Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Weiss - October 7, 1994

Pre-War Life

So there were no Zionists in...

There um...they were anti-Zionist. I have to say that.

But were--were there any Zionists in...

There was, there was very small, very small Zionist movements in whole Carpatha Rus really. Uh, it was very small, very small Zionist movement.

How large was your family?

My family I was the only one boy. And that was very seldom but uh, I didn't have no brothers and sisters.

Aunts and uncles?

Aunts and uncles I had. I had aunts and uncles uh, and uh, really uh, two cousins who survived. One is in, in Toronto and the other is in Florida.

How large would you say the family with cousins, first cousins and aunts and uncles?

First cousins...well, I would say around--between thirty and forty.

And only--and only three...

And only three of us came back.

What did your father do?

My father was a, a working man. He worked in the vineyards. That's what we had our most--that's all what we had in the whole town was vineyards. And uh, uh fields, fields.

So it was agricultural?

Agriculture. Yes, yes.

You had a small house and...


Apartment? What...

Very small house. Rented. Very small house, yes.

And your mother, did she...

My mother was a housewife. And I remember uh, my grandfather and grandmother was old. And they moved in with us.

Your mother's parents?

My, my mother's parents, yes. They moved in with us. And uh, that was quite a job already you know. My grandfather passed away home in 1941 and my bubbe, my bubbe, as long as I can remember, they ask her how old she is. She didn't know how old she is. She didn't know. She said a hundred. And I heard that year after year she's a hundred. She couldn't see well in her eyes. She was blind. And she ended up in Auschwitz. They took her to the ghetto. I was there and this is something I will never forget. I helped her on the wagon, on the uh, uh, railroad on these cattle cars what went into Auschwitz. And I helped her up there and she was crying, she had pain. She was asking for a little water. And uh, she asked me, "Leibela, vi geyn mir?" Where are we going? I didn't know. Nobody know. But word--that was her last words to me. "Where are we going?" And in that cattle car, that was all old people, I knew them all. This was a small town. And if you could picture the picture in that cattle car itself. And this was in Beregszász yet in the ghetto. If you could picture that picture. Children saying goodbye; they didn't know what's happening to their father, to their grandfather. People in pain. And this was in Beregszász yet in the ghetto. That picture nobody could forget. It's impossible. That is with you, and that's only one of the story of the survivors.

Did she make it to Auschwitz?

I don't know. I never seen her after that.

You weren't in the same car...

I wasn't in the same car. And I never--that was the last time I seen her. And uh, I never seen her.

She called you Leibela.

Leibela. Well, you see by us uh, uh, uh, mostly they called people by their Jewish name. Mostly, mostly by their Jewish name. If you went to an office or something, you use your, your uh, uh, uh, uh...

Hungarian name?

Hungarian name.

So Michael is your n...name in...

Well I was Miklós. Uh, I was Miklós. You know everything has kind of story and it's a long story. I came to this country and I went with a friend to get my social security number. He says you have to get your social security number, so I go there and he asks me, "What's my name?" I says Miklós. He's uh, that's uh, so I tell you I will give you a name "Michael." So I go home. I live with my aunt in West--this was in West Virginia. I says I have a new name. "What is it?" I says "Call Mr. Brody. He's gonna tell you; I forgot." The na...it was very hard to remember. You know you come, you didn't speak English, and you "Michael." But everything has a story to it and it's, it's, it's very real. That--that's the big drama.

Your, your um, grandparents and your aunts and your un...uncles. Did, did they all live in, in Kascony?

No. No. I had, I had an uncle lived in Uzhorod, Ungvár. I had an aunt. She lived in Kis-Dobron. That's a very small town.

I don't know that...

I'm sure--I wouldn't...not many people will know. There are people in Detroit who are from Kis-Dobron.

And that--your grandparents? Did they--where did they come from to live with you?

My grandparents comes originally you see what we call from Hungary eh, Máma-halom. That was Hungary all the time. Máma-halom, Hungary was Hungary all the time since whatever. With, with--in other words, it did belong to Austro-Hungary before the first war. But that was--that became--that uh, was left Hungary after the first war. So we, we call that Máma-halom.

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