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Life in Kolomyya, story 1

Lina (Lee) Zeichner’s Memories As Told To Saul Zeichner on August 24, 2000

I was born October 10, 1907 in Kolomea. I grew up with my grandparents Zalman and Ethel Zeichner. I used to play around in my grandfather’s pottery shop. The pottery storeroom was elevated above ground. I and other children used to play underneath it.

grandparents Zalman & Ethel My father, Itchie, left for America in 1912 intending to send for the rest of the family after he got settled. Unfortunately, WWI broke out and we had to wait. Kolomea was going to be a battleground, and soldiers came around and ordered civilians to evacuate the town. At that time my mother, Hudie, was at the famous Calsbad spa taking treatments for a gall bladder problem. It was left for my grandmother Ethel to take me, my three siblings and seven cousins, who were children of my Aunts Miriam Hanisch and Libbe Zulauf, and leave the town on foot. In many towns Jewish familes took us in and fed us. When this was not available, we slept wherever we could, often sleeping by the side of the road.

Hudie and 3 of her 4 children, Lina on left
When my mother heard of the forthcoming battle at Kolomea, she hurried home. She reached Kolomea in late afternoon and found it deserted. She frantically went from house to house in search of us. A soldier saw her and warned her of the coming battle. He told her to sleep under a wagon that night and leave the town early the next morning. He told her that everyone took the one road out of town. She should follow that road and would find her children. The next morning my mother left early and by asking of people along the road she discovered she was right behind us. She caught up to us and took me and my siblings and Hudie’s sister Berthe and her children to reach a large town where she could contact her sister who lived in Vienna and arrange passage to Vienna. (Editor’s note: Hudie and three of her four children, Lina on left.)

Several weeks later we arrived in Brin. (Editor’s note: Brin is about 41.5 miles NNW of Kolomea). We lay down to rest and a woman approached and asked what we were doing. She provided us with a hot meal and lodging. Several days later my Aunt Miriam arrived from Vienna and arranged for us to board a train to return to Vienna. Since we had no tickets or papers, my aunt must have arranged things through bribes. We arrived in Vienna sometime in 1913 and remained there until leaving for America via Rotterdam, Holland on June 13, 1920.

I had a unique experience during that time. In Vienna we had very little to eat and the children did not grow much at all. Through a relief agency, the one child who had grown the least was sent to Holland with a foster family. I was that child. I was suppose to stay there only two months, but the family liked me so much they asked for another two-month extension. I actually got to stay there 8 months. While in Holland I went to Dutch schools and learned to read and write Dutch. When my father was able to bring the family to America, he arranged passage via Rotterdam. My mother and my siblings then left Vienna to go to Rotterdam where they picked me up. We all then traveled together to America.

I will never forget the first experience I had upon arrival in America. My siblings and I were taken to a candy store upon arrival and Max Zeichner bought us our first ice cream cone ever.

Copyright © 2000 Saul Zeichner

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