Kašuba Family

The following questionnaire was submitted by Rima Kasuba Binder of Long Beach, Indiana

Names and occupations/professions and ages of you and/or your family members who fled from Lithuania

Antanas (Anton) Kasuba-Auditor/Controller (33), Angele Kasuba-Secretary (28) Rimvyda (Rima) Kasuba (5).

Where in Lithuania did you and/or your family live before leaving the country?

Kaunas

When and under what circumstance did you and/or your family members leave Lithuania?

General Eisenhower at Lohengrin DP Camp, September 17, 1945

July 9, 1944 -Second occupation by Soviet army

If known, list the towns on your route from your home to the DP camp(s)

Vienna, Austria; Kapfenberg, Austria, near Graz; Rudolstadt; Turingia, and villages in Bavaria, organized with brother Juozas Kasuba; Dr. Bielauskas, with the help of Gen. Eisenhower, formed a committee of Lithuanians-Lohengrin DP camp near Munchen, Germany; Bremenhafen, Bremen port to board ship Ernie Pyle for USA.

Could you describe what the escape was like? How did you travel (on foot, by boat, train, other?)

We left Kaunas, Lithuania on the last flatbed train leaving Lithuania.

Where did you stay en route?

Stayed with farmers, German people who were willing to take us in, provide food, and sometimes work for my father.

What problems or dangers did you encounter?

The arrest of my father by the German Gestapo since he was accused of being a spy since he was literate and was able to communicate news to the factory workers. He was freed by the German General, who had visited Lithuania, and understood the cultural and educational level of its people. My mother and I were told to stay in our room, which was searched, until we were notified of my father’s release or imprisonment. Fortunately, he was freed. The General told us that we had to leave immediately since he was being transferred the next day and couldn’t guarantee our safety. He arranged for us to leave on the German army transport which dropped us off in one small village.

What did you eat? What did you bring with you/carry?

We ate whatever was provided by the people who took us in-coffee grounds that had been used and reused were shared and my mother would be able to brew “coffee”. In the DP camps, food was provided by the Red Cross, UNRA and generally it was pea soup or farina. We foraged in the woods for dandelion greens for salad and mushrooms.

Describe some memorable experiences from you journey.

The train journey, since it was a flatbed, we sat and my father slept. I held his head in my lap and was afraid that he would roll off the flatbed and lost to us. Living in a barn loft above the milking cows, having warm milk from those cows shared by the German farmer. Pillow fights on the army transport ship Ernie Pyle and many others.

Name of the DP camp(s) in which you lived and approximately how much time you spent in each one.

Lohengrin near Munich 1945-1946, Bremen 1946-1947

Number of years you and your family members spent in each camp.

1 year at Lohengrin, part of 1 year at Bremen

Most memorable events from life in the DP camp(s)

My first Communion and some of the costume parties-Mom made mine out of crepe paper.

How did you and your family members occupy your/their time in the camp(s)?

Did you or any of your family members work? Attend school? My mother attended sewing classes. I attended school. My father worked with the organization council.

What kind of organizations did your family belong to (fraternal, charitable, scouting,
religious, etc.)?

There were none that I can remember at the inception of the camp

When and under what circumstance did you and/or your family members leave the DP camp for the United States? Did you have any sponsors in the US? If so, who were they?

We were able to leave quite early. My father located his sister who was married to the Consul General of Lithuania in New York. They were able to find my mother’s relatives who then sponsored us.

How did you travel to the United States? If you remember the ship name or any other details form the crossing, please describe the journey. What was your port of entry into the US?

We traveled by ship-Ernie Pyle. Very rough water in the English Channel everyone was ill. We entered in New York.

List the places you lived when you first arrived and where you eventually settled.

Lived for a short time in Manhattan, Vineland, New Jersey, Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, Ill.

Where did you and/or your family members work in the US? Which schools did you and your family members attend?

Father worked for Harley Davidson, than moved into the banking and finance through friends in Chicago. Worked as a federal bank examiner after taking evening courses and working. He became the Vice President of Standard Federal Savings. Mother worked for Junior House in Milwaukee as a seamstress, Westinghouse as a factory worker until finally getting a job at Sears –in her profession-She worked in the Import-Export Department.

How difficult was it to learn English?

I did not speak one word of English. I began, fortunately, in a two room school with my first teacher who also spoke German. I was fluent in German. We began slowly-in the first grade class. My teacher in a very short time told me that she would not answer in German since I would never become fluent in English. Thus began my full immersion classes. My mother had studied English and became quite fluent. My father had also studied English. He was an excellent writer in English. Speaking was more difficult but he became quite fluent as well.

When you first arrived, how were you received by other Americans? By other Lithuanians?

By Americans as a DP. Lithuanians-the first ones were immigrants from the late 1900’s thus they had their own clubs etc. We were not accepted. Once we moved and new Lithuanian organizations were formed, we were very active. My parents were extremely active in Lithuanian organizations as well as starting what became the largest Lithuanian language Saturday school–Donelaitis in Marquette Park. This took an enormous amount of work on their part but it was one of the most successful schools and that largest until the population in Marquette Park began to change and the school merged with the one in the Jesuit Center. That school still continues and has grown in numbers.

Please share experiences from your first years of immigration:

a. Where did you work? b. Where did you go to school? Went to school in New Jersey, then for a very short time in Milwaukee finally St Pius on Ashland Ave. in Chicago, Maria HS. c. Who were your neighbors? d. Did you attend church or religious services, if so where? St. Pius and a Lithuanian church.

Did you correspond with relatives in Lithuania?

We were not able to correspond for quite some time but ultimately were able to make contact and my parents sent packages many per year to help support both sides of the family.

When did your family members feel established in the United States?

When my parents bought their first home on 65th and Troy Street.

Did you participate in Lithuanian activities here in the US?

I was the Secretary of the Neo-Lituanus Board, Vice-President of the Lithuanian Student Assoc. at U of I in Urbana, continued in Neo-Lituanus, was Secretary to the Lithuanian National Culture Fund, Inc. which frequently met at Balzekas Museum.

Did you or your family members visit Lithuania during the Cold War?

Yes

What was that experience of returning like for you and/or your family members?

I traveled there with my sister. For me it was a very emotional trip. Vivid experiences in the locations we could visit and those that we could not being followed everywhere we went. My family was questioned after we left and could have suffered reprisal.

List any other thoughts, impressions, memories, that you would like to share with others.

There are too many to list here. But one memory in particular was from a small town in Austria. My father worked in the German military factory. He was arrested by the SS since one of the other workers reported that he was spy since he listened to the news, tried to read all that he could to gain information as to our situation. He was held, questioned, my mother and I were kept in our room until the General in charge of the battalion came to our room and explained that having visited Lithuania he understood the educational level of my father and our family, the high level of culture of the Lithuanian people and thus was releasing my father. He recommended and insisted that we leave that town the next day and that he would help us by having us be transported with his troops since they were leaving the town early the next morning and that our safety could not be guaranteed once he and his battalion left. We rode in one of the trucks with our few belongings and were dropped along the wayside to find our way. We found our way to a farm and the farmer took us in. We lived in the loft area of their barn until my father made contact with his brother and traveled to find Gen. Eisenhower who helped them start a Lithuanian DP camp.

There were good people who helped us throughout the war and after the end of the war.