Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Dorfman - August 11 & 25, 1989

Relocation to Detroit

Yeah, I know the name.

Yeah, he's CPA. He is uh, his mother and Mala's mother were sisters. He was with Franka in, in, Bergen-Belsen. Young kid, he was like the same thing like my other cousin, he was--they are the same age. But he lived, he lived with us in Germany. So what happened is when I uh, when I was in, you know, in Topeka, Kansas and Larry was getting married, he wrote me that he would like for me to be his interfeerer because he remembered me from Germany and, uh. And I done a quite a few things for them because I, like I say, I worked in the PX. I had, you know, I mean eh, if you wanted food or you wanted uh, clothing or whatever, I had it. You know, so I used to give it to them, what the heck. I mean, when I had money, who cares at that about money. If somebody came, you say, listen, what you got in your pocket, you gave it to him. To help him because one helped another. It's a different life than here, believe me. Complet...we got to be animals over here, okay. I mean it. Money made people animals over here. But over there nobody cared after the war. Whoever done a better job and, and could get themselves gave it to the next. And so I was going around and, and finding better houses and better rooms and, and better cars and better things for all our refugees. That's what we did. We couldn't care for nobody. And uh, so I helped him, so he wanted me to be his interfeerer, you know, like the best man, you know. So me and Mala came down from Topeka, Kansas to his wedding. I don't--no, we drove. I, I had a company, I mean, not a company car, I took a, one of the guys had uh, you know, an old Dodge or whatever. And he says, he says, "Don't worry," he says, "I'll drive." So you know, because who had money to go to fly, you know. The Poses were fine but uh, they were okay, they didn't think about this and I went with uh, to come to the wedding. The wedding, we, listen, I had uh, I went, I had to pick up a tuxedo, you know, like here. So then Larry and Blackie, I mean, the family is, "What the hell do you want to be in Topeka, Kansas?" I started telling them, "I'm tired of Topeka, Kansas." I said, "Those Jews over there do not understand. That's all they talk about is a--, is, is about the Depression. And it, it, that's sickening. That's all they, they talk to you about the Depression, how b..." if we were starting to say, to talk to these guys now--if we start to telling them how bad our lives and how we lived through the war and what was happening, they didn't want to hear. They just turned around right away and talked about, about the Depression. What, so I used to ask, "What was in the Depression? You, you had food didn't you? You had clothing." "Oh yes. Oh, in the war time was better, we didn't have enough meat." So what could you talk to those kind of people? You could see they're empty from the top to the bottom. So really I hated to be there. So he says to me, "Why do you want here. There's Jews here, you want a job, you want to go, you can go in the meat business, you know how to cut meat. I'll get you a job anytime." It's exactly--and her father convinced me more yet, Blackie's father. He says, "I'll give you a job in my restaurant." They had re...they had a restaurant, a couple restaurants. And he says, "Don't, don't worry about it, listen, you, you can do anything." Because I was cooking eh, in the American kitchen, you know, I knew where--So we made up our mind. I, I got back there.

Did he take you to Eastern Market?

Yes. Larry took me to the Eastern Market.

What happened there?

Introduced me, and uh, and the guy, I remember, Moe Schindler, looked at--boning over there, over there, I mean, those guys were boning. And he says to me, "You know something about this?" I, I says, "Give me a knife." So I took the knife and I took a cattle apart and he says, "When do you want a job?" I says, "I got to go back and tell the people that I'm leaving." So he says, "Whenever you come back, you got a job here." So a job over there I got. There was other people ta...start talking to me, because I was here about a week, for about a week. And uh, I got back there. And I got introduced over here. I met, I met a lot of refugees! Over there, there was nobody who to talk to. I met my, I, I, I met over here a lot of my kind of people that, we all, they all got together and Larry took me there and we went and I could see, my God, this is a life. I'm there like in a jail! I go in the morning to work, and I come home at night and we both sit and look at each other. Kids we didn't have. My kids were born here in Detroit. To make the story short I come there and I went to Mr. Poses and said, "I'm sorry Mr. Poses, I am--I met my cousins. And things were--I went to the wedding and I am going to be go." He--"you shouldn't do that. We, we done for you this and we done for you this." And I didn't want to, I didn't want to answer him how much he did. You know, I think that was, "whatever you did uh, I appreciate and this and that. But I want to be with my family." We had nothing in ???. And uh, he understood, whatever he did or not. Oh yeah, "I wanted to make you a manager of a store." I says, "I made up my mind to go." And a week later we left. And Franka and, and Rosa stayed there for another few months in Topeka, Kansas. I left and uh, I went to work in the Eastern Market at this particular time. And like I say, a few months later, about three, four, five months later, Franka and Rosa came too. Because when I moved here I, I, I knew they going to move too. They came--yeah, it was my, a year later ???. Yeah, because my Joel was born in 1950...the end of--the beginning of '52. They came to the bris. Rosa moved before. Rosa came about three, four months later and Franka came probably a year, a year and a half later. Because they come to the bris and I remember Franka come up, she says, "You know, we lived there and we want to come here." I said, "Listen, we go out and we look, maybe" Because I did pretty well already. I says, and uh, "Maybe we'll rent uh, you know, a..." It was duplexes that time mostly, you know. They rented a duplex, Rosa and Franka upstairs, Rosa downstairs--I don't remember if I was--yeah, I think, on Culvert. And they rented and uh, Rosa lived there and then Franka came. And then they bought the same, that place later. And like I say, that's what it was and I start up there a few months late. Not too long, about, I would say about six, seven months later I bought this guy out where I moved from. And there I was down there, 1950. Then later on in '52, when they came here I was already--I looking, my wife was driving me crazy. She says, they weren't good. When Ellen came here Julius was working in the bakery. And the first time he was working the factory, General Motors. But he didn't like the bakery because the bakery, he couldn't sleep. He couldn't sleep in day time, you under...he had to work at night. And they found he couldn't sleep. So he was like--and uh, so Julius, Julius come to work, work for me about a couple days a week. Uh, mostly early, early in the morning uh, say five, six hours. Then they came and then I was looking to find a business that I can take 'em in someplace. Because I had a partner in my business in Eastern Market. He was a Hungarian, nice, nice young man. Passed away a couple years ago. And, like I say, I knew the meat business. I, I knew everything, I knew the customers. I already knew what's going on. I was going on my own. I was doing very well that time. Listen, that time to make five-hundred dollars a week was a lot of money. And that's what I made. Cars, I, I bought, I bought a nice home. And this was--so I took 'em, I took 'em in. And there where the whole thing started. And uh, you know, then when I bought uh, this place and that place and uh, and I 'em a percentage of it, understand. I didn't give him a percentage because they were, because I needed him. [talking to someone else: You want to keep the camera together?] And I kept it for a long time and that's what it is.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn