Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

George Vine - July 5, 1983

Transported to Auschwitz with his Father

Not until then?

I don't think not till then, because he made a statement to me on that train to Auschwitz, which indirectly saved my life. He told me--and that was on the train where we traveled for two, three days without food, and of course we were told we were going to a settlement place to work. And everybody was happy that finally we gonna have food and work. And he said, son...

[interruption in interview]

He had to say to you...

And I think...

On the train?

that he had a feeling, that it's more than just a work camp. I think that he had a feeling that, that this is the end. Of course he wouldn't tell me that. But he just said that you are young and you are strong and you will live, and you must live because one day the world may not believe what happened to us and you must live to be a witness and how important that statement was to me in so many different ways during my lifetime from then 'til today. How these--a single statement has made such a big change in my life. I think the most important thing happened was in 1942 and I was in Auschwitz. Now this is an incident of course, that's very clear in my mind because from October that we hit Auschwitz and that was 1942. We, we, we were almost chartered members of this place. It was the first Jewish people coming to Auschwitz in 1942. We hit a camp that was not equipped to bring in so many people. There was a time when they couldn't kill 'em fast enough by gas chambers and, and, and, you know. So they used every type of killing methods possible to kill as many as they could. Which was beatings and hangings, and what have you. And it was on Christmas Eve and I heard in the background the Germans singing "Heilige Nacht," "Holy Night," the irony of it--holy night. And I know that I have to die that night. I hadn't eaten for who knows how long? And we used to--it was a very cold winter, 1942, terribly cold. And we used to take us out uh, to pick big stones from one place to another and I think that we had no underwear and I think we wore uh, what are those wooden shoes uh, without socks, without underwear. Just a little uh, sport jacket and pants and it was horribly cold. And finally that we made it back into camp and I had a portion of soup that was like water. And I lay down in bed and I, and I knew that I was going to die that night from starvation. I just, I just--maybe it was a combination of the hunger and the cold and the, and the, and the--mind you I was fifteen years old at the time and I was in from being in a close knit family and pampered and what have you all of a sudden uh, being alone without anybody under these terrible circumstances. And all of a sudden, my father's words came back to me that he told me three months before when we were coming to Auschwitz, "You must live." And I think I survived that night because of that, "You must live." That was one situation that, that was a very important factor. And another uh, uh, event that took place not too long ago, only several months ago. A friend of mine called me up one evening and he said that the B'nai B'rith and uh, and the Sharit haPlatah were having a meeting and I would like you to go with me. And I said okay they were friends of mine. And we went over and I think it was a meeting in regard to um, ask for speakers for the various different high schools and what have you. And uh, the reason why I did come I think was also because as we have uh, seen in the past number of years about this professor, were the hopes that it would never happen. And I felt, and this friend of mine told me, he says, "George, if you are not going to get involved, who will? I mean, you are the one uh, you know, you guys are gonna die and this is the end. And, and, and people will just say it never happened." So I think uh, that word my father says, that people will never believe, and imagine the foresight to in that time in 1942 there would come a day where people would say it never happened. So I think that I started all of a sudden to get involved is not quite what I'm doing. I think is, is talking about it. Uh, I have three children, very close knit family, very fortunate man, marvelous life. And uh, we feel very close. And through the years as they grew up we would sit at the table and they would ask me a question. And I would try to tell 'em something. And there was a look on their faces and I had a feeling like I'm turning them off and I would cut it immediately. Many, many, years later I found out they were afraid to ask me questions. That they wanted badly to know what happened to me, but they were just afraid that they were gonna hurt my feelings. And I found it very difficult uh, to remember uh, it is important that I express to you uh, my feelings about this. Now with me it wasn't--I hear a lot of people that say they cannot talk about it because they hurt and it brings back bad memories, and they cannot talk about that. I--it did not happen with me in that case. I just cannot talk about simply because I don't remember. Okay, I'm telling you little stories uh, as, as it comes from my mind but I really don't have this, this, this feeling where I hurt because I don't think it's me. I really sit here and try to tell you about my experiences, you know? And I almost feel like I am a fraud because I don't feel uh, hurt except at times uh, I do have uh, you see we all experience I think our past in different ways. Therefore, it's important that everyone has to tell it the way they feel. Uh, with me, I think it is the nights. I think that what's happened to me practically every night is uh, my subconscious relives the past and I combine it with today's problems. So some of these dreams are so bizarre that, that uh, it doesn't make sense but nevertheless uh, I wake every morning, every morning terribly tired. I probably uh, uh, have nightmares all my adult life 'til this very day. And I don't know what it is.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn