Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Koby - April 20, 1999

Plans to Leave Europe

Were you at this point, anyone in your family, thinking of making plans to, to get out?

Oh, yes.

You were. You were--and was Palestine...

Oh, yeah.

...was Palestine a, a viability?

No. But--Palestine was not a viability, as yet, because you had to cross borders, okay? You have to go everything out--to get out of the Soviet Union, you understand, you have to be--after--even after the war, wherever the Soviets controlled everything to get out was illegal, on the legal ways.


And Jews you know, were going, leaving Poland as Greeks. Why Greeks? Because ethnic cleansing, the Germans had a lot of Greeks working their factories, right? Or whatever, the industry, running the industry for them. So Greeks could go home--ethnic cleansing. You could go as Italians, you see?


So Jews were you know, they became Greeks. If you wanted to get out in a hurry. The problem is, they, they uh, this illegal immigration was handled by the Haganah, the Jewish agency, oh, some of these--the Israelis, because they were you know, they were looking for uh, bodies. They were looking for people.


Fighters, yes. And here's a--got a whole source. So in order to get out from Poland, everything had to be illegal. But when we were in Rovno, we received a five-dollar bill from America. My, my, my Aunt Blume you know, my father's sister, in order to find out who's there, you send money and you have to sign for it you know, that you received it.


That confirms that somebody is alive.

Where, where did it come from?

From here--from Detroit.

From Detroit, okay.

On Burlingama, not Burlingame, Burlingama, she lived on, because we don't know how to pronounce it.


Burlingame and Burlingama, two different streets. The Soviets made things very difficult. I mean, the propaganda was already in full bloom, the United States was the mortal enemy of the Soviet Union. They were fighting a front to...together, right? And the s... and the uh, Americans already mortal enemies.


They were already mortal enemies before Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

You mean, the Cold War had begun already?

Well, I think it was already in progress a long time.


Mortal enemy. You want to admit that you have friends or relatives in the Soviet--in um, the United States, the mortal enemy? That's a no, no. I have a, a torn-up old letter my father wrote from here to Czechoslovakia to Mr. Szczasny. The letter came back. I always kept it. Dummy me!

It came back?


Was it censored or anything like that or just, just came back here?

I--uh, I don't know. I don't remember why, but a letter came back, okay? We understood right away what was happening, because the Soviets sealed off Czechoslovakia. You know, they were Communists right? Right away from day one. We did not want to cause them difficulties.

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