Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Dorfman - August 11 & 25, 1989

Relations with non-Jews

When you were in school, do you remember any um, uh anti-Semitic acts from-- discrimination from students, from teachers, apart from this one e...example?

Oh my God. I'll tell it, I mean, one incident what I mean anti, anti-Semitic. We were in the orchard business in summertime. I'll just give you one fact and then I'll get into the others. We were in, in the orchard business in summertime. So we were out in orchards and it happen there was no cars or whatever that you could travel, you understand that, it was horses and buggy or, or on your, on your feet, to walk. And I happened to be in a village about maybe forty, fifty kilometers away. And I had to be Monday morning back in school. Now something happened that our horses and buggies, we sent apples and pears to Warsaw which it was sixty kilometers away. And coming back empty our wheel broke from, from the, from the wagon. And the guy that was supposed to come back, he would have been back about Saturday afternoon or whatever, because they were back Thursday, a couple days and take me home, you understand, to the, uh. He broke down and he couldn't make it. But he come back, I think, Monday and I was Wednesday morning back in school. There was no seat for me no more. The principal called me in, he says, "There's no more school for you because I have no seat for you." Well I start--I says what--I tell him the story and I--and we called even that particular man that was riding the horse and buggy was help, he was a Gentile which he worked for us and uh, and he testified what really happened and so on and so on. No such thing. "You had to be here. You're not here, you haven't got place." Finally I went to the principal, my mother went and things. I had to carry a chair on my back for all winter long. Twenty, thirty- below zero, you understand. I had to carry a chair from home to bring it to the class to sit. There was no place for me. There was place! There was place. They wouldn't give it to me. I had for this--for, for. You know, they crucified me because I was two days late and it was not my--it just happened. Somebody can miss a plane. Who? You can miss a train, anything can happen. You get sick, okay. But here was I, a true thing, and this was one incident what happened to me. Believe me, every, every afternoon when we were, was going out from school, in my class there was about five boys, there was probably, I don't know, at least a hundred and fifty students. It was I remember a half a dozen girls and a half a dozen boys, that's about it what we had. And we had to hold hands together and struggle to go out because they were waiting for us. And there was a fight approximately, approximately every day. They started having the girls or to the boys just fight. But I'll tell you, we, we were pretty brave. Because why? There wasn't anybody staying with a gun. And take, and, and to take care of us by hand or, or, or with any object we had in our hands, we were fighting. We were, we weren't afraid of them. We weren't afraid of them.

Did you ever--you were just a kid then--did you ever wonder why they were doing this to you?

Oh yes, we knew why there were doing this, because--that's a saying, plain blank you heard in the words every time. In Polish the word was, "Jews, get the hell out of here, go to Palestine." And in the words of Polish it was, "Zydide Palestiny." That means for living, which I read and I knew, we lived in Poland for hundreds of years. Back generations, born there, did everything under the sun, we still were not citizens to them. We were no people to them, you understand, to the Poles. In every word they said, like I say, how would you feel--okay, here in America somebody would say, "Go here or go there because you don't belong here." But in my heart I knew I didn't know anything else. I didn't know anything, I, I was never traveled anyplace else, like here. That's all I knew, my little town, my state and a few cities. The only cities that I, that I, that I really knew in Poland. I didn't--I have seen more cities after the war than before the war.

When you were in school, w...was there religious education in some...

Yes, we had, all but this was late. I mean, in the first few years we didn't have, In the sixth and the seventh class, I remember started in our town. There was eh, a teacher, his name was Weinberg. I remember like today, his name was Weinberg. Josef Weinberg. And he came down, you know. And he was teaching us religion.

In the public school.

In the public school.

But what did the...

It was one hour.

...what did the Gentiles do?

No, we were separated.

So, what they...

They, they, they were, I'll tell you, listen, we had to pray every morning. They, they didn't pray our prayers. They--in the morning we had to stand up and, and say their prayers and, and so forth. That's why a lot of the really religious kids did not go to school, for that purpose. Because they had to say all, all the prayers and everything else. You know eh, Jesus and all things. And listen, you didn't feel--I didn't--I just made with my lips because otherwise that's what the problem was, they always--when we were out, outside, we were coming, wherever the talk was that we killed Jesus. And, and, and all kind of eh, for, for Easter we, we take blood from uh, from the kids, blood from kids. We kill kids, we take the blood and we make the matzoh.

The matzoh.

Now I never heard of any kid being killed. I never heard of anybody killing anybody really because--specifically Jews. To kill somebody? You got to be kidding. We were happy that nobody touches us. But to take a child? I mean, did, did anybody have a picture of it or a proof? But this was baked in right through to a kid when they was born, so that's why the hate was. It came that, I remember like today one, one more item. On Monday before Easter, you think that we could stick our head out? They were knocking windows out because this was the day they called it Blue Monday that we, that, that we killed Jesus or whatever and everybody from all the little towns used to come into the, to the bigger city to--I mean to kill the Jews if they would let 'em, you know. But they listen.

So Easter was, was a particularly bad time.

Oh! We were loved, you know, you know, for, I mean, for Christmas. At Christmas they liked us.

What about your father? Did he have, did he have non-Jewish business associates?

Yes. My father had quite a few because you see that business was not allowed. Because we had to deal, you see, the--you take a cattle, the upper part is kosher. They call it the fronts. The hinds, this here, was not, was traif, we could not use it. So we just used half of the cattle and the other half we had to have--my father had to have--we had to have people which they were buying this from us. Kosher meat usually was just about double than the other. So God forbid, if we killed a few cattle and the shochet says that they're traif, you understand, you go out of business. Because, for example, if meat--the fronts were a dollar a pound--just take a number--you know, a dollar a pound, the hinds were fifty cents a pound. So if you lost in a, in a four, five hundred pound cattle, you could lose uh, let's say two hundred and fifty, two hundred and fifty dollars--a hundred and twenty five dollars different, there's no wa...there's no way in the way you could make it. And, and this was, believe me uh, and the Jewish law was very strict. And if the shochet said it's not, that was not kosher un-kosher, you know, so, sometime they ruled--it was in the ruling, let's put it this way. But it was, it was very tough.

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