Ben Wosk: Russian Persecution of Jews in the 1920s
Date:Thursday, April 21, 1983
ID:Digital audio recording #: 19.83-01
ID: What made your father want to leave Russia?
BW: Well, what it really started, really finished at is one night, [they] knocked on the door about two o’clock in the morning, two or three o’clock in the morning. It was after 12 anyways. And they told him to dress and they arrested about 2, 300 no, 350 people. There was clergymen, a lot of Jewish people, but there was not...
[Tape cuts out]
BW: They knocked on the door and came in and told Dad to dress fast and to come along with them. And of course we heard so many stories so Morrie and myself grabbed his legs and started to cry. And Mother started to cry because we knew that a lot of them never came back once they arrest them. And the fellow pulled out his sword from that and he told Mother that to take us away or if not, he’ll chop our heads off. And [she] took us away and they arrested him. He was away for four days. And out of all the people that was arrested about half of 14 returned. The rest of them, nobody ever knew what happened to them.
ID: Now, what reason did they give for arresting him?
BW: [They didn’t for arresting him], they didn’t give no reason.
ID: They didn’t have to give a reason.
BW: They didn’t. No reason at all. Now when he came back his hair was as white as a ghost. And he just looked horrible. We were still in Russia, we came over here, we lived for 10 years in Vancouver. Everybody, I asked him, and Mother, everybody, “What happened?” He never said one word what happened. Either he forgot or he didn’t want to tell because it must have been so horrible. We never knew. He died, he never told us what happened in the four days that he was in jail.
ID: Was this…
BW: By the communists.
ID: Yes, now, but when they arrested him, was it after that that he decided to leave Russia? It wasn’t before?
BW: No. [What we’re talking about,] because once after that he decided and so on. But he never told us what happened.