Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Dorfman - August 11 & 25, 1989

Desertion from Red Army

We made up our mind, we, we took our guns with us--I mean pistols--guns and we escaped. We left the tanks, we left about I don't know ten or fifteen things and we escaped and we got our civi...we took off our clo...you know, in civilian clothes. We got Germa...we got civilian clothes. We escaped into the, to the American zone, to Saalendorf. And the next day the paper was full with deserters, you know, because hey, to leave that time fifteen, fifteen or twenty things, that was a big deal for the Russians. They want us back. And believe me when we come in there we had troubles too because they want to send us back. Because they--first thing we had to--we said, "We Jews." They said, "How do we know who, who you are?" You understand. We didn't have any papers or any documents with us, nothing. We, we didn't have anything. They threw evidence away. Some of 'em had, I mean, I didn't have it. So uh, the only thing was what, what start saving us is that we know how to daven. Because they, Jewish officers came in, you know, America, American. I remember chuckling, they, they start interviewing us and believe me, most, most again to say about Americans, they didn't give a shit. They said, "If the Russians want 'em back, send 'em back." But there was a few Jews there, I mean, a couple chaplains, and this and that, and they said they are Jews. They didn't even look if circumcision or not, but if we knew something about Ashkenazi Jews. One-hundred percent knew. All of us knew. We knew what davening means. Everybody, because those, all those boys knew. And so they took us out the same--a day later, because the border was this and that. And they took us out as, as Greeks. Not in one time. Three, four, you know, we went with Greeks, 'cause they transported Greeks out and then the other nationalities away from it, into, into eh, central west Germany. We went to Munich. Which it was from Berlin was quite a few hours drive, you know. They put us in, in trucks, because you couldn't go any other way. By army trucks. It was in uh, we were shaking because we didn't know what's going to happen, who knows. The Russians stopped every truck and, you know. They gave us passport, I mean, passports and papers that we are Greeks. And uh, and we went into west Germany. And there, there again I risked because I went back to Łódź in '46. I was there in '45 and uh, was it '46? No, I, I got back later, because Mala came into L...Mala came into, to uh, to Saalendorf. She knew exactly, my wife, you know, which, which I met in, in Łódź when they took me back. When, when they put me into the army she uh, well she just said she wanted to be. And then she found out in the meantime--I think while in Łódź we found out or we found out in, in Berlin that her sisters are alive, that her, Franka and Rosa are in there in Bergen-Belsen. I know, I, I can't recall exactly. She, she, she would know how they--and she come into Saalendorf in--I went with the group--they took us over and she came later on with a different group. And, and then we went to see Franka and Rosa to ??? and then we got back together.

But you weren't married yet though. Had you already been married?

Who? Yes, yes, I married her.

You were married in Łódź.

I married in Łódź.

I see.

I mar...married. It, it was a, uh, her uncle, he was like a rabbi, a rabbi. He invite ten friends. I mean, he didn't uh, we didn't make big weddings, believe me.

When um, they asked you to daven to see if you were Jewish...


...do you remember what you davened, just read? Woman: No, just, yeah, just...

Ma Tovi O'Hulech Cha, you know, I mean, any, any episode, you know, a little piece of T'hillim, you know, that, that, you know, I mean, anything from the Bible. A broche to make broche was a deterrent you know. Anything what is religious, Jewish, etc.

When you later, even now...

How to write Jewish.

...when you, when you daven, do you ever think of that time?

Listen uh, listen, a lot of times I did. I still do. You remember that uh, how important religious was, it saved my life. Because if I really wouldn't have known, probably I would have been sent back because uh, because what, with, with them over there, I mean, we just--again lucky in every way in our action. There was, there was more luck than brains. But we used our heads, I mean uh, I don't think if, if I would have been gone back alive if they were going to send me back, no way. We all made up our minds that we are not going to go back. Except if they would uh, chain us and who the hell knows, you know. But I don't think--believe me--they, the people what they interviewed us and the Jewish people they saw that we are, that we are not spies or any darn thing under the sun.

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