Oral History

Morton Goldberg describes fleeing from Soviet-occupied Poland to Vilna in 1939

When the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland in September 1939, Martin fled from the Soviet zone of occupied Poland to Vilna. He stayed there for about nine months and then moved to a small town about two hours from Vilna. The Soviets occupied Lithuania in 1940. Using forged identity documents, Martin obtained a visa for transit through Japan. He left Lithuania, traveling east along the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Vladivostok. There he boarded a ship for Japan. Martin remained in Japan until the fall of 1941, when Japanese authorities required Jewish refugees with only temporary residence permits to relocate to Shanghai in Japanese-occupied China. He remained in Shanghai for the rest of the war, and immigrated to Palestine in October 1947.


It was the...one of the hardest winters in my memory. Snow was up to my knees and we had to go all night through the woods and through the snow 'til we came on the other side of the border. And the other side was also a little town and we didn't know where to turn but they told us the rabbi lives in this...in this place. We went to the rabbi. Maybe it was...by the time we came from twelve o'clock to four o'clock we were walking. And at the rabbi's home, of course, they took us in right away and gave us some hot food and, uh, and some place to...to lie down to sleep. And we slept 'til about eight o'clock. At nine o'clock there was a train going to Vilna from there. We have to disguise ourself as local people, like, uh, peasants and we put on peasant clothes and a...a peasant hat, and they gave us even a basket to hold in our hands as if carried with something....as if we are taking some produce to Vilna because the police were all around looking for refugees which are...are pouring into Lithuania, into Vilna. And this way I came to Vilna.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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