[Transcript of interview with Stephen Nasser by Barbara Tabach, January 17, 2018]. Nasser, Stephen Interview, 2018 January 17. OH-03380. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Standardized Rights Statement
i AN INTERVIEW WITH STEPHEN NASSER An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers: Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE At the age of thirteen, the incredible life journey of Stephen “Pista” Nasser (b. 1931 - ) is preserved in his heart. His ordeal begins when his family are ripped from their home to be interred in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944. Fifty years later, he sits in his Las Vegas home and reflects on his calling to write and speak about his survival and losses. His ordeal is preserved in his book My Brother’s Voice (2013) and in his follow up stage production Not Now Pista. He is also the author of a companion memoir, Journey to Freedom. Stephen and his wife Francoise are tireless in their travels throughout the United States and the world. At the time of this 2018 oral history interview, Stephen had done over 1092 presentations about his harrowing life story to thousands of people of all ages and denominations. Each presentation fills a spot in his heart as he honors his brother and reminds listeners that such devastating episode in history should not be forgotten, and should never occur again. The timing of this interview also coincided with the premiere of a 20-minute documentary based on his writings and the play production. It was shown at the 2018 Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival. Note: the photo above of Stephen and Francoise Nasser was taken shortly after this interview on their next cruise. (2018) v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Stephen Nasser January 17, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Talks about his Hungarian nickname Pista; short documentary, which will premiere in a few days at the Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival, which is based on his play and memoir about his journey as a Holocaust survivor; documentary produced by Joshua Abbey with the help of Jennifer Reed and Doug Jablin……………………………………..…………………………...…………….1 – 5 Discusses his participation at the local Holocaust Resource Center; the extensive speaking tours that he and his wife Francoise have taken; his personal diary and delay in telling his personal story; details of his and his brother Andris’s experiences in the Muhldorf concentration camp and keeping his journal secret from the Nazis; rewriting his memories at the time of liberation; children concerned with his lost diary………………………………………………………………....6 – 12 Dealing with Holocaust deniers; recent films about Holocaust; personal encounters at presentations……………………………………………………………..………………….13 – 18 Talks about children; marriage to Francoise; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His immigration story, sponsored by the Canadian Jewish Congress; tuberculosis diagnosis; immigration to the United States; decades in California, 1993 move to Las Vegas………..19 – 23 Reflects on having comfort with sharing his Holocaust story with others, including other survivors; details about making the documentary version of Not Now Pista…………………………..23 – 27 Talks about upcoming cruise; that many times while vacationing, he is asked to speak about his life and his memoir My Brother’s Voice. Story of meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation in Dachau in 2015. Retells one of the harrowing episodes of him and Andris surviving the bitter treatment of Nazi soldiers…………………………..28 – 32 vi 1 Today is January 17th, 2018. This is Barbara Tabach and I am sitting with Stephen Nasser in his home here in Las Vegas. Stephen, would you first, please, spell your first and last name for us? First name is Stephen; last name is Nasser. But a lot of people call me by my name Pista; that is kind of a nickname for most Stephens in Hungary being called Pista. You use that name in one of your books, too, right? I used that name in many books, and y interviews, and I have also written a play Not Yet, Pista. It had its world premiere in 2017, April 26, 27 and 28. It was very successful. Also, right now UNLV and the Jewish Film Festival are finishing a documentary, which will be aired this coming Sunday, on January 21 at three p.m. at Adelson Educational Center. Let's start by talking about the film. How did that come about? The documentary? Yes. I never even thought of it even though some people have documentaries. But to me the most important was, my goal in life, I've promised my brother, Andris, who died in my arms in the concentration camp, that upon my survival I am going to speak about my diary the appreciation of freedom and family values whenever I have a chance. How many? One thousand ninety two. That's amazing. Nationally, internationally. When people ask, "Pista, how long are you going to keep on talking?" I said, "I will,keep my promise to my brother; until I meet him again." I feel like I'm just a piece of mosaic among the sea of survivors and I keep spreading the message, freedom, 2 liberty and, also, love of family; that's the most important to me. Since you asked