Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Weiss - August 9, 1995

Pre-War Life

Could you tell me your name please and where you are from?

My name is Michael Weiss. W.E.I.S.S. I was born in Kascony. Kascony is a small town near Beregszasz.

Tell me something about life in Kascony before the war started.

Well, life in Kascony, till 1939 we were under the Czech Regime. Our President was Masaryk. And then when he died, it was Benes and we couldn't feel any anti-Semitic things coming down from the government. Our neighbors, the Hungarians, they were all the time anti-Semites, but the government itself, the Czech government, we couldn't feel any anti-Semitic, ah, laws coming down from them.

Where there, how many Jews would you say were in the town?

In Kascony there was about a hundred families. So I would say, three hundred, uh, people.

How large was your family?

My family, I was the only one. I am the only child from my family.

Aunts, uncles, grandparents?

Oh, aunts and uncles, I, you know, during the years I think all of us, we got out kind of, and we came out about thirty-four, ah, ah, family members whom I knew.

Do you know how many survived the war?

Ah, ah, I know of two cousins. One lives in Toronto and the other one lives in Florida now.

Tell me something about your parents, about your home.

Well, my parents, my home, we had a hard life. My father was working in the vineyard and I was going to the Yeshiva, to public schools, and on my vacation I was working to help out.

You went to both Yeshiva and public schools?

I went to both. I went in the morning to public school and then in the afternoon, first to cheder and then later I went to the Yeshiva.

So you went to public school where you spoke what language in this school?

Uh, well, it was, ah, I went to Hungarian school.

And then cheder was religious school?

Cheder was Yiddish, only Yiddish spoken, yes.

And the Yeshiva was?

The Yeshiva naturally, the Yeshiva was with uh, uh, black hats, most of them, payes, it was a very religious Yeshiva. Like throughout Carpatha Rus it was religious Yeshivas.

Now, your town was in a very orthodox region?

Very orthodox region, yes, yes, yes. We had a Rabbi. Our town was very small but even today you mention the Kociner rebbe. He was very famous. And there were many Rabbis famous, Munkacs had a very famous Rabbi. Ungvár, Uzhorod had a very famous Rabbi, and many towns, I can name one after the other.

And what was the region like? Was it modern?

Well, well, I would say something like here, really. I never knew how cold its outside or how hot its outside. Never knew how many inches of snow fell or what. It was winter, we went first to Shul to daven then to public school. And after lunch we to the Yeshiva. Because of wet or rain or anything that I wouldn't go today because it's raining or snowing or it's too cold outside. That never happened.

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