By Frank Young
The U:S: Naval Ship "General Blatchford" left Bremenhaven on 17 May 1950 bound for America and the city of Boston. With the anchoring of this ship in Boston harbour on May 25, the last immigrant ancestors of the Young family had arrived. Aboard the "General Blatchford" was the family of Albert Hantzon. They had started the journey from their home country of Estonia on 23 September 1944. The family members aboard included:
Albert Hantzon born 27 August 1914
Agnia (Agnes) Hantzon born 3 February 1920
Kersti Helen Hantzon born 25 June 1941
The story of this journey allows us to share in the incredible hardships that our immigrant ancestors had to suffer in order to come to America. Unlike the other histories included in this book, the information was gathered from those who lived the experience and therefore it is vivid and alive. Many of this dates covered can not be verified, nor can the family history be extended, since the U.S.S.R. is not presently allowing any of their records to be examined. I have included all known information on this family and leave it to future generations to complete the search when conditions in Estonia are more favorable.
History of Estonia
Estonia, located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, is the smallest and most northerly of the three Baltic countries. Little is known of early Estonian history, although migrations of Slavic, Germanic and Danish tribes are known to have occurred. The Estonians enter history in 1217 when the Danes conquered the country. Continual rebellion by the people induced the Danes to sell the country to the Teutonic Knights who ruled until 1561. Estonia then submitted to Swedish rule, who ruled benevolently until 1721 when they were defeated by Peter the Great of Russia. Serfdom was abolished in 1817 by Tsar Alexander 1 and Russia ruled uninterrupted until 1917.
In 1918, after WW 1, Estonia achieved independence. However, in 1940 the Russians invaded and occupied the country until forced to retreat during the general German invasion of Russia. The Germans occupied Estonia for three years until they were forced to retreat during the second Russian invasion in 1944. Over 70.000 Estonians elected to flee the country rather than remain under Russian rule again. The Russians then absorbed Estonia into their federation. Estonia has not been recognized as a part of the U.S.S.R. by America.
A brief history of the Hantzon
The early war days
The first invasion of independent Estonia occurred in June, 1940 by the Russians. The invasion was accomplished with little fighting or destruction, and a farce of an election resulted in Estonia formally becoming a part of Russia on 3 August, 1940. Over 60.000 opponents of sovetization, including owners of farms which were collectivized, were executed or exiled to Siberia. Restrictions were placed on Religion and other personal liberties, and a vigorous propaganda campaign was implemented. The freedoms enjoyed by the Estonians since 1918 were essentually eliminated, and the Russian state police ruled by fear.
During this period, Albert and Agnes were living in Valga. Albert was working as a clerk in the Custom House and attending the University at Tartu 50 miles away. He was able to travel this large distance, since the Custom House made available free tickets to their employees. The first year at the University, Albert was enrolled in Theology. He later switched to a Law curriculum, however the constant course changes by the Russians eventually caused him to terminate his studies. The annexation by the Russians had also made the Custom House unnecessary, and Albert became a clerk in the tax bureau.
Agnes at this time had just finished high school and was living at home with her parents. She had met Albert through a common friend in 1939 when she was 17 and he was 23. They were married 26 November, 1940 in a service at home, due to the Russian restrictions on Religious ceremonies. On the evening of 25 June, 1941, Agnes gave birth to their first child, Kersti. Outside the hospital the sky was filled with phosphorous bombs. The bombings prior to the general German invasion of Russian territory had begun. The nurses and aids had retired to the shelters and told Agnes to signal when she felt the baby was coming. The hospital was pitch dark due to the black out and the sound and flashes of the bombing created an even more frightening experience. This was Agnes`s introduction to the horror of war, which would continue until their immigration to America in 1950.
The Germans entered Estonia in July 1941, 10 days after Kersti was born. The arrival of the Germans and the forced departure of the Russians was an improvement, although the Estonians would have preferred to return to independence. The fear of the state police was removed and some personal liberties were returned. Albert and Agnes were remarried by a pastor during the German occupation and, after several months, Albert joined the home guard and the family settled into a routine.
