Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Dorfman - August 11 & 25, 1989

Immigration to United States

What made you decide to go--to come to the United States rather than to go to Israel?

I had an uncle. My uncle left for Israel in 1948. He lived with us in, in Germany. He lived in uh, in Lampertheim. He was teaching up north because he, he was a, a carpenter and he was teaching old school carpentry to the, to the kids who wanted to go. And I prepared, he knew that, when he left I gave it to him some stuff to take it with him, this and that, because I was, my mind was not to go no place, just to Israel. When he got to Israel, he lived there, he lived there about a year, in about '49 he wrote me. He wrote letters back and forth. Telephones that wasn't easy to, to, to go by. So he, he, he wrote me a letter, he says, "Henry, let me tell you," because--he had a rough time. There was the war in 1948 in Israel. He says, "Henry, it's so rough over here. "We went through so much. Okay, I'm here, I don't know, I'm a lot older. You are the half age that I am," he says. "Let me tell you something, don't come here. If you have a chance, you're working with the government," he says. "You know a lot of people and for you, you can go anyplace in the world. You always have time to come to Israel," he says. "You paid your price. You're not such a patriot, really." And he convinced me to--because I had a big chance to go to America because, like I say, I worked for the government and they really liked me. They always used to say to me, "Henry, people like you we need in America." And, and I had no problems getting papers. I, I even uh, I even could have gone in '48 to America if I wanted to. But I prolonged it a little bit because I like it what I was doing, you know, with the, with the American, with the uh, kitchens uh, with, with the PX, you know. So I signed and then I went, then we all went, you know.

Did you have a sponsor in the United States?

Yes. I didn't even know what a sponsor is until I got, until I got to New York. I didn't understand where I'm going to go. I come to New York and we come off the boat and they took us in, they said, "Your sponsor is in Topeka, Kansas." I says, "Topeka, Kansas, where is this?" I didn't even know where the hell this is. They just--make the story short--they put us on the Santa Fe train and I went to Topeka, Kansas and the name was Poses. Abe Poses. The Volume Shoe Company. You probably saw Payless Shoes...


That's them. They just sold out about, I don't know, eight, nine years ago to the May Company for a lot of money.

You were with, with Mala and uh, Franka and Rosa and their husbands? Were all of you together when you came to Topeka?

No, no.

Just you and Mala?

Just me and Mala. They--I didn't have no kids, they had already kids. Franka went to Topeka, Ka...to uh, Tulsa, Oklahoma. That were her first stop. Rosa went--Julius had an uncle. He didn't have a sponsor, his uncle was the sponsor, because I didn't have nobody here. So did Franka. He went to uh, to Connecticut someplace to an uncle. And I was in Topeka, Kansas. All a sudden they all, they all want to come. I says, "What do you want to come to Topeka, Kansas. I'm not going to be there too long because I don't see anything over here." Make the story short, wherever I went they always did anyway, so. I was the youngest, but they were all looking for me, so. They came all to Topeka, Kansas. I was--I went straight to the Poses's, he went and he got 'em jobs and everything else and Julius went to the bakery. Ellen come to work with me in the warehouse, in the warehouse in the shipping, you know. And I asked them, I says, "Why the heck did you come here?" You know? Alright, listen, we wanted to be together. Let's put it this way.

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