RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Time now for StoryCorps. This project brings us recordings of everyday Americans talking about their lives and loved ones. Today's story goes back to the 1930s. Eric Lamet was a boy living in Austria then. His family was Jewish, and when Nazi Germany annexed Austria 70 years ago this week, Eric Lamet's family fled to Italy. They got separated from his father and had no contact with him throughout World War II.
Mr. ERIC LAMET: In 1946, an Italian court declared him legally dead. My mother, she met another man and started a new relationship. And shortly thereafter we got a postcard that my father was alive and that he was in a displaced person camp in Austria.
I was going to college in a town near Florence and my father came to visit me in that town, and I was very excited. I mean 16 years old at the time. I had not seen my dad in eight years. I waited at the railroad station for quite a bit of time, I got there a little bit early, and my father was a very dapper man. He always dressed in a double-breasted suit, his hair was perfectly combed, he always had a kerchief in his jacket, but when the train came, I saw these people get off and there was nobody there that even resembled my dad.
Eventually somebody called out my name. He was the only one on the platform at that time. It was a broken man walking with a limp and a cane, certainly not well dressed. He was wearing a suit that probably was two or three sizes larger than he was.
I was emotionally totally destroyed when I saw my dad. For two hours we spoke on a bench in the railroad station and I remember that he said to me how were you and how are you. And the only other question I remember was he said to me, and how do you like this Italian gentleman? I don't remember anything else that we talked about.
He eventually decided to emigrate to Palestine, and I did not see my dad for 28 years. One day when I spoke to his wife she said to me that he was very sick and he was in the hospital. The next day I was on a plane. My father did not know that I was coming because I didn't tell anybody I was going, but as I entered the door of the hospital room, he was the only one there, he recognized me immediately and called out my name.
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MONTAGNE: Eric Lamet at StoryCorps in Miami. His recording and all the others in this project are archived at the Library of Congress. And you can hear one more story from Eric Lamet about those days at npr.org.
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