Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mark Webber - December 13, 2004

Candy Making in Russia

Did you get the name of the vintage, I mean, at least?

Well, there was a lot of wine sold. There was a lot of grapes and all fruit--very good fruit in, in Uzbekistan and there was wine available. And in the bazaar you could get anything, but uh, at, at hefty prices. Um, so then of course, we uh, I, I had skipped uh, the part where we were making candy in Russia. Uh, that was the trade. And we uh, at first we didn't know uh, all the ingredients that we were using in Poland were not available that we knew so we were stuck, and we didn't know--but we knew that somebody was making candy because there was a man standing there with a container, like a jewelry display box, and had all kinds of different candies in there. And he was legitimately standing in the bazaar and selling it. And we only knew that we could buy candy, let's say, in Tashkent, and then bring them over and uh, stay in small little like, coffee jars. My sister Rae and I uh, with a, with a teaspoon, and selling one candy at a time to buyers and that's how we made a living until once the candy got all stuck together, and we couldn't sell it. So we knew, being candy makers, that it had too much acidity and we needed to add some more sugar to it. So we bought some sugar, and we re-melted the candy, and thus we were able to make some candy, and we sold it in no time at all, and we got a good profit on it. So we decided that we have to go and find out how to make candy there, and to go so "legit," in quotation marks. Um, my brother Leo went to Tashkent, and uh, went--spent a few days there, and he made some connections with people, and they told him what he needs to do. So we knew already how to make it, now was the question is how to make it legitimately. So in order to do this here, we had to the Department of Commerce, and to get what they called a ??? which is like a permit um, to um, make candy, and in it you had to specify exactly how many kilograms you're going to make a day, and uh, the cost of it, and how--what it's going to bring you in, and then the profit--ninety percent of it would go to the government, and you would be entitled to keep ten percent. So we knew that we cannot make a living from this. So we knew that we had to go to the top man in the bureau there, and um, we took along a box of candy that we had, and we told him that every month, he'll get a box of candy like this and a thousand rubles, if he will just help us overlook on some of our restrictions, and notify us when we are in danger, if some commissioner is coming down from Tashkent to let us know--to give us a signal. So he said, "Fine." We went and did this uh, with his deputy, and we did the same thing--we gave her like a half--she was a woman um, a half a--a smaller box of candy and 500 rubles a month. So we had this office taken care of and we started into the production. And we found out that we made a lot of money. We, we became capitalists there. We didn't know what to do with that money, so we bought--with some of that money we bought U.S. dollars--paper dollars. Some people were talking that there was gold dollars available; I don't think we managed to get any of that. And we, we, we would take the dollar bills and put 'em into a metal can--we didn't have any glass jars too much so we put 'em into, put 'em into the backyard--buried them in the ground. We would buy expensive clothing, expensive watches, which we did not want to wear because you would tip off authorities. It would become suspicious: how did these Wygodas take uh, they selling four kilograms of candies a day, how can they have all this fancy garments? So we had all this fancy garments laying for this day that will come, hopefully, that we would be freed and be able to take it with us.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn