Thursday, May 28, 2015

November 6- 15, 1939: Smooth Sailing?

The S.S. Pennland - The ship that brought Opa to America!

Opa finally boarded his ship for America on November 2, 1939. Opa wrote in his memoirs that this was the date he arrived in America, but according to the ship records- this is the day they left. Either way- it was an important date. All quotes in this blog are from Opa’s memoirs, “From Nazi Germany to a Career in Freedom.”

On board ship I was seasick much of the time; after a few days of “misery,” the steward had an amazing cure. He gave me a glass of beer and “Rollmops” (pickled herring) a combination which turned out to be effective.

Gross. I think the cure may have been worse than the illness. But the pickled herring worked for Opa! I guess the nausea kept him from worrying about anything else:

Next, we were stopped by a British warship. They checked all passengers and took off several German passengers. Had it been a German ship, I would have been very concerned.

I have a feeling that hindsight allows Opa not to be as concerned about this encounter. Of course a German ship would have meant certain defeat- but I can’t imagine a British warship pulling a bunch of Germans off the ship didn’t make Opa a little nervous. 

I am thinking about Opa standing outside, leaning against the railing- getting some fresh air and looking out at the endless horizon of water. In that moment he was free. He might have been able to suspend any anxieties about his family at home and the life to come. He may have been able to lose himself in the blue shimmering horizon, to hold on to that fleeting feeling of relief.

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