about the production, Joshua Abbey, is the one who thought about making a documentary; he approached me about half a year ago after he had seen my play. He was overwhelmed. He said, "The message should be given and should be preserved for future generations." That's when he proposed to have a documentary. Since then, he worked very hard with the help of Jennifer Reed at the University of Las Vegas. There were many other people involved. I feel like a passenger taken for the ride of my life. I'm confident. I trust their judgement. I supplied them all the necessary information, what we had, and I keep on doing it. Joshua and Doug created a fantastic documentary. It is over a half an hour. So future generations could enjoy the message, what I have been given through My Brother's Voice. Hopefully I've succeeded to salvage the positive from the tragic past, and deliver my message that young people, or even adults, could appreciate the life they live, and not just take it for granted. Because if you lose freedom, we can lose everything, and that is the basic message, which is universal. Absolutely. Just to recap, you were how old when you were put in the concentration camp? I was age thirteen when I wrote my diary. When my brother died, I was devastated. Unfortunately many people went through similar tragedies. I can only talk about myself. I cannot talk about other people experiences. You put these experiences on paper through the books and then you did a play. Yes, I did a play. How did that come about? I had received notification from Germany, Milena Finus and Wolfgang, people who we met in 3 Germany and listened to our speaking engagements. They were familiar with us. They requested; "Pista, is it possible you and your wife fly back to Budapest to the old house where you used to live?" So we agreed. Milena and Wolfgang stayed in the same hotel while we were in Budapest. Francoise and I flew back to the old house. That was September 28, 2012. — Around eleven o'clock, we met a German artist; his name was Gunter Demnig. He's on the website. He created many, Stolpersteins. They're memorial blocks cut into the pavement in front of the house and are embedded there for eternity. So the Finuses, Francoise and I, met him and his coworker in front of the old Nasser house (established in 1872.) even though the house doesn't belong to us any longer, to our surprise, the Hungarian authorities still refer to it The Nasser House, the way it used to be with a marble plaque, just beside the front entrance. We met these German artist and, as it was promised. They cut into the sidewalk by front door of the house, Arpad Street 42, and placed six of these memorial blocks, stolpersteins: one for my father, Dezso; one for my mother, Georgia; one for my aunt, Bozsi; one for my little cousin Peter; one for my brother Andris; and one for me. They're there for eternity. Everyone has a place of birth and a place of death inscribed, except me. I only have a place of birth because. I'm still alive. I'm talking to you. After these stolpersteins were installed, a thought came to me. Wouldn't that be great if I could write a play of everything what happened within our family? It's not just me, the Nasser family. Like I said, we are just one little mosaic of the Holocaust survivors, but I can only talk or write about myself; that's what I know of. So I wrote a play with the help of somebody else, an English teacher. The name of the play Not Yet, Pista. The title is kind of interesting where it came from. When I was liberated in 1945, April the 30th, at Seeshaupt, we were taken from Mühldorf concentration camp through Dachau on 4 that particular train where I was in a coma and apparently Some American soldiers, pulled me out from under sixty-four dead bodies and I woke up in a German hospital in Seeshaupt Germany. American and German doctors, worked hard and saved me. I don't know how many days it took them to get me back to life, but I remember very clearly first when I opened my eyes, I was kind of coming out of hallucination and the nurse and the doctors asked me, "Is your name Pista?" I said, "Yes." Then they said, "You mentioned somebody named Andris. Who is Andris?" I said, "Andris is my brother." "Well, you talk to him in your sleep or in your hallucination. Where is he?" I said, "He's in heaven and I saw him." They said, "You saw Andris in heaven?" I said, "Yes. As a matter of fact, I begged him. I said, 'Andris, it's so beautiful here. I want to stay with you.' And he said in a very strong voice, 'Not yet, Pista.'" And that became the name of my play. In 2015 we got invited to Dachau Germany for the 70th commemoration of our liberation. Francoise and I flew there accompanied by a good friend of ours from Las Vegas Elfie Manning a German, English and French Professor. In Dachau We were greeted by another good friend of ours, Heinz Bickert he lives in Bavaria. Four of us visited many sites and spent a lots of time together. Heinz is the one who translated both of my books to German under the titles “The Stimme meines Bruders” and “Aufbruch in die Freiheit” These books are read in some German Schools. Later on I did meet Dr. