Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Koby - April 20, 1999

Relocating to Bytom

Tell me how you got to Bytom again.

In uh, must have been '46, because I went for one year I went to the public school, to the Soviet public school, regular school. And the next term, I finished the year something--we finished something in June or July. We had a vacation. September you have to go back to school. There was an announcement all over the place, all former citizens of, of Poland that was folk uh, citizen of Poland before the war...


...if they wish, they can move--migrate to the, the state of Poland, of the present state of Poland, okay? They didn't say present. But you know, because there was a shift in borders, remember?


Now, this I'm putting as an aside, I mean, to consider. This was the beginning of ethnic cleansing. We didn't know about it. I mean, the west didn't know about ethnic cleansing. I mean, that word that--you know, that term, it's a recent invention, isn't it.

Who, who was killing?

No one was killing. You don't have to kill. They told them, if you're a P...Polish citizen. Who could be a Polish citizen before the war? Jews and Polish people, right? So if you--that's you know, a gentle way of--a subtle way of doing ethnic cleansing. You can leave the Ukraine where you were born and if you want to live in Poland before the war--you know, under the--like everybody assumed that's...


...what it's going to be, right?


No one was aware that the Soviets are going to be the bosses there--rule. You can leave there. Ukrainians didn't leave, because Ukraine is their homeland. Why would they want to go to Poland? They want--they were, they were glad to get rid of the Polacks, okay, or the Polish establishment.

But Jews left.

But Jews left. Jews wanted to go--you know, there's a, there's a conflict in my mind. Dr. Burke was uh, when I took history classes on East Europe and East European history with Dr. Burke at Wayne State University.

Uh-huh, hm.

And uh, we discussed this a lot. Did uh, you know, we--the--the--why Jews participated in the Soviet Union during the Communist revolution, why Jews supported the Communist revolution. Because of the promise, everybody equal. Everybody going to have an opportunity, no discrimination, all kinds of promises, right? And Dr. Burke know all this literature where you could read up on the conditions of the Jews of Eastern Europe and especially in Russia.

Before the revolution?

Before the revolution.


So why did the Jews flock to the revolution or whatever they--wherever they went or, or wherever the people went because of this condition. Now, the war ends, right? The Jews--these Jews are coming from, from Siberia, from the Urals, from the ??? from Tashk...


...you know, Uzbekistan--Tashkent.


They don't want to stay in Russia. What's the problem? I mean, if a person says you comes down from outer space and said, "Hey, man, this is your friend, right? The Soviet Union is your friend. How come you want to go to the--Poland before the war where you were discriminated and hounded. You were a third-class citizen. You're not a Christian, you were not accepted, you were discriminated--you want to go back to Poland." It was--now I know what it was. Poland offers a, a place of escape. If you were in Poland and you had to few dollars to make documents, you could leave. From the Soviet Union, you can't leave. They wouldn't let you out, out of the workers paradise, what they called it, right?

And, and nobody...

And that's how we happened to be--they said, "You can move. You can go--we'll supply you with a train." The Russians said that. "We'll supply you with a train. We'll have a date. You bring with you whatever you want."

And did they, did they tell you exactly where you were going, or...

They would say, "You're going to Poland."

So how, how did you come to choose Bytom?

I don't know.

Oh, okay.

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