I’m holding my eight months old girl, Anna, in my arms. Someone says that it’s just one hour left, until we arrive New York. It’s just one hour left before my life will change forever. Anna is sleeping, and she have no idea about t why we are here and what this means for her. I almost can’t understand that so much can be change in only two weeks. No one, except from those other people on this ship, can understand what this means to me, and what I’m going through. You can’t compare it whit anything! But of course… I’m not sure. Maybe it isn’t how I imagine. Maybe it’s worse, but I’m sure that it’s going to be better than in Norway!
The other passengers close to me are looking forward, wondering when the ship will arrive and talking about how the big city would look like, and how their future will be. Sometimes it feels like they don’t respect that I have my little girl with me. I feel so alone.
Finally I can see the Statue of liberty. I have looked forward to this sight ever since I left home. I think that the Statue is a huge symbol telling that we are coming to a country with liberty and peace. It means a lot of me. But I still have the memories of what I have going through these last months and also the reason for why Anna and I had to leave the country.
It was October 2nd 1942, and the Germans were occupying Røros, where I lived. My husband was killed 3 months ago because he fought for the country, and I hadn’t heard from my friends and the rest of my family since the war started. I just had my little girl with me, hiding in my basement. Someone said to me that some Germans were looking for me. I had actually no idea why, but I thought it may had something to do whit my husband. Maybe he did something they didn’t like, and that’s the reason for why he was killed. But I didn’t know.
I had huge problems to get food. Some days, I didn’t eat at all, but luckily, Anna didn’t suffer the way I did. I breast-feeded her. The lack of food made me as thin as a rake. Sometimes I had to sit completely quiet, because I heard some voices from outside, and I didn’t know if it was the Germans. I couldn’t move a finger, or make any sound at all. I was so afraid that I had my heart in my mouth. It was difficult to keep Anna calm and sometimes it was a narrow escape that we was discovered.
The only possibility for us now, was to flee to Sweden and get a ticket on this ship from Gothenburg to the US. It could be difficult and dangerous, but it was worth a try. We couldn’t live like this. What if I died, what about Anna then? I hated these thoughts. It was too many of them. It was too dangerous to stay in this basement until the war was over, more dangerous than a flee. I couldn’t handle this anymore. Knowing that we could change our lives and be save by flee to the US made me so happy. But I wasn’t happy at all right at that time. I was afraid, but I had to do it. It was sink or swim.
The travel to Gothenburg took me two days without any problems at all. We actually met some Norwegians in the same situation as us. I felt that talking to them was very good for me, I was not alone anymore.
The ship arrives and everybody is running to the immigration gate. I’m holding Anna tight to me.
Now I’m standing in front of the Statue of liberty. My mind is full of questions. Is it going to be like I imagined? What will our future look like? Will we become comfortable in the US and how will we live our daily life? I have no answers yet, only thoughts and feelings running through my mind. The only thing I know, is that it’s going to be better then back home in Norway.