Oral History interview session (01hh 41mm 08ss) with Roz Usiskin, conducted by Nolan Reilly, Winnipeg Manitoba, 2018. Interview is indexed and transcribed in full.
Nolan Reilly, the interviewer, outlines the objectives and procedures for the interview with Roseline (Roz) Usiskin. Ms. Usiskin agrees to be recorded. She describes how in 1946 she and her community of friends continued to feel the aftereffects of the war. Learning about the Holocaust, she explains made her grow up faster. She explores how the emerging Cold War significantly effect her life. The UJPO supported the Soviet Union and some of the organization’s members joined the Communist Party of Canada, although she never did. Ms. Usiskin describes detail of a very difficult period for her and her community. Phones were wiretapped, police informants attended their meetings, and some of their events were disrupted. Family discussions especially with her aunt now living in New York became very guarded and circumspect. She declares that the Cold War was a terror for her and others and that she continues to experience the effects of the period. Ms. Usiskin describes beginning of the decline of the UJPO and the Jewish left due to the pressure of the Cold War and the actions of the Soviet Union, including the revelations about Stalin, the invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, its treatment of Jews. The decline of Yiddish is another topic explored by Ms. Usiskin which she experienced within her second generation of Jewish immigrants. This is attributed to living in an English speaking society but also to the emphasis on Hebrew considered the biblical language of Jew with the rise of the new state of Israel.
Ms. Usiskin speaks next about meeting Larry Usiskin, her future husband, through the UJPO. A detailed description of the history of Mr. Usiskin’s extended family is provided. His family in Winnipeg was very poor and much more radicalized that Ms. Usiskin’s family. Their interest in one another focused on a shared interest in books, music, travel, and politics. Both families were happy with the marriage. Mr. Usiskin’s family were progressive and secular (expect for her mother who was somewhat more conservative).