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Walter and Marlita

Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009.


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.

2 Responses to “Walter and Marlita”

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  • I’m one of the student from korea studying English at UNCC.
    As a young man, I know it’s not easy to imagine how terrible experience you spent was.
    We, young generation, can learn history we’ve never experienced.
    Thank to your story, I’ve felt many things.
    I appreciate it.

    Comment from Jason on June 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • What a great story! It is really wonderful to have detailed accounts of that time in history.
    Nice picture, too! Welcome to StoryCorps, Frank! Hopefully, you will say with us while you are working on the movie! :)

    Comment from Jeremy on May 20, 2009 at 7:46 am - Reply to this Comment

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