Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982

Immigration to America

When did you come to the United States?

I arrived to the United States in May 1944, or '45. I'm sorry! '49, '49, May 1949. I'll never forget the ship, S.S. General Black, May 1949.

Did you come straight to Detroit? You came...

No, I did not come straight to Detroit. I arrived to New York and uh, uh, I was uh, greeted by a lovely lady from uh, the Jew...Jewish organization. I don't recall which one. But uh, she uh, uh, put, took me in a cab, she gave me sort of a sightseeing trip of New York, through the train station and then they sent me to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I wanted to stay in New York, but she said that there was too many refugees already in New York and we have to spread 'em all over the country and I was assigned to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Did you, did you have any relatives in the United States?

No, no. I had no relatives that I know of, no.

How long were you in Minneapolis?

Minneapolis, approximately a year.

And then?

Then, since I had no relatives in Minneapolis uh, some of my close friends uh, from the DP camps in Germany and uh, one of them in particular who was with me in the concentration camp, he was in Detroit. And we corresponded ever since I left Germany. And uh, when I knew that I had about three, four friends that I knew from Germany in Detroit and I had nobody there, I packed my suitcase and I flew to Detroit. I believe um, uh, in the end of '50, 1950, or the beginning of 1951.

Did you become a citizen?

Oh yes. Yeah. After five years that I came here I became a citizen.

So in 1954?

And...that's right, yeah.

And what kind of work did you do in Detroit?

Well, in, in uh, in Minneapolis I had a number of jobs. I worked in a factory, I uh tried to be a watchmaker and uh, and that didn't work out. I came to Detroit, I wanted to learn a trade and I went to the employment office, I told them--I, I heard that the machine industry was a good industry, you know, so I wanted to be a machinist and a tool, toolmaker and they sent me to a factory, at first manufacturing company on Livernois, that was my first job in Detroit.

Did you get married?

Yes, I got married in uh, 1953, March the twenty-eighth.

And uh, and you had children?

I have three beautiful sons, twenty-eight year-old son, twenty-five and one little one who will be thirteen in July.

Do they, are they married?

No, unfortunately not. It's my hope and dream that I'll live long enough to have some grandchildren.

Um, and, and they have gone to school and...

Oh yes. Both of uh, my sons uh, have graduated. My oldest son graduated at Michigan State and he uh, got a construction degree and works for a construction company and my second son went to the University of Michigan first, then Wayne University Law School and he's a lawyer.

Do they live in Detroit?

They live in Royal Oak.

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