Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mark Webber - December 13, 2004

Returning to Poland

And you went to where in Poland?

Well, we had to train--change trains um, uh, several times, because some of the trains weren't going in the direction that we were going. Uh, I remember we stayed in um, in Gorki, a city there, and we stayed in uh, in, in Kiev, and then we came into Lvov--Lemberg--which used to be Poland, but then of course it became Ukraine. And in Lemberg, we uh, got new tickets to go across the border into Poland and that was--mind you, the war was over already, and it was um, it was already, I think, beginning of 1946, I believe and uh, we came to uh, Lublin. We got off the train there just for a rest, to stretch out, you might say, because our destination was to go to Łódź. Uh, and there we could see, from the native population, that they saw some Jewish people and they said, "There's still so many Jews left?" They, they were shocked. And we started to hear rumors and things that there's nobody left, that there's no point to go back to town--to, to the hometown, because you risk with your own life, from the native population, that will kill you. The anti-Semitism was still so enormous on the part of the Poles, so the Germans were gone but the Polish anti-Semitism prevailed, and it stayed on. So we made it to, to uh, Łódź, and Łódź was just like a beehive there. All kinds of survivors, the Jewish--it was like the center of finding anybody. People at that time were just uh, occupied with reading lists of people. In every station, wherever you stopped, there were lists of people that were looking for people, and they gave their names on it. So you were looking on those lists to find out if you can recognize any relative or any friends, or anybody that you remembered from back home. And in Łódź, there were--the Jewish people was more like, organized, and they were organized mainly under the auspices of the um, Jewish Agency--a division of the Jewish Agency which was in charge of, of bringing over the, the survivors to Palestine or to the shores of the Mediterranean, because they could not buy tickets on uh, ships or uh, planes to go to Palestine. The British did not allow uh, unlimited number of Jews. They had a quota that only--I think it was only 30,000 Jews were allowed to come in uh, in a year. Uh, and but so this was called the illegal immigration--the Aliyah Bet in, in Hebrew, meaning it's the second aliyah, not the original, legitimate way of going to uh, to Palestine. So there were kibbutzim. In other words, the same name of the kibbutzim that were the different Zionist organizations in Palestine, they had 'em organized in Łódź. We joined a certain one uh, called Gordonia. And by that, it doesn't mean that we were going necessarily to work on the fields and uh, actually it was a means, a means of getting the people into one place, that we could--they could uh, tell us about what is going on, what kind of life there is in Palestine. And all the, all the survivors, at that time at least in my uh, uh, mind and observation, was that all of them were uh, determined to go only to Palestine--that they didn't go--I was wrong with this, because later I found out of course that many people that survived didn't want to go to Palestine. They wanted to go to the United States, or some of the other western countries, uh, um, and all that. But the vast majority, all throughout the periods right after the war, their destination was to go to Palestine only, after what they had gone through.

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