Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Muschkies Webber - February 2, 1987

Reflections on Experience

Have you thought about why you were among those few children to survive? Why you didn't leave the barracks that day? Those who did were all killed.

I think it's a matter of fate. I guess I was at the right place at the right time. I didn't make decisions because I had facts that I could base them on. I made them out of a whim, out of a feeling that I should be somewhere at a certain time caused a lot of problems for my mother because of it, but it made us survive. I really don't know why.

What are those events that you told me about or others? You said someone asked you something or makes you think of or takes you back something that you do during the course of the day? What in particular still haunts you, anything?

Almost anything can set me off. I can walk, as I said, at night in the forest we will be sometimes vacationing and I'll walk out and I'll see lights in the distance and I feel like I am in the forest with my mother and I see the uh, the houses of the peasants of the farmers that betrayed me or wouldn't give me the glass of water and that fear that I had at the time overcomes me. Um, anything, I will see a piece of bread on the ground, and it makes me think of the times when I would have fought over it, to have it. I mean there is anything, anything can set me off at any time. And I don't mind it to think about the incident, I just feel so helpless when almost the feeling I that had then overcomes me. That's what maybe moves me a little...I think that after the war, or should I say during those ten days that we were alone, I had such terrible, terrible hatred toward all these people that had done everything to me and the things that I was going to do to them. When I think of it, it's just worse than what they have done to us and then I thought to myself, I'm alive. That's when after the Russians came in and my mother wasn't there, my father wasn't there, we were amongst strangers and I said to myself, I'm alive and I can think. In other words, I am the winner. I won. What I went through, and I'm able to, I think what is very important to me is to be able to feel joy and sorrow; I wouldn't want to lose that. Because I think that this is what I did during these years. I wasn't allowed to feel. I was just allowed to think. The only time I felt was when I was living in those fantasies, then I felt good things to push me across, to pass the day or the time. That's very precious to me. I don't want to lose that. And when I start feeling this fear, and I'm afraid if I shut it out all together that I would not be able to enjoy the joy and the unpleasantness about other people to be able to feel with them. But I consider myself extremely, extremely lucky because I live. And I resent the fact when people feel sorry for me because, although I suffered all these years, I survived. I think that all these people that have suffered the way I did or maybe worse, and probably a lot worse some of them, and they did not survive. Not only did they not survive, but none of the families to even mention their name. It's just like they weren't, they didn't exist. I mean that's the terrible thing. I think that is why I, myself, decided that maybe that's why I was spared. To continue this link. To maybe, the time has come where I can juggle the two, feel what I felt at that time, re-feel it and continue with a normal life...I don't know.

Your three children.

Oh, I have three lovely children. And I have a son-in-law too.

What are their names?

My oldest is Shelly and then Elaine and Susan. Three girls.

And you have talked to them about it.

Um, I have not sat down with them and talked as I have with you. We had always geared certain books to them to read and if they had any questions, I told them they should feel free to come and ask me. I am open to answer questions, but I have difficulty to sit down and to arrange my thoughts and to talk about it. Exactly as it happened. I can't do that. It's too painful because it takes me too long to look back and I feel like I have to live it through again and I, at this point, I just don't seem to be able to do it.

Do you feel like you are getting stronger into the future?

Myself, I at this point, I certainly do. I have a wonderful life and I'm very thankful for it. I hope that things will continue and that I will be able to share with my children all their future and continue the link. I think that my children know enough of the Holocaust, there is never enough, but they know a lot about it that they would pass it on, and hopefully wouldn't allow a thing like this to happen again.

Thank you.

Thank you.

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