the trip

What was memorable about your journey to the US?

Visitor Voices

  1. I was eight when my family left Iran. Coming to america was a exciting and adventurous. I’m glad I came because then I would have never met the special people who are in my life now and wouldn’t be the person I am today.


  2. I was about 3 years old when we left the DP camp in Germany in 1949. On the ship General Langfitt, we were all very seasick. The women and children were in separate quarters from the men. I remember my mother throwing up and eating very little and I sat by her side crying and very scared. In the cafeteria I ran into my father who was very concerned about my mother and he stole a piece of fruit for me to bring back to my mother. That’s what I remember about the journey to America.

    Linda Azif

  3. My family came from Brazil. They had an incredible journey. I love my life.


  4. I was born in Mt. Sinai Hospital un Manhattan in 1987. My mother came to the U.S. from Israe in 1979, along with her one of her brothers and parents Her other brother moved here a few yars prior.
    My grandparents left Translyvania, Romania shortly after the war, and moved to Israel with my mother and older uncle My mother’s first memory is being on a boat, and someone picked her up to watch the waves of the sea. She remembers a round window, the usual shape of a boat’s window. She also remembers that my grandparents brought with them a huge barrel with giise fat in it, which was considered a delicacy at the time. At one point, some of their holy books were covered in some of this goose fat.

    Rachel Sommer-Stern born 1987

    Rachel Stern

  5. This story is about my parents Holocaust survivors and their individual experiences. They met here in New York in 1947 and married here.

    My mother grew up in a small town in Hungary, but spent the years from 10 until the war in Budapest living a middle class life. She spent the war hiding in different areas most often living as a gentile because her uncle whom she lived with before the war in Budapest, had many connections. He saved many others as well.
    They had many harrowing experiences including being given up to the Nazis many times by a vengeful landlady.

    After the war, after going back to her hometown and being threatened by the residents there, my mother, aunt and uncle came here on a converted Pan Am troop carrier. They flew here over three days, making many stops along the way.

    My father’s life and experiences were vastly different. He grew up dirt poor in Munkacz (now part of the Ukraine). His whole family was killed during the war (except for a few cousins), and one brother was killed by the Americans as they were liberating the concentration camp they were in. The Germans, as a last ditch effort, put some Jews into a German truck convoy, and the Americans, thinking that the Germans were escaping, shot up the truck, killing my last remaining uncle.

    Finally, after many stops in Europe, my father and his cousin boarded a working boat (fish trawler?) and crossed the Atlantic to be dumped in Baltimore on a Saturday morning where they were met by members of a Jewish relief organization who could do nothing for them until Monday, so they were forced to walk for miles until they came to the Jewish area of Baltimore and could get food and lodging.

    Both my parents shared their stories on Steven Spielberg’s Shoah tapes.


  6. My parents left South Africa in the summer of 1989. They left because Johannesburg was unsafe for them to raise their family. Though Apartheid had ended, the hatred between the blacks and whites was still present. Though they miss Africa, the life they have created here is one that they would never take back.


  7. My father was taken to Auschwitz to be gassed upon arrival in 1943, in Belgium. On transport 21, he was number 779. I was hidden by Pere Bruno Reynders in Louvain, Belgium.

    I arrived in the USA, here in New York on December 11, 1946 on the Ile de France (still not officially back in service from the military).

    I am now a lecturer in Maine talking to schools about my life during the war and on the speaker’s bureau of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine in Augusta. I live in Portland, Maine.


    Charles Rotmil, Strasbourg, France, Arrived US 1946

  8. Although I was only 3 1/2, my memories are still vivid. We took a small boat from Haifa to Naples. I remember my mother being seasick the entire way. We waited in Naples for a few days until we were able to board the USS Constitution to New York. We celebrated New Year’s Eve on board. I remember the hats and noisemakers. My father held me as we approached New York Harbor. He was crying as he pointed out the Statue of Liberty to me. I still remember the feeling of awe and excitement. Because it was early January 1954, we came into the pier directly. Ellis Island was closed two months earlier.

