Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Jack Weinberger - February 6, 1983

Life before German invasion

Before the Germans came in um, what was uh, what was life like in the town? Um, what--you went to school, to public school?


Was it a Czechoslovakian school or Hungarian?

Yeah it was a Czechoslovakian, yeah.

Czechoslovakian, okay. And at home did you speak Hungarian or...

No, no, Yiddish in the family house.

Okay. And then did you go to Cheder?

Cheder? Yes. Uh, we had a big uh, responsibility in the kids over there. So early in the morning we had to get up five o'clock in the morning and go until seven. In Hebrew school then go home and eat and then we go back uh, by eight o'clock in the morning to uh, public school 'til one o'clock. And then they gave us homework in school too. Had to finish the homework and uh, then we had to go back to Hebrew school afternoon. Go 'til uh, nighttime.

Um, how many Jewish families were in your town? About--what would you guess? What percentage of the whole town?

Well, I, I would say around here must have been an average, say around 10,000 people the whole town...


Was uh, you know, compared here the United States it's a small town, but over there it's considered a good sized town. Well we had about I would say a hundred Taliesem, I don't know Taliesim, if you know what Taliesim means. Hundred made families, Jewish families. So every family had a different amount of uh, children, you know.

Do you have any idea how many of those families um, survived the war? How many people got...

Very few, I can count 'em on the fingers.


I know uh, one is in uh, fr... you mean from my home town?


[telephone rings] Hello?

[interruption in interview]

Um, was your family an observant family would you say?

What do you mean by observant?

Uh, religiously?

Oh yes, hundred percent. We were all, well ninety-nine percent in whole small--in all small communities in Europe, mostly were all religious. My father had the beard, he was really, really--he wouldn't even touch uh, if you gave him a million dollars money uh, or something on the Sabbath on a Saturday. Strictly no smoking, no nothing, strictly kosher I would.

Do you remember Friday nights at home?

Oh yes.

Could you...

I have never--that was the most beautiful thing, nothing else more beautiful than that. I mean uh, one thing here they have a get together in the United States when they have uh, mother's day or father's day the whole family sometimes get together. But in Europe they had every Friday night uh, we had a get together. There were candles burning on the table and uh, the singing at the table, you know, even we were not rich, you know, but still the little bit uh, I mean just to see it. It's not like over here, you put everything on the table and everybody helps themselves because over there you never get to help ourselves. Mother had to give everybody the plate whenever, you know, everybody should get the same amount. ???, come here! [yells for dog] Beautiful, beautiful, most beautiful thing. It's hard to describe it, you can't even...

Um, in your, the area that you lived in, was it a mainly Jewish area or were there many Christian families...

Oh there's no such a thing like over here. We had uh, mixed, was ???, we had no problems with the neighbors or, as a matter of fact in our house, in our house, our house like this, this is of course a family house here but in Europe it's also considered as a big house. We had a Czechoslovakian policeman who was living in our house. And there were Catholics and they knew just, and they had two children a boy and a girl, two uh, two children. They spoke Jewish fluently, I mean, I mean fluently just like uh--and they knew every Jewish holiday they used to eat at our house and that's the only thing ??? as Jewish kids. It's just--never had any problems. When they took us away, when they, first they took us to, you see when Hungarians came--took over, when they came in, first think they did, they poisoned him. He was, because he was a Czechoslovakian uh, policeman so they, she got ??? that he was committed, he committed suicide. Which was not, she couldn't do nothing about it. So they gave her a pension cause her husband was a policeman and so she had to keep her mouth shut not to uh, make a noise. But they took us away in the synagogue, women and children uh, well, everybody. And the synagogue was surrounded she was the only one, non-Jewish person from the whole city. That day, she had permission she came in to see us, brought in bread. She was crying like a baby. And I even came over to her. My uh, mother's jewelry, my father's jewelry, my grandmother's jewelry whatever they had uh, uh, just like in every house they have some kind of jewelry like a ring or a gold watch, something like that. The day they took us over my father took it into her and says, "If I ever survive or somebody survives, in case we don't survive it's yours." And when I came home after the war first thing I went to, I mean, I never asked I, I, I didn't even know about it. She gave it back to me. I slept in her house and uh, as a matter of fact last year I was planning to go, I don't know if she's still alive now or not. But last year, but then uh, they moved to Czechoslovakia--last year I was planning to go look 'em up. My wife talked me out of it. I was gonna go over to Poland too to see the Auschwitz. I wanted to take my children to see there and take some pictures. My wife because of a little problem ??? my wife wouldn't let me go.

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