Moving to America

Leaving Europe Through Germany

"We were given our papers and basically just told to wait."

"The International Relief Organization -- came into the camp, and they set up an office where the American soldiers and commander of the camp said, “Anybody that wants to go to the United States, sign up.”

My mom went ahead and signed up. She thought they were kidding [that] this was not really happening. We did sign up, and about six/seven months later, we were given our permission slips. We were taken [and did] our medical tests.

On Kol Nidrei Night, in 1949, we were given all of our papers and basically just told to wait. And that they would tell us what the next step was which was going to be transportation to Bremerhaven, Germany to be put on a ship for the United States.

In early October of 1950--that’s how long it took--almost a year, a year after we were given [permission]. We left the camp. And I remember the first time I ever rode in a car. There was a big black car and about four or five families, and we left the camp with whatever suitcases we had. [We were] taken to a train station in Salzburg, Austria, and we got on the train and left Salzburg. It took about a day trip on that train. Going through Germany to Bremerhaven.
This was another memory that I have is looking out the windows and the total, total destruction. There was not a building that was whole.

We were put in a holding camp in Bremerhaven. My mother was put in one barrack [with my sisters], more like a campus is what it looked like. And then my dad and I were in another one, and we were there for about a week and a half. On the sixteenth of November of 1950, we boarded the U.S.S. General Belleau.

Editor's note: The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 authorized admission into the United States for 200,000 refugees from Europe. The law was only in effect between 1948 and 1952."