Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Monczyk-Laczkowska Ferber - December 7, 1999

Separated from Mother

Yeah, sure.

And they took my passport. They gave it to the authorities--Belgium authorities. And instead, they got me Steiltis De Voyage, which is like uh, stateless. Part, you know, like a re-enter permit in America, Steitles De Voyage because they needed a visa. They were taking me to Switzerland. They wanted--because with all the fights that we had, they wanted to separate us. And I wasn't getting visa to America yet, so the best thing that they could do to separate me from her, to take me to Switzerland. So they, they couldn't get a visa to a Polish communist passport. So they gave the passport away-- which was not right because I had no way to, to go back to Poland now. I was committing a crime. I was giving my doc...like, you take American passport and give it to the, eh, you know, to the Iraq or Iran, you know, government and they did me injustice with it. You understand? But this is the way that they were operating. They did not sit down with me and explain it to me what they go...were going to do. In the name of God, they were grabbing me.

How did you feel about that?

Now, listen. So now [claps hands] They, they gave me the, the Steitles de Voyage. They didn't show me the passport or anything, but my mother came and she seen that the passport is missing. So he, he said, "Well, because we took the passport for a visa to America, because she's going to America to study." And my mother was very much into the education. She was not educated, but she was very much into the education.

She sounds very smart.

Yes. So she says "Okay, okay. If she's going to go." But she had mixed feelings. She thought I would forget about her and, and...Then, then at the airport in Brussels, we said our goodbyes. Again, very smart, the rabbi. The goodbyes lasted--you know how long? Twenty seconds.

Twenty seconds, yeah.

[claps hands] Let's go, let's go, let's go. She start to cry, I started to cry. And, and we were spasmodically crying. Then I left. I left and she stayed in Belgium. Then I'm sitting at the airport and we have hours. We have, like, an hour and a half, we're waiting for the plane. I said to, to Rabbi Hirsch--at that time I spoke a little bit of English already, you know. Uh, because that was September and I came there in July through August. I took Berlitz. I went to Berlitz school in, eh, in Antwerp. And my mother went with me every single day, she was waiting for me outside in the, in the waiting room, because she didn't know where I was going. But I got--it was a wonderful way of learning English. It's, it's uh, Berlitz. It's a wonderful system, I'm sure you know the system, um...

So you could converse with him at least.


Did you argue with him and say, what...

Well, through the wife. I said to the wife, I said, "Why are we waiting here?" Oh, because, still thinking I'm going to America, mind you. Uh, she says, "Well, the plane is late and. But, I said, I said, "Mala," her name was Mala--I look at them, I said, "the plane is not late, what are you talking about? It's not delayed. It doesn't say it's late. Why are..." "Oh we wanted to separate you from your mother because of the crying and..." Ok. Let's stop for a moment. So now I'm waiting at the airport with them and it's time to get to the plane. And uh, we get into the plane, I see, you know uh, after forty-five minutes to an hour, we're landing. We're landing. So I'm sitting with, with, with the, the rebbitsen, you know, Mala. I didn't really know that much meaning of, of rabbi at the time because I was there in Belgium only from July to, to September. And I said to her, "Listen Mala." At this point I'm getting very aggravating. "I am a educated girl and old enough to understand that it takes a little longer to get to New York than forty-five minutes. Where exactly are we going?" So she starts crying, she says, "You don't understand. We went through so much with you, we don't want you to suffer. You, you, you went through hell during the past two weeks. Ever since your mother found the letter and, eh and I want you to know we are arriving in Switzerland. We, we, we're getting into Geneva." I said, "Why?" "Because you did not get a, a visa to America yet. It's impossible to get a visa to America. We have to work on it. We don't have enough time. We had to separate you from your mother." Um, so...

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