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. She read the book and she sent me a beautiful letter complimenting me, appreciating what I do for humanity and to make it available to German school children, so they can learn about the Holocaust. It was very heartwarming. 5 In 2017 the play became a reality. It was presented at Durango High School on, April 26, 27 and 28. We had four performances. I remember Tobias Torres, the director, asked me, "Pista, do you think you are capable of playing yourself as old Pista?" Because they were actors playing as my brother, and playing me as younger Pista. So I said, "Yes, it is." So I was part of the play. Even though I was involved writing the play, it took me about two weeks to remember my lines. But the play became a reality and we did perform to standing ovations. That's where Joshua Abbey saw the play and he said, "Oh my God, it has got to go on." Excellent. Is the documentary of the play or is it more of your biography of your life? It's basically biography of my life, maybe some parts taken from the play. But Joshua said the message got to go to future generations. The documentary captured my message. I can't wait to see it. I think it's really exciting that he was able to put that together. As a matter of fact, this Friday at nine o'clock, Channel 13 is going to interview Joshua, myself, about the documentary, and, also, Henry Kronberg because his documentary is also going to be presented. That's really wonderful that you both have done this. Oh, yes. It is significant for the future, absolutely. What I know for sure and that I can tell you as a fact, nobody can change it. Nobody can take eighty-seven years away from me and I'm still alive. I don't know what the future holds. I don't know what happens in the next second But I'm prepared and I know that eighty-seven years is behind me and I hope some of it can guide the future generations in the right direction. 6 In Las Vegas we have a substantial Holocaust survivor population. There are organizations and there's the Holocaust Resource Center and many others. How do you participate in these other possibilities, I guess? In functions? Yes. Many years ago Henry and Anita Schuster started the Holocaust Survivor Group. Francoise and I were one of the original members. Many times I get calls, requests, to be able to speak. I take that with quite a responsibility. Whenever I can, I do that. So I participate a lot. Also my participation, stretches into Arizona, California, Utah, usually through January all the way through April, sometimes through May, Francoise and I, we keep on traveling. We drive a couple of thousand miles at least and we go to faraway places where schools are inviting me. I do not solicit. How do they hear about you? I guess word of mouth. My books, newspaper articles etc. Usually they ask, "Mr. Nasser, what do you charge?" I said, "I'm sorry, because the subject matter I do not charge. I just do it to keep my promise to my brother, and it is the correct thing to do. However, I do have expenses, traveling. motels etc. Even if you cannot support me, I'll be there anyway. So far I've been speaking 1092 times. Francoise has been with me ever since. She never missed one lecture yet. As a matter of fact, she has one extra lecture besides. I never catch up, because once I was under observation in the hospital and I had a lecture and she volunteered and she did it for me because she had enough experience what I'm talking about. People have been very receptive. Out of a thousand and ninety two lectures, I never had any negative comments. 7 When you go to do a lecture, are they all the same or do you have to modify it depending upon your audience? I modify it according to the audience, and time available. I don't have notes. I don't need it. I have a PowerPoint, which helps to guide me, and I talk about my own my own experience. If they're younger audience, I talk to them that way. If they're older, I modify it. People ask me, "How can you do it?" I said, "I never even thought of it." When I'm up at the podium and I see the people—and just open up my heart. I had up to one thousand three hundred people in the audience. Most of the time several hundred people. I don't even think about it. I just tell our story. But when I take the microphone in my hand, I step out from my inner self into the past and memory is what guides me and I'm telling them what I see, what I feel. That's why I believe I'm able to communicate. I was told the audience actually relive what I'm talking about and they can feel what is going on. What age do you think is okay to start teaching children about the Holocaust? I've had them as young as ten years old. Once I had an audience real young, about, six, seven years old. I looked at them and I thought of the parents, ;oh my God, what's going on?: I got on my knees so I should be at their eye level. They were sitting on blankets. I made friends with them. Instead of lecturing them, I involved them in a story and I told them, "You don't have to worry about your mom and dad they will always be with you, because we live in a free society." So make them feel easier, and then from the warmth of their family circle, they can appreciate what is freedom. So maybe that will plant a seed