Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mark Webber - December 13, 2004

End of War

And um, and sure enough, the end of the war came. We had heard about this here, but we were waiting, and nothing was happening. There was no authorities coming and telling us, "Hey, you can go. You go--you're free to go." There was even some contact with some Polish authorities, and they were not--so because we had money--so we figured it's no use our risking uh, that maybe they will let us go and maybe not, so we went and we made some fictitious uh, documents out in Tashkent, and that enabled us to obtain tickets for the trains to go back towards Poland. And there was several other families--smaller families than ours--friends of ours--that wanted to be on that same bandwagon, and they had some money, so my brother went and arranged all this for them and for us, and he brought the documents back to Mirzachul where we lived, and we packed up all our belongings, and all our money that we had, and we sent my sister uh, the one that's in Israel uh, to Tashkent, and she stayed there with some very close Russian Jewish friends that we had. And she was waiting there for us to come on the designated day that she had the tickets for, and we would board a train in Tashkent to go towards Poland. When we were waiting--we tried to find a truck on the road--to stop a truck that would take all our families uh, on the truck for Tashkent, we were--somebody must have informed the police that we were escaping and going away so we were arrested while we were waiting on the road, my father and my brother and I and some other men. And they had to--they first had to take us to where the family was gathered up in one of the homes, and they invited, they invited--they arrested everybody to go on a truck. And while on the way to the police station, I jumped off the truck and uh, I went to these friends of ours who were well-situated politically and uh, told them about what happened. They knew that we were going away; we said good-bye to them, and all this. And I also went over to our uh, landlady, the one that we rented our house there, and she was a Gentile Russian, and I told her about it. So she went with me towards the police station, and through a window there, we were able to take out all the luggage that these people that were in the police station there. They were kept in the police station there day and night, it wasn't in a jail, just in the police station uh, and we--so they were left without any luggage in there, but they didn't have any documents. Our documents, we didn't have because we had sent them with my sister to Tashkent so--but still because we were caught with them, and actually we were informed uh, they informed on us. So they wanted--they were digging and they wanted to find something here. Uh, my father made a promise to the rest of the families that once we were liberated, whatever the cost of it--of buying over--up the, the uh, managers--the police, and all that--that we would pay a half for the whole group. So my brother was the negotiator. They let the people out of the police station but without any documents, so you couldn't run away, and um, we went to try to have our friends, the Russians, to be our mediators with the hierarchy in the police department. Finally the chief of the police was away hunting, and he came back; in the meantime, the time was going by, we didn't have any money, so I had to go to Tashkent. There was no communication of telephones and all this here; my sister didn't know what was going on. We should have been there, and we hadn't been there and I needed to bring some money, and that's what I did. I went on the trains to Tashkent, and I brought some money and um, uh, my sister had to go and extend the uh, tickets, because they were expiring. And um, finally we negotiated a deal and um, it was paid an awful lot of money, I don't remember, 30,000 rubles, or 40,000 rubles. And anyway, we needed to have a half of it. And these people, while these negotiations were going on, these friends of ours were suspicious that we may be selling them down and only negotiate for ourselves, not for them so they stayed overnight, outside of our house--staying guard over us so we did not run out on them. That's what friends do? Normally they don't do these kind of things, but under the circumstances, you can understand this. So um, finally my brother got all the papers from the police back and gave it to all these people. We were very disenchanted with them. Of course, my mother was very upset that they didn't trust us, and all this. And we were instructed by the police that we must leave that night--my family, that is--and that's what we did. We rented a truck like this here. We stopped them on the road, and we boarded them and we went to Tashkent and then we got on the train for Poland.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn