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We lived in two more D.P. camps while waiting for the visas. One camp was in "Palese" near Sari, a stone's throw from the Adriatic, and the last one was in "Sarletta" a short distance from Sari, also on the Adriatic Sea. life in Italy was quite pleasant. We had leisure galore, we were active in sports, bathed in the ocean and took part in organized cultural activities. We were, however, impatient to achieve permanence. As to the climate in southern Italy where we spent most of the time, the summer days were very hot to the extent that it was impossible to walk barefoot outside. It was, however, not uncomfortable as there was practically no humidity. At night it was pleasant and cool, good sleeping weather. The winters were mild with some rainy days. No mosquitoes. We met and befriended many good people, survivors as well as some natives of Italy. We also came face to face with the ugly side of human nature. Our food was supplied by the U.N.R.R.A. and that fostered a thriving black market. The management of the camps was placed in the hands of committees consisting of survivors. Those were invariably callous, greedy thugs without a trace of conscience or honor. They stole us blind. Italians were seen carrying sacks of flour and sugar out of the camps in the dark of night. We never saw cigarettes or chocolate the U.N.R.R.A. allocated to us. Those items were taken from the ships straight to the black marketeers. The clothing articles the joint distribution committee sent from America to be distributed among us were also trucked from the ships to the black markets where we saw them on sale when we went into town on occasion. I even wrote to Uncle Lewis about it who showed the letter to the authorities but was told that nothing could be done without proof. It is possible that some of those people were also corrupt. The last camp we moved into before our departure from Italy had been inhabited and managed by Yugoslavs and was still managed by them for two weeks after we arrived there. In those two weeks the food was excellent in quality and quantity and we also received rations of chocolate and cigarettes. That, however, changed soon after our people took over. Then our fare was thin soup. and no chocolate or cigarettes. Lilly and I were fortunate as we were helped financially by our U.S. relatives. Those that had no uncles or brothers in America suffered. There was abuse of the Italians' hospitality by unscrupulous elements. One time when a transport of survivors arrived in Italy and were placed in a courtyard, a priest stood up on a chair delivering a welcoming address in Hebrew full of compassion and solace. When he concluded the speech, he was hailed and carried on the shoulders. After he was put down he discovered that his billfold was missing. The concern he expressed was only for the loss of the documents in the billfold and not for the money. That is how he was repaid for his kindness. I didn't witness this event, I heard about it from someone who did, and after what I have experienced I believe it.

The trains in Italy at that time were always very crowded. Even standing room was hard to find. Some survivors, dealing in the black market, traveled by train all over the country. To obtain good seats, those ruthless, stupid oafs dressed in British army uniforms, and posted a guard at each end of the coach barring entry to the Italian people. There was practically no anti-semitism in Italy. In fact, during the war, the Italian clergy with the help of many lay people saved many Jews from the clutches of the nazis and I was concerned that the above . mentioned nefarious acts would engender hatred of Jews. Fortunately, that didn't happen as some of those thugs were apprehended and because of their Polish birth were considered Poles and not Jews. There did, however, exist enmity towards the Poles. Due to the misconduct of the Polish troops who fought in Italy, they didn't exactly endear themselves to the population. On the other hand, the soldiers of the Jewish brigade that fought in Italy, due to their impeccable conduct, had established cordial relations with the people and were well liked and highly regarded. Every time I identified myself as Jewish to an Italian he would say "Ebreo si, Polacko no," ebreo meaning Jewish in Italian. I liked Italy and I liked the Italians. I found them to be warmhearted and benevolent people. Although anxious to come to the U.S., I was also sad to leave Italy.

In October, 1948, our quota came up, we received boat tickets, the fare was paid by Uncle Lewis and Joe. If my memory serves me well the cost was six hundred dollars. We bid our friends farewell and traveled to Naples where we got our visas in the American consulate. On the fourteenth of the same month we embarked on the ship. It was a Polish vessel called "Sobieski" but manned by an Italian crew. It was a second class luxury liner. After fourteen days at sea we arrived in New York harbor on the twenty-eighth of October, 1948. As soon as the Statue of Liberty became visible all of us stood on deck and gazed with a sense of awe on this wonderful symbol of liberty. It was a rare, emotional, once in a lifetime exhilarating moment. Waiting for us in the
harbor were: Morris, Sara and Uncle Lewis. It all seemed so unreal. It was an overwhelming experience. It was like a beautiful dream. We were driven in Uncle Lewis' car to his apartment and soon after we came down to earth and got settled we met many more relatives, who gave us a warm welcome. The genuine affection we were accorded was extraordinary, exceeding all my expectations. What was remarkable was the reception Lilly got. She was immediately accepted, made to feel at home and treated better than a blood relative. Finally, after the ordeal of the Holocaust, we were once again surrounded by a loving family. Most of those beloved people are no longer alive, except in our hearts. We lived with Uncle Lewis for about six or seven months and then moved into a two room apartment of our own. The rest of our family history is to be found in the essay Cookie wrote in school.




Boris Segelstein