Oral History

Fred Deutsch describes family's preparations for travel

Fred was born in Czechoslovakia in a town near the Polish border. Fred and his family were forced by the Germans to relocate east to a town bordering Slovakia. At the end of 1942, they escaped from the town and went into hiding. The family hid in bunkers in the forest until the end of the war. They moved every few weeks to avoid detection by the Germans or Slovak authorities. While the family was in hiding, Fred's grandfather made arrangements for Fred to attend school under an assumed name and religion. A year and a half later he returned to the bunker when people began to question his identity. Fred and his family were liberated in May 1945.


Everybody through grapevine started to asking, "Well, what do we take with us?" East, we are going east. Nobody knew just how far, or where to, or at what time of the year will it be. Do we take winter articles? Do we take food with us? What exactly do we take? And there was a grapevine started working. We still didn't know where we go, but everybody was advised to take food. And now with the ration coupons again the question was, well, what food do we take? How much? Uh, after all, the food is of so...so dubious quality it might get spoiled. [Aside: Do you want to take a break? OK.] Uh, I do remember that my mother used to prepare huge cubes of yeast. I, I never dwelt on it, tried to analyze it, why yeast, but maybe it has some unique nutrition...nutritional value. Uh, we used to accumulate cubes with honey. I do remember that we purchased tubes of, of toothpaste and opened the tubes in...in their back and stuffed into the toothpaste gold coins which we still had because nobody surrendered everything. So, in that way, we started preparing for a journey which we didn't know when it will take place or where to.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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