When Walter Kahn, 86, and his daughter, Marlita, entered our San Francisco StoryBooth, I had no idea of the tale that was to come. After the recording was completed, I joked that I wanted him to sell me the movie rights to his story!
Walter told the story of being in school in Belgium as World War II broke out. As a young Jew of 17, he knew that he needed to escape the territory that the Nazis controlled. In the south of France, after twice escaping prison camps, Walter met up with his brother and the two planned to escape to Portugal and safety. After connecting with a guide who would smuggle them through the Pyrenees, the young men made the perilous journey. Staying in caves, farms, and assorted safe houses – including a bordello in Barcelona – they narrowly escaped capture many times. As it turned out, they were the first passengers on an “underground railway” that would later spirit out downed Allied pilots, partisans, and other refugees during the course of the war.
Walter painted a vivid picture of his numerous travails and close calls on his journey to safety and freedom. It was easy to visualize his story on the silver screen.
Marlita had heard stories of her father’s adventures all her life, and was thrilled to finally record the telling of his tale so that future generations would hear them as well.