Survivor STORY

Adele "Kiki" Kallman was born in 1883 in Krefeld, the Rhineland, Germany to Carl Kallmann and Emma Katz Kallmann. She and her older brother, Max, grew up children of privilege during the last part of the nineteenth century at a time of peace in Europe and of well-being for its middle classes. Her education included a year of finishing school in Switzerland, where she learned to speak perfect French.

Adele married Karl David Kohn in May 1902 and moved to Aachen, Germany. They had one child, Lieslotte (Lilo) Kohn. After Karl's death, Adele and her daughter moved to Berlin to be near her parents. After World War I and her father's death and the loss of the family business, she supported herself by renting out rooms in her Berlin apartment until 1939, when she moved in with her daughter and her family.

After each member of Lilo's family emigrated to England, she moved into a neighbor's basement room and worked for her food at the café at the railroad station until August 1940, when she began the "Amazing Journey." She somehow obtained a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and a temporary visa for Panama and started a two-week train trip from Berlin to Irkutz, Siberia. She survived by bartering soap and cigarettes for food.

From Siberia, she crossed by ship to Yokohama, Japan, and then boarded a freighter with a load of refugees as well as goods that sailed for Sam Francisco. No one was allowed to land in the United States, although all admired the Golden Gate Bridge and longed to walk on it. The ship continued on to Panama, and again no one was allowed off the boat because of the imminence of war. The visas were not honored. No country in South America would allow the refugees to land. When the ship reached Chile, there was no choice but to turn around and sail back to Japan. At this point, the refugees were informed that they would need cash to apply for a visa to somewhere. Adele contacted a businessman in Valparaiso, someone whose name she had gotten from a friend in Germany, and this man, whom she had never met before, lent her $200, a sum which she repaid over time. (Adele continued a correspondence and friendship with him.) The Joint Distribution Committee managed to obtain Ecuadorian visas for all the refugees and they all disembarked at the port of Guyaquil, right on the Equator, a very hot place on December 24, 1940.

Adele worked as a domestic in Quito, Ecuador's capital. When she applied to the American Consul for a visa, he granted her one right away because he happened to be from Macon, Georgia, and though Atlanta was a fine place to go. She left Cristobel, Panama, on the Cefalu of the Standard Fruit and Steamship Company of the Vaccaro Line on March 19, 1941 for New Orleans. There, members of the National Council of Jewish Women met her at the dock and welcomed her. She stayed with the Stern family for a few days, then continued on to Atlanta by bus.

In Atlanta, she lived with her daughter and family at Durant Place and Darlington Circle. She took training and worked as a practical nurse taking care of many newborn babies and small children, to the delight of their families. She became a proud American and loved everything about her new country. She was interested in politics and kept up with her friends and world affairs. She took great pride and joy in her six great-grand children. She died shortly before her 91st birthday, on January 23, 1974.

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Adele Kallman