Survivor STORY

Isaac Wise (Visgardiski) was born in Vendzigola and grew up in Kovno, Lithuania. Isaac and his family were forced to move into the Kovno ghetto after the Nazi forces occupied Lithuania. Isaac's and his wife, Rachel's, five-year-old son, Chaim was caught in a round-up of children on march 27, 1944, and was murdered. Isaac was deported to Dachau with his brother, Sam.

After being forced on a death march, Isaac was liberated by the American forces. Isaac found out that Rachel was alive and had returned to Kovno. She escaped from the then-Russian occupied area and the two were reunited. Isaac and Rachel, along with Isaac's brother, Sam, and his wife, Ida, spent several years in Germany waiting to emigrate. While in Germany, Isaac and Rachel had twins. After the war, Isaac and Sam discovered that they lost over a hundred close relatives during the Holocaust.

In 1949, Isaac and Rachel and the twins arrived in Atlanta, where Rachel had relatives, and eight months later they were joined by Sam and Ida. Isaac and Sam opened Wise Brothers Grocery in northwest Atlanta. About eight years later, Sam opened his own grocery business and the original store continued under the name Isaac Wise Grocery until 1970. Isaac passed away at the age of 91 in 2002.


When I got liberated, that time, we had nothing in our minds for future. But really to tell you, everybody had in mind, where to get something to eat because we be so hungry. Three days and three nights. And we been walking to a grave, which was ready for us, all the ketzelach, all the prisoners. With the guard around us, in rain and in snow and mixed snow and rain together the… got cold enough to freeze a little. We been freezing too…like got put in a Frigidaire. We didn't think, we think only who we can find somebody from our family alive. Who can I find? ...I know my parents, our parents, was dead for sure.

And we already start to see ourselves that we getting free, because a soldier walked to me, and he seen I had two overcoats, I had two overcoats of myself, and he asked me if, he want to take a look. What I got under there, like the guard.

A soldier asked that? A soldier? A Nazi?
The guards, the Nazi. But ... every third line was there, from both sides, soldiers. And when he took away, he took away from me my, he want to take away from me the jacket. "You got two, take off one!" And an [German word] a guard man told me, "Don't give him. He just want it from himself." Then I know I am free.

And I see a man, I know him from der heim, from my home. He was really the cook in the, in my camp, we were, where we been. Oh, we start to kiss each other, "And you got free, I got free." And he said, "Isaac, I got regards from your wife." I don't know, when he said the word, and I forgot, I say, "What do you say here?" (Dovid. Dovid Wietz.) "What do you say here? My wife? You see my wife?" "Oh yeah." "Where you seen her?" He said, "In Kovno, [Yiddish phrase]"

I could not to believe it. I told him, "David, I don't believe you know her good. Maybe you got a mistake." "Oh, I got a mistake of your Ruchele?" "When did you see her the last time?" He said, "Sunday." This was Thursday. "On Sunday I eat supper, she invited me." Supper?... They haven't got what to eat; she can invite even a friend for supper? "What did she got to eat" "She ate borscht and potatoes." "Oy, this is my Ruchele," I said.

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Isaac Wise