Moisei Katz grew up with six siblings. His father was a coachman for wood transportation. He attended heder until the age of thirteen. After his father was "drafted" as forced laborer in the Hungarian army, he continued his father's work as coachman. In 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from the Iza ghetto. He was liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp by the American army in 1945 and returned to Koshelovo, via Prague and Budapest. He moved to Khust in 1954 and worked in his profession as chauffeur.
Other Interviews:On the Way Home
Saving the Synagogue in Khust
Arrival in Prague
Leaving For Home
After the liberation from Nazi concentration camps in spring 1945, many Jewish survivors felt the need to return home, before contemplating their next step in life. In the hope to find family members or at the least to recover family possessions, survivors often came to this decision facing much more promising options emigration. This was also the case with Katz, who decided to return to his hometown Koshelovo in southwestern Ukraine (Transcarpathia).
Carpathian-Rusiyan Jews initially thought that they returned home as Czechoslovak citizens. This impression was well justified since for instance Czechoslovak troops came into the liberated camps and “collected” their people or the American occupational administration arranged the former inmate population according to citizenship to facilitate the dissolution of the camp. Each individual’s journey home was a different experience, especially regarding duration, and often dependent on the arrangements – if any - made by the American or Soviet armed forces. The need and longing to go home endured the dire circumstances and length of such a return journey.
In the immediate postwar months of 1945: More than 10,000,000 displaced persons voyaged home with as many as 10,500 people a day. A large fraction of displaced persons traveled to Eastern Europe. As a result, returnees had to endure the chaotic conditions of traveling on the roofs of packed wagons, in trains without a schedule. Another memory is also present: Red Army soldiers at stations, in trains, and at borders. Jewish returnees went through different, what can be called stations on their way home, passing through cities like Prague, Bratislava, Budapest and sometimes Bucharest, on a long term quest to find loved ones.
Katz talks about his experience, when passing through Bratislava and Budapest with his cousins and uncle.