    Marsha, Israel, Arrived US 1954

  9. My trip with continental airlines boeing 767 was quite satisfying for an economy class trip. Because of our connections we got free ice cream. It was an experience to see how many glasses of water were served.


  10. I came from Russia with my family in 1989. I was four years old then. On the airplane, I asked my father to tell me about America. He told me that there was lots of bubble gum and bananas in there. This quite suited me. In the Soviet Union it was rare to find such things.

    Jack Kalish

  11. my grandfather immigrated to this country when he was ll… his mother wanted him to be safe and as the oldest he was sent alone… he prospered… my grandmother came alone at the age of 13 and as a young woman met my grandfather on the lower east side and they married… the successes of my grandfather had allowed him to bring his whole family to america along with my grandmother’s family… they were so proud of being here…

    i sit here today typing this… my nephew participated in the design of this exhibit along with others… my grandparents smile down on him and i am the luckier one for their strength to leave everyone and everything they had… for freedom and liberty…


    terri s hahn

  12. I have been fortunate to have been born here but many relatives weren’t. This museum showed another side to my heritage. Thank you.

    beth brown

  13. I remember the sight as we came into the new York Harbor. My mother called us to look at the bridges and the necklaces of lights. We expected, at that point that the streets would be paved with gold. When we awoke the next morning to the drab, grey, dirty tenement street we could not believe we were in the same space that we had just come into.

    celia hans vogel

  14. I was born in the US as were my mother and father. But my grandparents on both sides came from parts of Russia. They arrived in the early 20th Century, thus they escaped the Holocaust. However, during WWII, I was always reminded that “the children in Europe were starving” and so I should eat my spinach, carrots, peas, whatever. I had a passionate hatred of Hitler and I’m not quite sure where that came from. Then, when I was 10 years old, the war came to an end and photos of the concentration camps began to be shown. Those photos and their meaning have shadowed my entire life. I have never been to Germany, for example and hearing German spoken still gives me a visceral reaction.

    This place, this light, windowed room, overlooking the bay and the Statue of Liberty has a calming effect upon me. Hearing actual survivors of the Holocaust bless this land that I was born to and frequently take for granted, makes me appreciate it even more, despite its many blemishes.


    Janel Halpern

  15. My grandmother was a young teenager when she came to the U.S. She, her sister, and her mother traveled from a small town in Poland to Hamburg, Germany, where they took a ship to New York. My grandmother told me that she became a favorite of the ship’s captain and would play chess with him.

    Liz Edelstein, United States

  16. In my preparation, I was asked to bring only two of my clothes. I barely slept the night before my trip. I kept imagining how being in an airplane for the first time would make me feel. I also kept thinking about the tons of fun I was going to have, the new friends I was going to make, and the new environment in which I will be living for a long time.

    The plane ride was twelve hours and I didn’t blink an eye. When the plane alighted most of the people tried to stick their heads out the window to get a glimpse. I asked myself, will this country be exactly as I thought it will be or worse? I had very high expectations of this country.

    I got sick the first few weeks. I tried to taste each and every item on the McDonald’s food menu. I didn’t feel that this country was any better than I used to think and since I used to live in the capital city of my country, most of the things I saw were not new to me. But I simply loved it.


    David Amankwah, Accra, Ghana, Arrived US 2006

  17. My husband, daughter, and I arrived here on May 26, 1956 by boat. We only brought with us our clothes and bedding. We left all our house wares behind, since they would have been too expensive to bring along. Upon getting closer to the shores of New York, we actually arrived in Brooklyn, we saw the Statue of Liberty. There was such joy on the ship, which carried quite a few immigrants. When we saw the Statue, it actually meant Liberty to us. We arrived in Brooklyn a few days early and everyone on the boat was worried that relatives or friends wouldn’t be there to meet them. There were some phone books available and by luck, without knowing each book represented another borough, I took the Queens book and called my cousin, who already had been notified by the ship line of the day and time of arrival. Some of my fellow shipmates tried to call also but were unable to make the call since they did not use the right book. Of course, I tried to help, but was unable since no one knew about separate books for different boroughs.

    Gisela Adamski, Oppeln, Germany, Arrived US 1956

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