University of Nevada, Reno




Forced Labor in Nazi Germany

By Bill


BillDuring World War II, German soldiers came and took me. Not only me, but other young boys, they took us to Germany from the Ukraine. I was not even 15 years old. I was taken from my family, but not only me. A lot of young kids were.

The trip was three days, maybe nights, I can't really remember. They put us on a farm and we were working on the farm. It was hard, but not too hard, in Germany. There were no soldiers. The farmer, Philip Eisenhower, he was very good.

We were in a camp of 100 to 150 people. The watchman, he was a good guy too. You found bad and good. One day an airplane went over us high in circles. I said, "Phil, tonight there's going to be trouble." We came home, and the dogs started howling. At 12 o'clock, the bombs started. There was a village with an airport, and they were trying to throw the bombs at it.

We came home, and the dogs started howling. At 12 o’clock, the bombs started. … We broke the door and went outside. What the heck are you going to do?  I got to the door, and a piece of shrapnel went, whiz, right in front of me.

After they threw all the bombs, there was nothing left.

The American Army came in … and I went home. But Congress approved and President Truman signed a law to bring Ukraines to the United States. A quarter-million people. I saw my parents, and then I went.

After the American Army came in, they took us for a Fourth of July parade in Philadelphia. After one year, I tried to get into the American Army, and I couldn't get in, because I had flat feet.

Meanwhile, the teacher, she took me to Washington, D.C. Then I come back and I tell her I could go to Buffalo, because I had friends in Buffalo. I sat down on the bus and went to Buffalo.

From the bus, we went on the train. I thought Buffalo was a street, and I showed him, take me to this street. And the guy said, "You crazy? It's 450-500 miles." He got me the ticket, and I went to Buffalo.

OK, it's in Buffalo, Ukranian people. The week after, I got a job—99 cents or a dollar day. Well, it's better than nothing. The Korean War started. I got a job in Ford Co. Two weeks after, in 1952, they called me to the recruiting station. They wouldn't take me again, because I got the flat feet. After that, in '53, they called me again. See how silly and stupid? They should look in their records—anyhow.

In 1954, I became a citizen. I took the test. They didn't ask too many questions—the Fourth of July, the Constitution. There was about 300 people in front of a judge. Now they look a little harder. Then they looked through their fingers.

I wanted to go to California; I wanted to go to Hollywood. I tried to make a little money. But, you know ... women. I met my wife, and in 1957, I got married. She wanted to go to Hollywood, too. I said let's wait a little while, make some money. Then boom, Kids. I was working in Ford, three kids, one after another, and I worked 40 years in Ford.

In the meantime, my parents, they came to the United States too, because of the Ukrainian Committee in Buffalo.

Two things I wanted in my life: Getting in the service. After that, if they don't want me, I'll go to Hollywood. And I never went to see it.


I want to say thanks to the United States Congress and President Truman, because they made it possible for me to come.


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