Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis
This survivor from Lodz. Poland, spent five years being shunted from one slave-labor camp to another. He escaped and fought with the partisans. His parents were killed at Treblinka. At the end of the war he was seventeen; the Quakers arranged his journey to the US. He now lives in Boston, and is a psychologist, married, with two children. He is an administrator of Student Affairs at Northeastern University.
I'm always looking for things, always have an iron on the fire; I always have something going. At the moment I'm the administrator of community and student affairs at Northeastern. I also supervise counseling services and work as a community affairs liaison. I go to meetings, learn what happens in communities on a daily basis. I find out what happens with schools, with integration. We have about two hundred and seventy people spread out throughout the city doing exactly what I'm doing.
We work with delinquents and predelinquents, to help with employment, occupational information, recreational activities. We introduce kids to what is going on outside their poor neighborhoods, and I've been able to place many kids in colleges who never would have known by themselves where to go and how to get there.
My latest effort was to get my license as a psychologist from the state of Massachusetts. When I was in college I felt like I was digging for gold when I was reading a book, that adding to my knowledge was like accumulating bags of gold. In those twelve summers that I worked in the gas station at Hyannis I would read between customers. I devoured the great Russian, American and French novels. And I still have this passion for learning new things.
I am an individual who does things spontaneously. I don't meditate. If there is a problem I sit down with my wife and we discuss it and figure out what to do. But mostly I learn and function by ear. Something happens. Action is required. I act, I make mistakes. I learn from my mistakes.
I remember when I was a frightened kid in Germany. I had tuberculosis and I knew they'd never let me come to the United States if I wasn't healthy. So at the moment I was supposed to go behind the X-ray machine I pulled over this healthy guy and they took his chest X-ray under my name. I had already been in a sanatorium to be treated, but this was Germany and I was always afraid to take the medicine. I had the feeling they wanted, to kill me and it was poison, so I was determined to get out of there.
Every year on the tenth of April my old friend Mike who came with me calls me from wherever he is. He called this year from Mexico, where he works for some company. I pick up the phone and I hear, "We're here now twenty-seven years. Just don't forget it!"
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