I went and packed my bags. The railroads were already run by the German army so I had to get permission to buy a ticket. There happened to be a sympathetic officer so I was able to buy a ticket. I believe that was the last train that left Czechoslovakia for (Romania).
My mother’s history is that at age 5 her family moved to the US so my mother was brought up here. At that time in 1939 the war started already and Czechoslovakia was already occupied and Romania was going to be next. So my parents made frantic efforts to get out. They were on a quota system, so many but not more. Because of her background in America, she went to school here. She had to show evidence to the American consulate that she had been in America. By chance her sister who lived in America was a good friend of her former teacher and she once met her and asked her, ”Is there any evidence that my sister Bessie was your student?” She says she has a class picture. So my mother had to show that picture to the American Consulate and said, “This is me, I was there”. And on that basis she was able to get a visa to get the whole family in.
When my family got out we boarded a ship in Genoa, Italy. That was the last refugee ship that left Italy. On the way to the United States, Italy declared war on France in 1940. And from then on they dropped the refugees off in New York and the ship went back empty back to Italy and there was no more trafficking.
Every time we went by jeep through a town I saw in the middle of town there was a big bulletin board. This was a time when the concentration camps were being liberated and the International Red Cross published the names of the people who were released and they put them on the bulletin board. My mother had a lot of relatives who were sent to the concentration camps and she got hold of one of those lists and she found a name that she knew, that was a second cousin of hers. He had just been released from Theresienstadt and he was coming home. My mother wrote to me, "Would it be possible for me to visit that family?" I was anxious to meet a relative. I found the address and I knocked on the door. The people came to the door slightly opening it. What is a man in uniform doing here? They were suspicious of people in uniform anyway. So they opened the door and I said, “Bessie Schwartz my mother is sending you greetings”.