in their mind how important is freedom and family. I usually don't talk about beatings, many people get beatings. During the war, many things happened to millions of people. But personally when I look back into my past, I try to strain all these memories and information and get the positive out without the negatives and 8 that's what I like to talk about, the positive. What age were you when you started lecturing? My first lecture was in 1997, I was 67. I kept my book and story secret for fifty years, to protect my uncle, from the brutal facts I secreted from him. Back in 1948, about three months after the liberation (According to the American and German doctors, I weighed only seventy two pounds.) They have to rebuild me. It took several months. I've returned to Budapest. I met my uncle who survived. He was in the Russian front fighting with the Hungarian Army as a Jewish a slave laborer. He had yellow arm band on the Hungarian uniform. When he returned, after the war ended, he was informed what happened to the Jewish population in Hungary. When I returned and I met him in the Nasser house. He looked at me and said, “Pista it is so nice to see you, but what happened to my wife and baby—you were together? Weren’t you? I knew. I saw their brutal massacre, both of them in Auschwitz. I made a quick decision, so I lied. "Uncle Charles, I'm sorry, I do not know. We were separated." Then I hid my diary. I didn't want him ever to know, what were the circumstances that his wife and baby died. Uncle Charles lived a long life. He died in 1996. Only afterwards I was willing to publish my diary. I kept it a secret. Some people who knew I had the diary, thought it was foolish – you risked your life at age thirteen. Why didn't you publish it?" I said to them, I cannot let my uncle know. Why should he suffer? It's bad enough to know his family will never return." So that's the reason I purposefully kept my diary a secret. How were you able to write in the diary and keep it through all of that? 9 In the camp? Yes. In the book I explain pretty well and in my lectures I do talk about it because people are very interested. But to start with, I sneaked a pocketknife into the camp. When we were totally naked, in a line waiting for inspection and the showers. I moved the small pocket knife behind me and shoved it up, where the sun does not shine. The Nazis, didn't check me; I was lucky. So I had that little knife. Later on in Muhldorf concentration camp I was able to find some sandstones, marching from the barracks to work. I started to carve the soft stones. I carved one of them, a dog's head, it came out just so-so, nothing special. I carved a horse's head and it came out so beautiful I couldn't believe I had done it. My brother said, "What are you going to do with it?" I said, "That's our meal ticket. I explained to Andris my plan. “When I went into work, Herr (Mr.) Hoffman he was our guard; He was a Wermacht not an SS. He was a pretty strict guy, but not brutal; he never beat us. So I showed him this carving during one lunchtime. Then he said to me, "My God, that is beautiful. Where did you find it?" I was very proud of it, I remember, and I said, "Sir, I didn't find it. I carved it." "You mean, you carved that?" I said, "Yes." Then he was thinking and he asked me, "Do you think you can carve a few more of these things?" I said, "Yes." Then he asked me, "What would you like for it?" I said, "Well, if you could give me a little extra food for my brother and I and a couple of pencils..." His look changed. "Pencils?" I still remember. "What you need pencils for? You think you are back in school? You cannot afford to play with pencil and paper. You have a job you have to work." I said, "Sir, I work, I do my job, but the same way I like to carve like this little 10 statue, I love to draw." Then he changed his attitude. He said, "I tell you what. I give you extra food and two pencils." Now I had my two pencils and I had a little knife I could sharpen. By that time everybody had knives of a sort. WE took our forks or our spoons and we ground it down to knives on Granite rocks so we were able to have a sort of knife. Except the knife, I sneaked in was very intricate. When we went back to the barracks, there were lots of cement paper bags, we salvaged from work. We made jackets, wraps around our feet and such, and with my brother's help I was able to put together a small journal bond with wires. Of course, people ask about, "What is this for? It looks like a journal." So I opened it up and nothing in it. They said, "We know the cement paper. We're gone to do the same as you do. But what you need that for?" I said, "Well, whenever I can get hold of some pencils, I would love to draw." So I had that cement paper journal hidden under the straw Andris and I layed on. Some people had mattresses. When I got my pencils, I took my empty journal, I sat down near the inside barrack door. Andris knew my plan. I tried to figure out how can I write the diary and not to get in to the attention of the Nazis. I drew heads, a round circle, ovals and straight lines, and they were really very bad drawings. People were curious and some lined up and they asked, "Let me see what you're doing." And