Oral History

Susan Bluman describes leaving her family in Warsaw after the outbreak of war

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.

Transcript

So consequently, as I said, Nathan found himself on the Russian part of Poland and I was still in the German part of Poland. And he wanted me to join him in the...in Lvov, that's where he finally came to. And being the youngest, well my father didn't want to let me go. He said, "No, you are too young, you cannot go." And besides, you know the morality was different than it is now. A young woman goes to a boy, it just didn't work that way. But anyhow I tried to convince my father, and finally my sister-in-law--because my young...my brother also escaped at the time on September 7th--and my sister-in-law was going to go with me also with this guide. So my father said, "Okay, but remember that you have to come back in two weeks." And of course, I was in love with my husband and I wanted to be with him. And I said, "Of course, I will be back," but not realizing that...actually I thought that I will be back, maybe not in two weeks, I'll be back in a month or two months, you know. And I said, "Of course, I will do that." And I just took a knapsack and a few things in it. No photographs of my family, nothing. And all I had was--my father gave me his belt which was...and which was kind of a folding belt and in this belt he inserted for me two two-American-dollar bills. And those were like four dollars, American, and a few Polish money, which after I got to the Russian side was not worth very much. And that's how I escaped from Warsaw.


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