Oral History

Lucille Szepsenwol Camhi describes saying goodbye to her mother when leaving for Vilna with her sister

Lucille's father died three months before she was born. Lucille's mother decided to immigrate to the United States with Lucille and her sister, Fejga. They completed all the paperwork, but were unable to get their final papers because of the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Volozhin was in the Soviet-occupied zone of Poland. Lucille and her sister feared arrest by the Soviets because they were members of a Jewish Zionist youth group. The girls fled to Vilna, where their mother later joined them. Their American immigration papers were forwarded to the consulate in Kovno. Lucille and her sister traveled to Kovno for those papers and also succeeded in obtaining Japanese transit visas. They left Vilna, traveling by the Trans-Siberian Express, and arrived in Japan in September 1940. In November 1940, they arrived in the United States. Their mother joined them a year later.


Mother decided to send us away, she packed us up and she, uh...and this friend of the family helped us. And, uh, we got into the wagon and we drove down, uh, to the train station. We got to the train station, there was like daybreak. And the train was standing there and there were thousands, thousands of people trying to get on the train. And most of it...the train was packed and people were going through the windows and through...between the trains. And my mother just...and we had two small...one of those little valises and a...and a bag. My mother just pushed us on the train and just as she pushed us on the train, she sort of threw the two valises after us and the train took off. We never got even a chance to say good-bye to her.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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