Oral History

Susan Bluman describes items she took with her when she left Warsaw

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.


When I left Warsaw I took a knapsack and I had a pair of ski boots and...and, uh, I had one dress, some underwear. That's about it, a comb. I didn't have anything else. I just had my father's belt around my waist. I didn't have any photographs. I even had a ring which my...and I didn't take my watch along. I didn't take a ring along. I was just so sure that I'm going to go back. I only had four American dollars and I had about hundred Polish zlotys. That's what I had, very few things. First of all, it would be too heavy to be walking across and...and carrying a heavy knapsack, you know, across the border. So that's all I had. And then when we get to Lithuania, I...we had to buy a pillow, you know. And in the Old Country when they had a pillow was one big square, not like two pillows what you got in this country. But there was one big pillow. So we had to...we bought a pillow. So we had this one big pillow. And we, you...what I'm taking with me...this pillow never left us would you believe it? We took this pillow all the way to Japan. We landed in Vancouver with this pillow. And then years later we--it was a down pillow, or feathers--we went to a place and they divided this pillow and they made two pillows out of it. And those two pillows we had for a long time, then finally we changed. And when my daughter bought a summer home we gave her those two pillows. I think those two pillows are still in her summer home.


View Archival Details

Thank you for supporting our work

We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.