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Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust Interviews

9. Postwar Life & Immigration

Polish survivor encounters prejudice renting a house

Rosa Katz had endured Nazi persecution, the Lodz Ghetto, and Auschwitz only to face more anti-Semitism in Oshkosh in 1953

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"One incident we had when we were looking for an apartment.

Because we had that house, the first house and we moved in just temporarily, just about three months, we had to move out because the people only sublet us the space just for a couple months, so we had to find something.

And there's an ad we answered, you know, there is an apartment a man wanted to sublet, rent his house actually, I think it was a house. Yeah, it was a house. He was moving to Florida, and he wanted to rent the place.

So, we went over there, with our children — and the boys were little, and he wanted me, because naturally with a empty house, with your furniture, our furniture wasn't here then yet. He wanted to see who are the people, you know, and we had a nice conversation.

It just so happened he come, his parents all came from Switzerland, so there was something in common already, European. And he liked us and he agreed to rent us the house.

It was fine, it was fine with us. It was a nice comfortable house, enough rooms, you know. A nice backyard for the children. And by the time we shook hands and we agreed on the rent, everything was all settled. And we were quite pleased with the whole arrangement.

We were still talking, and we was leaving the house, we were in the door, and he says, 'Boy I am so glad I met you people. I am very, very happy to rent it to you, but let me tell you I am glad I found you because I would never rent it, I would never rent this place to, you know, to Jewish people.'

He didn't realize we were Jews. And we were very desperate to get a place because we had to move out of that house we had.

And I turned to him, and Bernard looked at me and I looked at Bernard, and I really got hot under the collar, but I managed, I learned through all those experiences I had, to control my feelings in a way.

And I told him, I looked at him right straight back, 'You know what? You better look for another tenant because you are not going to rent this to us neither because we are Jews.'

And we left. He was in shock."

Katz Interview, Tape 5, Side 2
Transcript page 102 (PDF, 591 KB)

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