Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

George Vine - July 5, 1983

Life before the War

Can you tell me what your life was like uh, before the war? What your family was like?

Well uh, prior to the Second World War, I lived in that little town as I mentioned before Ciechanów and with my two brothers and my parents. I was going to public school and enjoyed a fairly comfortable uh, period from prior to uh, 1939. I went to school and uh, probably experienced similar uh, experience as, as a ten year old does in this country. No worries uh, and fairly--regular type of life. I do recall though an incident that occurred about in the middle of 1939. I believe it was May or June when the fever, or the feeling of the war coming on. And I recall the incident when I was coming back from school and we always had to cross the square, town square. And uh, they were showing films in the town square uh, of how strong the Polish army is and how they gonna fight and defend, and not to worry about the Germans. And a tremendous fear sort of uh, came over me. I didn't know what it was because I didn't understand the concept of war. But somehow it--think it was the beginning of something that of course has been with me and will probably be for the rest of my life. But it disappeared, that fear and went back home and went to school and uh, things were pretty much normal going on. Uh, 'til, I think, October, September, October the first, 1939 where suddenly...

Uh, let me say um, I'd like to go back...


Before we go into what happened...


During the war--I'd like to talk more about your life before the war.

Of course.

And uh, talk about um, for example--well go back to the incident that you mentioned. Um, that scared you somewhat, is it, did you have--what was your knowledge of the German people at that time? Did you know about Hitler? What did you think of him? What did your parents tell you about him? Were they politically involved?

Uh, I think it's important to mention that 1938 and 1939 I was only eleven years old, ten, eleven years old. And I don't believe that the political situation uh, really interested me very much in that time. Uh, because we were so occupied between school and play and uh, and fun, as uh, kids do today uh, that uh, uh, we heard rumors that, that things--so war may break out and that uh, there's certain terrible things happening in Germany, like uh, certain rights are being taken away. But it seemed so bizarre and seemed so far away that uh, I don't recall thinking back today that we--this brief moment that I experienced, going back from school, and watching on uh, on that screen in the square uh, tanks that they showed and soldiers and what have you. Uh, I don't believe that I experienced any fear uh, after that and before that. Uh, so I would say to answer your question of how I felt prior before the war. Uh, I think that I lived quite a comfortable, everyday life. Went to school in the morning, came back home, and uh, went out with my friends, I helped out--we had a, a uh, grocery store and uh, sometimes I would help out my parents in the store. But I kept fairly busy and very little was I uh, uh, at least seemed to be concerned with the political situation in the world.

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