The war ended in August 1945. My Aunt Lillian met a man named Mike Novak (who later became her first husband), who came to Krakow from a displaced persons camp in the American zone in Austria, after being liberated from a concentration camp. On July 4, 1946 there was a pogrom against Jews, who escaped death from the Nazis, in the city of Kielce, carried out by some of the city's Polish residents. This atrocity made the family realize that a "normal" life for Jews in Poland was impossible and they decided that they must flee. With the help of Mike Novak, they secretly traveled in a Soviet military truck, through Czechoslovakia to Vienna Austria (which were in the Soviet zone) and then to a displaced persons camp in the American zone in the city of Linz, Austria. The camp was No.64 Bindermichl, former military housing apartments on the outskirts of the city.
The family lived in an apartment across the street from the camp which they shared with Mike Novak and his cousin Ala Davis and her husband Alex. Everyone at the camp was supplied with food, clothing and furniture from UNRRA (the United Nations Refugee Relief Agency) and various Jewish relief organizations. Residents of the camp were taught work skills so they could find work in the nations to which they would emigrate. Some of these skills were: auto mechanics, truck driving, goldsmithing and carpentry. Organizations tried to find sponsors for displaced persons in United States and other countries. My grandparents located relatives in Philadelphia who came to the U.S. before the war. These relatives (the Wilf family) started sponsorship proceedings to bring them to the United States.
During their stay my father and aunt worked for Simon Weisenthal at the Jewish Information Center. The center supplied Jewish refugees with written materials in Yiddish (newspapers, books etc.); and other items they needed. My father learned to drive and received an Austrian drivers license. He studied English with the help of a tutor. The camp held various functions (dances, gaming, English instruction etc.) to occupy the camp residents. The family was able to do some traveling in U.S. Zone of Austria, visiting some of the famous resorts there. My aunt married Mike Novak in 1946.
Sightseeing in Austria ---------------------------- Holocaust Commemoration
Time passed slowly while they waited to hear of their sponsorship in the U.S. In the meantime, my father's Uncle Herman Gross, who survived the war and was living in Lyon, France, was urging them through letters to live in France. The family decided to send my father to France to see if conditions there were to their liking. Since displaced persons could not travel outside of the U.S. Zone in Austria he obtained false papers end traveled by train to Lyon. He stayed with his uncle for six months but the living conditions did not meet the family's standards. On his return trip, he stayed in Paris with the brother of Volko Edelheit and his family for a few days.
Some of the Survivors from Stryj
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