Survivor STORY

Josef was born in Riky, Poland, and was forced into the Riky ghetto and then into the Demblin ghetto after the German invasion of Poland. Josef survived the Chestochow labor camp, from which he managed to escape into the woods, where he was in hiding. After the war, Josef and his wife, Bronia, lived in the Deggendorf DP camp, from which they emigrated to America. Josef had a kosher delicatessen in Savannah, Georgia, and owned two hotels after moving to Atlanta.
Life and Survival in Europe

When we survived, and liberated, so I wanted to go to my town. So a Pole told us, he was a, what you call it, a policeman, you know, a militia, whatever. So the first thing he asked [phrase in Polish] "you still alive?" I was with a friend - he is now in Australia. So he took a machine gun and told us to lie down in the ditch. He wanted to kill us. But somehow - I think it's a angel - a Russian soldier walked from far, whatever, and he saw him. He said, "A Russian is coming. You get up, because he going to kill you." He stood with a gun, and he said it to us. So we got up and we were running in the woods. And I never went to the city.

Changing Names

When I wanted to take out they, my citizen papers, the judge told me to change my name, from Golcman to Goldman and from Josef, "p-h." Because I was afraid if I change and any of my family will survive, and they wouldn't be, you know, you changed the name. They wanted to make Goldman and Joseph "p-h" and I said, "No I'm not changing my name." Because he said it will be easier. I wasn't American, so I didn't know English, whatever. No I not change my name.

Racism and Race Relations

When I was in Savannah and I had to go to the job, because a bus was ten cents. So I, ten cents was a lot of money for me in 1949. So I got in on the bus, and I came in and I sat down. As I sat down, a lady came up, a lady and the bus was full, and the lady came, then a black lady, that time, we didn't know black, white, we been in Europe, we didn't know. And she was pregnant [Yiddish word] and she was standing there and she didn't have where to sit down, so I got up and let her sit down. The goy [Gentile] stopped the bus. And he said, "Can't you read there?" Now I know what he said, before I didn't know. The whites there, the blacks there and the whites here in the front. "No, I'm not going to sit down." I walked, I went down the bus, and never was on a bus, never.

Life Lessons and Perspectives

People don't realize how life is very precious, and so you have to respect life. Do to somebody, not just waste the time. To do, to take advantage on it, be good, doing good. I think I, since I came to America, I don't think I have anything to say bad or complain or had a bad experience. Even business, business is the same thing - if I lost money, wasn't nobody's fault but mine, probably made a mistake. And you learn by mistakes. So, this mistake, I made up, but I should never blame somebody because of that, so I done this... just wrong doing. And if you start to blame somebody else, you're not accomplish anything.

Josef Golcman