I said, "Just drawing." They said, "You call this drawing? They're crummy." I said, "Okay, maybe you don't like it, but I like it." I didn't want them to come back to see more and more because it would interfere for me to write the diary. So when people didn't come by, then underneath the drawn pages I started to write the diary word by word, line by line. When I saw somebody coming by, it was simple; I just turned 11 a couple of crummy pictures on top and they never knew I was writing a diary. So that's how I was able to do it. I was very lucky. I was never given in by anyone. The barrack commander who was also a Jewish guy, he was very busy collecting extra food and was very happy he didn't have to go to work. He didn't care too much what was going on. When the war is ending and you're in this healthcare facility, they're trying to save your life all that time, how were you able to keep the journal through all of that? In 1995 got this newspaper article with the liberation picture when Francoise and I flew back to Germany for the 50th. Year of our liberation from the “Death Train”. I cannot be a hundred percent sure how I survived. But that picture is a kind of historical picture. If anybody would have taken a picture of the situation I was in, unconscious, pinned down by many bodies, that would be the exact picture. The diary was underneath me. When the Americans pulled me out, the diary got lost. I remember when I was returning from hallucination and the doctor is questioning me when my brother said, "Not yet, Pista." They questioned me "What are you looking for?" I said, "Where is my diary?" They said, "Your what?" I said, "My diary." They said, "We found nothing." I said, "Oh my God, it must have been left in the boxcar." So the nurses were very nice. It took a while before I was able to write. They gave me pencil and paper. My memory was still very fresh and I rewrote everything. That's good. I'm sure you tell kids or young students about writing. Oh, yes. There's a lesson in that, too, isn't there? Yes. How do you teach them that lesson through that story? What do you leave them with? 12 I have a PowerPoint, but I have the picture of the copy of the diary. As a matter of fact, I can show it to you. That copy was created for me in St. George, Utah in Millcreek High School because I told the students, my original diary was lost at liberation. A few weeks later they surprised me, when I received the cement paper diary which looked very similar to the original they pieced it together. But they wrote letters and pictures in the pages and they said, "Mr. Nasser, you lost your diary. Did it look anything like it?" And it looked almost the same. So they remembered very well what I was talking about and it didn't just fall on empty ears, which pleased me a lot. I've received thousands of letters, have a whole collection of them and we read every one, over twelve thousand. Many of them mentioned the diary; that they would like to write also to make sure their life history is preserved. Many times they mention the love of family. It’s very special to me because when I speak to the students about the love of family, I tell them, I said, "Look at me. Look straight into my eyes. Through my eyes you can see my soul. Do you know what I would give from my life if I could hug my mother, my brother, my father? I would give half my life." I said, "I can't. The Nazis murdered them." I said, "But you, you're still lucky. You have a home to go to. Even if you come from a broken home, you still have shelter over your head or people who care for you." I said, "Try to do something what I'm asking you, show them some love and affection. When you go home appreciate them. Take your arms, throw it around their neck and tell them, "Mom, Dad, whoever, I love you." I said, "Something like that will be a greater present than anything else you can do." Then I go a little further. I said, "If you still have enough courage, throw your arms around once more. And if they're surprised—two hugs in one day, what's happening?—you can tell them, the second hug is for Mr. Nasser because he hasn't got a chance to hug his family." Many times I get a great applause, but many, many letters. I don't know how many, 13 hundreds or maybe thousands. They do mention, "I did go home; I did hug my parents; and, yes, you're right, a warm feeling went through my body after I had done that." Have you ever had to deal with Holocaust deniers? Oh, yes. Can you talk about that a bit? I had four Holocaust deniers I met with. One of them was on a cruise. It happened just outside Reykjavik in Iceland. Occasionally, not every time, but when I go public places, somebody asks, "Are you the one who wrote My Brother's Voice? So it got to the cruise director and the cruise director said, "Mr. Nasser, we didn't know you were here and you could speak, but would you mind being available for half an hour before the big stage show and I would interview you; I ask you questions?" But she was very apprehensive because she didn't know...They have a lot of Germans passengers onboard...how they would take. So I said, "No problem." We were on stage, two arm chairs, and two microphones. My wife, Francoise, she was sitting