe--I don't know. Going back, I guess I was right. Those people who said to themselves, "What's the use?" The minute they said "What's the use?" they were marked to die a few days later. So what happened? Next day, you could see they had--they still had their piece of bread that they gave us. They had their little pouch on the side. A kangaroo has a pouch in the front, and they had a little pouch on the side. Two, three days later, four days later, they were dead. And I said to myself, "I got to make it. I have to survive." In those days, I didn't know that a book would be written in the fifties by Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, about The Power of Positive Thinking but I had it in me. I had--I thought positively. I said to myself, "I've got to make it. I have to survive." And I said it out loud. I didn't just say it to myself, or murmur it to myself. And if somebody were listening to me behind my back, he would've thought that I was going crazy, which some people did. And our family ties are very strong. And the only thing that kept me going is: I have to see my people, my family. I'll survive, and I'll see my family, which unfortunately I did not.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn