Oral History

Susan Bluman describes fleeing to Vilna after the occupation of Poland

Susan was 19 years old when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. Her boyfriend, Nathan, was in Lvov when the Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland. Nathan sent a guide to Warsaw to bring Susan to the Soviet zone of occupied Poland. Her parents reluctantly agreed after Susan promised to return to Warsaw within two weeks. Upon her arrival in Lvov, Susan married Nathan. The couple then fled across the Lithuanian border to Vilna, where they stayed for a year. They received a visa for transit through Japan and left Lithuania in January 1941, traveling across the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Japan. Nathan, an engineer, applied for entrance to Canada, which permitted the immigration of persons with important professional skills. Susan and her husband left Japan for Vancouver, Canada, in June 1941.


We finally got to Vilna because it was not very easy because we had to steal across the border and the snow was up to your waistline. It was very hard crossing, but we were very fortunate. Somehow we made it across, but some people who were with us, they were caught by the border police, by the Lithuanian border police. So we had to hide and we hid behind a small building, just like a small little village. It was a very small village called Eishishki [Eishyshok]. And uh...because we had a guide who lived in Eishishki and he took us to this little village. But were caught...the other people were caught. We were younger and we were kind of ahead of them. And we hid behind a small little hut, it was like two o'clock in the morning. And the dogs started to bark and we were just petrified that the dogs are going to give us away. But somehow they didn't. And we noticed a light in one of the houses, so we knocked on the door and the lady let us in. And she gave us some straw to sleep on. And we were just extremely tired after this on foot, going through this deep, deep snow. So we slept there, but in the morning when we woke up, she was no more there. And the guide knocks on the door and he--a small village, they knew exactly what's happening--and he said, "You have to run away right away from here," because this woman was an informer and her house was right on the border, you know, right. So anyhow, so then we got to this guide's house and the guide took us by sleigh to Vilna.


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