on the first row with a video camera taking pictures. Towards the end, after a question and answer from the cruise director, she announced to the audience and she said, "It's almost time for the big show. We have time for one question." So this gentleman a few rows behind Francoise is jumping up, "I am Dutch and I didn't come to a cruise to hear about Jews." I had enough back in the 40s as they were marched by the Nazis front of our doors, knocking desperately for help. You should have seen the reaction of my interviewer, the cruise director. She just about froze standing there with the mike. That's what she feared. I remember sitting on the easy chair, and I can see it from the video Francoise took, also. I'm sitting there and just smiling. I said to the guy, "You know, sir, you are entitled to your opinion. This is a free country." And I said, "If you have doubts about the Holocaust that is your 14 problem, not mine. And then I got serious. "But let me tell you that much. I refuse to let my mind go into the gutter where your mind is. And whenever you grow up or you mature, give me a call and then we can talk. God bless, you have a good day." That was the end. I got a standing ovation and after the show people lined up to talk to me. They wanted books. I didn't have books. I'm on a cruise. But anyway, they were able to get it from Amazon, Some placed an order with me, to get a signed copy. After the show people formed a line to talk to me. In the lineup there was this same guy, the one who denied. He said, "Mr. Nasser, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it that way, the way it came out." So I smiled at him again. "Sir, you're entitled to your opinion. I heard you crystal clear. My reply is the same. Whenever you mature and grow up, we can talk. In the meantime, go in peace. Next." And I just ignored him. That's how I treat Holocaust deniers. They cannot get me upset because if they are dumb and angry, it's their problem, not mine. I don't have to live with it. If I let everything affect me, probably I wouldn't live to this age and I refuse to let anybody affect me that way. I take the positive and I just go forward and I dare the whole world to try to change my attitude. Nobody can do it. I do what I think is right and I keep going at it. Good for you. There was that movie just a year or so, Denial, which was about the [Deborah Lipstadt, and based on her book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.] Yes, we've seen that movie. That was very well done. I'm telling you what a hoax; everything had to go through the courts, the judicial systems, unfortunately beating itself in many different places. People lose concentration what is really important or how to throw the monkey wrench into a conversation or a project, and that can spoil everything what we stand for and we cannot 15 allow it. We cannot take it too seriously. We have to cut it off at the roots and keep on going. It seems like every year there are new movies that come out about Holocaust, to work hard to give a different perspective or a creative nuance to it. A couple of years ago what Josh [Abbey] showed at the Jewish Film Festival was the Son of Saul. Did you see that movie? Son of Saul. It won the Best Foreign Film. I was invited to the premier and Josh presented me to the audience, question and answer before and afterwards, also. It was a Hungarian picture, very well done. As a matter of fact, if you have a chance, there's a picture coming out, 1945. It's on the film festival next week or so. Yes, I think it's next Wednesday. I wish I could see it. But what I've seen of some of it, it might be a terrific picture. It's about some Hungarian Jews in a small village, not in Budapest. There were over four hundred thousand Hungarian Jews out of a million, a very big percentage. But anyway, in this village, the apparent story, they were taken away and the villagers, even though they were very friendly with the family, when they were taken away, human greed, they liked everything what they left behind. When one of the survivors came back, how the village treated them and how obsessed they were. How dare you survive and try to take back what used to belong to you? Extraordinary, isn't it? That's what the film is all about. It's on my calendar. I don't think I have a conflict that night. How did all of your life experiences going from that horror to who you are today, what kind of impact on you being Jewish has that had? What do you feel about being Jewish? Let me put it this way. Again, divided we fall; united we stand. When we go into different grades—and I'm not trying to be political or cast any shadow in any way—when we are being 16 divided—I'm Orthodox; I'm Reform; I'm Hasidic; I'm This; I'm That—are you a Jew? Yes. Now, what I say, I was born a Jew; I'm going to die a Jew. That's what I stand for and the rest of it is my own personal privilege. Yes. What are some of the most difficult questions that some of the people ask you? As far as questions are concerned, I answer all of them. I do not want to know the questions ahead of time. I want to give them my honest feeling because usually your gut feeling, what comes out, that is true. When you think about i