Memory written Eva Silver:  S.S. WASHINGTON 1936

United States Line's SS WASHINGTON, Martin Cox Collection

Munich was the city of my birth and where we lived. The number In our family was eight: six children, two parents. The Port of Embarkation was Hamburg and we arrived there a week before the scheduled departure date because we had heard that my father was about to be picked up by the Nazis. Illness struck, a dreadful flu that hospitalized most family members. Just before we were about to board the ship, the Nazis demanded another sum of money before we would be allowed to leave. It was either 1/3 or 1/4 of the amount we were allowed to take with us.

We finally got on board WASHINGTON. For reasons unknown to my family, the ship was delayed departing. Of course we were terrified: was this delay permanent, were we not going to be allowed to leave: What was it about? When the ship finally departed there was enormous relief, but nerves had been severely stretched. We were to board our ship in December, 1936.

About the trip itself two memories stand out in my five year old mind: One was my pride in not being seasick when most others were in this mid winter crossing. The other was standing on the prow of the ship (ala “Titanic”) with my father, holding hands with him, and feeling his deep sense of peace and relief. We were looking out at the water, just the two of us, and It felt as though all was right with the world.

Originally, this ship was scheduled to sail through the Panama Canal and land in San Francisco. This was desirable on two counts: Since we could not take all the money we had out of Germany, we could use it on a longer steamship ride than just going to New York. This suited us because we wanted to end up in Berkeley, CA where my parents good friends from Germany had settled. However, because of the Longshoreman’s strike in San Francisco, we had to land in New York. I do not remember more about the journey, other than that we rode the train across the U.S.A.
Eva Silver, Los Angeles