Oral History

Samuel Gruber describes a German girl's reaction to learning that he was Jewish

A Polish soldier, Samuel was wounded in action and taken by Germany as a prisoner of war. As the war continued, he and other Jewish prisoners received increasingly harsh treatment. Among the camps in which he was interned was Lublin-Lipowa, where he was among those forced to build the Majdanek concentration camp. In 1942, he escaped from the Germans, spending the rest of the war as the leader of an armed partisan group.


And I was sitting by the table and there was a young girl, a German girl. And I was talking fluently German. I spoke to her, and she spoke to me and she, I saw she likes me, she talks to me and then she started talking about Jews, that because of the Jews the war broke out, that because of the Jews this this and this. I asked her a plain question: "Did you ever saw a Jew?" She said, "No I never saw." I said, "How you know what it...?" [and she said] "Oh! Hitler said that they are killers they are this they are that. And they have horns," she said. "They have horns. Jews have horns." And I said, "Listen darling, I am a Jew. And I have no horns." She almost died. I couldn't believe it what kind of faces she made then and she...she ran out from the house and she was so excited and saw this. Then she came back and said, "You are lying to me. That's impossible," she said. "You couldn't be it." I was a good-looking young fellow, in a in a uniform and--she couldn't believe it. And that was the...the image of the Jews. It was only...they...they didn't know even who a Jew is. But the image of a Jew was, for them, something that...terrific was with horns or some devil or something. A Jew is...is not a normal person.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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