Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Dorfman - August 11 & 25, 1989

Topeka, Kansas

Tell me the story. You said you got off, you went--you told me that you got off the train in Topeka...


...and somebody had come to meet you.

This is an experience. The Pos...Abe Poses was not--was on vacation where we came in. And they were over there from the Jewish community came. A lawyer, I remember. And they came, they, they were on, I think--I know, I know 'em today, I mean, all of them, because I was very much--and they--and we come off the train. Were two couples come to pick us up. And they walked by, they were looking. I recognized them, they don't recognize me because we were just as well dressed probably as they are, you know. I had beautiful luggage uh, you know, because we tried to upgrade our life. I don't know what, in their minds were, like, you think of Topeka, Kansas, all the Jews there mostly were Russian, from Russia, which they came, I don't know, fifty years ago. And they probably described, you're going to see some refugees coming down here probably, bent down, probably with uh, with, with, with uh, walking, pan...[laughs]

Pots and pans.

...pots and pans. Here they see--so finally, I says uh, I turn around and I see they walking by and they looking. I says, "Hello, who do you--we are the Dorfmans." "What?" Believe me, honestly, I'll tell you the truth. I looked at them, they were just like mad at us. What do you mean you are refugees? They didn't say that, but I could see it in their faces. I said, you know, okay, fine, you know. Believe me, the understanding of the treatment from those people was nil. I do not think that they understood. I don't think if they understand life today, I'll tell you. They were wealthy probably brought up and I don't know who the heck was what. They had big homes, beautiful homes, this. But understanding from life? Oh, heck no. Can you believe? They took us to the hotel, okay. Find a hotel was not bad. All of the sudden, the hotel probably they looked after a week it was too expensive for 'em, you understand. Because Poses was away and he wasn't, uh. They took us and put us in, in a room in the other, there was a bakery and the other were baking bread, and this was a little room. To me that room--I'll tell you like my wife says, she says even when I was in camp, she says, my quarters were better than this what I have here. She got sick because from the heat from the wall, you know they were baking all night. We had to open the door because there were, this room was so hot that we had to open the door and outside was probably thirty, I mean, I don't know, ten or fifteen below zero because it was in winter time. But I got news for you. I, I was there one day-- oh, I think a couple days--and then I asked, you know, they didn't even come. Okay, one come and I said, "Listen, you think that I'm going to live over here. What kind of people are you? Who do you think we are?" I says, "You worse," I told them, plain blank, "you just like, you're worse than the Germans, I mean, the Nazis! For me to live here in this room? Do I look like I could live here?" Finally, I mean, I remember they brought a, eh, Poses's um, brother-in-law came down, he spoke nice Jewish and he came from uh, from Argentina to work but, I mean, he lived in Argentina. He escaped in 1938, he ran away to Argentina. He came here and he says, "Henry, you come with me right now." And I told him, I said, "You don't worry about nothing, I want to just go out and rent myself an apartment." And that's what I did. I went out, I rented a nice apartment. And he says, "Henry, I'll take care of everything. We, we don't know what the apartment, I'll take care of everything." He went to a goy, you know, to a Gentile...it was a, a furnished apartment, but there was not a refrigerator or anything. He made sure that the same--because they had refrigerators and he, he went and got a new refrigerator and a new kitchen and everything put into that, to that, to that room. And there where we lived until I left. A couple rooms, a kitchen, and a, and a bedroom.

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