Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Life in Sweden

Where did you get it?

Uh, I got from the, from the stores you know, on the black market. I knew 'em. So I used to wrap myself around and come home like this you know, with materials and so. And uh, for bedding material, you know. This was very expensive. ??? So uh, I used to bring and I made so much money. I was holding the money at uh, my husband will come home, he will be proud of me because he always give me ??? and he always give me the money. An...anything he made he give it to me and always ask me how much money I have. When he needed money he come to me to ask me for money. So Martin, when we got married, he too give me the money, all the money. But he didn't make money. So--and we had an apartment which we paid a lot of money. He had to work two weeks for the rent. So--and the guy, he, he was uh, he wasn't giving, giving us heat.

This is in Sweden.

In Sweden. And I was pregnant then with my daughter. And uh, we was freezing. This was the apartment uh, I mean uh, furnished. So uh, one day uh, I already had my daughter and the neighbor walked in and she was an American. And she was a very elegant lady and her husband was a policeman. And she says, "Why you so cold here?" So I say, "He heated it cool and he locked the door. I couldn't go in and put the uh, coal 'til he come home and give us a little heat." So the husband came over, the policeman and he checked. And he says he will do something about it. So first of all he give us a lock and we put it in the lock in the door that he could not come in, in the house. Because uh, uh, I didn't want him come in. He always opened--and when we was home he always went in and uh, was looking. I had uh, clothes in the kitchen and uh, so uh, we locked the door and he could not come in, in his apartment, absolutely. And uh, then the ??? how you say ???. Uh, the--where they complain for the rent. I don't know how they call it here. So they come and measured out the place and we paid two hundred twenty kronas, plus five uh, kronas for the stove. Two hundred twenty-five, uh, we paid uh, rent, so. Martin didn't make so much in two weeks. So they told him all he can have is hundred five. So he wanted us out of there. But we had nowhere to go. So we was there and he had to make ??? the house, absolutely. So and uh, they knocked, knocked it down. So he left open and I told him I will put in the coal. But I will need heat. We have a baby, we have to have heat. So we was there 'til May and in May we told him we are leaving because of America.

May, Nineteen-forty...what?

Forty-seven, forty-seven. But we didn't leave because uh, we didn't get the visa. But we had to leave by him because we give him uh, notice. So uh, we had no where to go so I went to my sister and she got us an apartment. And we had nothing. Only her bed. My bed, baby's bed, that's all. So, but nothing was working. From the factory, the guys he had uh, furniture, like uh, office furniture in a storage and he give us that. And So--and I told you last week that the guy come to uh, to the house, he was uh, uh, Seventh Advent...they kept...

Seventh Day Adventist?

Yeah. So he come uh, asking for money for Israel, you know. He said he's collecting money for Israel. So I told him I'm Jewish and uh, I give my money you know, myself. And uh, I forgot what kind of organization they had that you know, they had, he was giving all the time the money. And we didn't have any. So uh, anyway uh, he walked in and he saw we had no furniture, nothing and he ask us and I say, "We're going to America and we don't wanna buy now, and nothing, because we don't know when we're going." So he went and he measured--he went out and brought a--and measured the windows and everything in the rooms and looked around and the next day came a truck with beautiful furniture. A crystal chandelier. Beautiful! The windows covered, drapes on the windows, everything. And I didn't want to accept it because I told him, "I can't afford to pay you." He says, "When you go to America you call me up and I will come and take it away. I have a store and I want you to have it." So when we was going to America, I called him up and uh, I went over and I said that uh, "We will be leaving soon." And uh, now for sure we got the visa and we going--I don't, it was December, in December. So uh, but we could sell everything with the apartment, because it was very hard to get an apartment. So people paid any price just to get an apartment. So he told me how much and uh, we sold everything and give him the money. And we corresponded with him for years. And then we lost tracks with him.

And when did you finally come to America?

We come in December in '51, you know.

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