Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joshua Fishman - July 13, 1982

Being Arrested by the Russians

Well, you were starting to say in the end, you know, they, they, they captured you two or three times, you tried to escape, you gave a false name...

Yeah, yeah, and at the end--yeah, at the end I already passed Moscow, I was already escaping on all sorts of trains and after about 60 kilometers farther the train stopped. I was in a, a car with, with uh, with uh, firewood. The wood is just used for fire.

Mm-hm, you were hiding down in the train?

Yeah, I was in that, in that car. And we stopped middle of the way and it was about three hours doesn't move. So I went to the, to the uh, locomotive. I talked to the mechanic and I asked him what happened. I told them I'm uh, I am one that uh, watching the, the cars. They didn't know from another, you know. He said, "The, the machine is--the locomotive is out of order. We're waiting for another locomotive. When will it come? I don't know." In Russia everything could happen--they could stand there for days, weeks maybe until someone um, so I told the--then it was cold, winter time. My, my, my feet were starting to freeze and uh, it's hard to tell you everything, I had--while escaping I had my feet frozen once and I went to the hospital. It's, it's all--this is, this is something particular that is not so important. I was afraid I was going to freeze my feet again so I walked to the--with the tracks to the railroad station. Of course, my eyesight was not so good at that time. I didn't see that I'm approaching a bridge--a railroad bridge. I didn't know there was a river down there, bridge over it. And uh, before I saw the bridge I knew that the guard could have seen me already. At the bridge was always guards, there's still a war on. Uh, so I went--he said uh, he told me to stop and asked me for the documents and I told him I didn't have any because on the way on one of the, one of, one of the passenger trains and my documents were taken away. Anyway, with these documents I would be arrested anyway, it was a false labor documents. And they took me--I was arrested. And they didn't believe--right away I told them the same story that I am the one who escaped--when I escaped, I mean, the one--the Ukrainian who was released by the government--by the Russian government--they let him go home because of his illness. He was uh, only when, when somebody was near dead did they wanna send--let him home. So by that--didn't work at that time because it was near Moscow, without documents, I was transported to KGB, as it's known now. It was NKGB. And they investigated me. They--then they found out from me already the truth why I was escaping. I told them already that I was escaping but they didn't believe me. They accused me of being some kind of sabotagenik--a spy. Found me near a bridge, they were able to. But uh, I, I suffered there in jail again but in jail the food--didn't have much worse--it maybe even better than the slave, slave labor. And then they sent me to labor camp at some--for the, you know, as a prisoner and I worked there but um, I was always ready to escape. It's from experience, you know, from all the lessons I had before. I would, would be always ready to escape. Even before they took me--brought me to KGB I was ready to jump off the train and then I heard the train star...I couldn't jump when it was full speed. When I heard the train started to stop, I mean, it was going slower, I was ready to jump. I was already on my fingertips. So that guard who was--he fell asleep at that time but somebody must've waken him up. He grabbed me by my collar and he said to me, "You so-and-so, you wanted to escape. You know what could have happened to me?" He would've been arrested. I uh, I feel, I feel, I feel he too but I meant my favor first. So he took me back and he took me to the KGB. Now, when I was investigated by the KGB this um, investigators--the prosecutors, they call them, they uh, I was--I told, I told them the truth but then I talked to another one and another one. I told everybody the same story. The sent home to Dombrowitza ??? to send--to ask Dombrowitza people--lots of Jewish people who know me about me for reference, if I'm telling the truth. And uh, the last prosecutor happened to be Jewish. He was from city called ??? a small town, near--not far from Minsk, Minsk ???. Uh, he, of course, he was KGB and he had to--he was with them but still he had a lot of sympathy with me. He told me, "I can see the story that you're telling, it might be true. If it is true, excuse me, if it is true they're going to sue you for desertion and give you five years jail. But don't worry, the war is almost at the end and there's going to be an amnesty for deserters." That's what happened. If he wouldn't have tell me that I would've tried to escape from jail too. I would tried to escape from the, from the...

Wife: ???

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