As the Russian army re-entered Estonia in September, 1944, the Estonian home guard was activated. Albert was transferred closer to the front and had to travel 12 miles on weekends in order to see Agnes and Kersti. He had made arrangements with another family, to take them along if and when they left. Although the promise was broken, Agnes took Kersti and Salme (Albert`s mother) and followed them to the city of Viljandi. Agnes`s parents did not leave, since her father was away visiting his brother and her mother would not leave without him.
The Germans were at this time moving north on the trains. Because of a lack of engines they would pull train to a station and then go back to pull another train to the same station. When all of the trains were at the station they would start pulling them to the next station. This process took a while, but it was the only transportation available. Agnes along with Kersti and Salme climbed aboard a flatcar carrying ammunition. As they were pulling out of town they saw a friend from Valga. He told Agnes that he had seen Albert the day before. Since the train was moving, they could not get off.
At the next station they got off, and Agnes convinced another young woman named Olga to go with them and go south. The Germans recommended against this, but allowed them all to get into a boxcar going south that night. They slept till morning and when they woke up they realized that they were sharing the car with some Russian prisoners. Later the Germans had the prisoners carry Agnes`s and Salme`s luggage to another open ammunition car. Salme looked into one of the boxes and they contained mortars. Even though they were sitting on these explosives, they still smoked unconcerned. Finally they got back to where they had started, the city of Viljandi. The Germans told Agnes that the train would again head south in 6 hours. She left Kersti and Salme and told them to keep heading south if she did not return, and get off the station at Moisakula where Olga`s brother lived. This would allow Agnes to find them if she missed the train. She then set off in search of Albert.
There were two army headquarters in the city. At the first one they had no information but they did allow her to leave her name and some information such as where she was headed in case Albert reported there. At the second headquarters she was walking up the steps with her head down trying to think of what message to leave. All of sudden she heard someone to call her name, it was Albert! A few minutes either way and they would have missed each other. Albert`s presence was also amazing. He had been released from service and was in the city looking for Agnes. His motorcycle had been stolen several days before and he was therefore also stranded. The family at last was all together and they returned to the train and headed south. The only loss up till now was most of Albert`s possessions which were on the motorcycle.
After traveling all day they arrived in Moisakula near the Latvian border. They left the train and spent a terrible night sleeping fully clothed in a greenhouse. Near dawn they awoke to the sound of explosions, which later turned out to be the Germans blowing up all the bridges to slow the Russian advance. Albert, realizing that the Russians must be very close, took the family out to the main highway to try to get a ride. Many cars and trucks passed before a car finally stopped and Albert asked the driver to take them south. The Soldiers in the car were part of the "Destroying troop", whose job was to blow up bridges. They told Albert that this was the last vehicle left in town, but they were not supposed to give civilians rides. However, when they saw their child Kersti, they agreed to take them. They were each allowed to take one suitcase, except the person who held Kersti could not take anything. They wanted everyone to have at least one hand free. They did not have time to distribute their possessions in the luggage, so many valuable things were left behind.
The trip was like a nightmare. At the start, the road was clogged with fleeing people, cows, horses and wagons. Finally they were passed the congestion and the road, near the sea, was empty. They were now in Latvia, having crossed the border and left Estonia on 23 September, 1944. They rode in silence and did not stop until they reached the Latvian capitol city of Riga. Once again they were left standing on the street with nowhere to go. After spending the night in a large sauna, they again obtained a ride on a German truck.
They spent the next several weeks traveling south in Latvia, riding in the truck and spending the nights in various farmhouses. The truck was part of a supply convoy. Their truck was carrying all forms of wine and liquor, which Salme soon discovered. Although she was warned not to take any, she still lightened the trucks load. They crossed the Lithuanian border, but were forced back into Latvia because of the Russian advance.
In one town, an army major was forming a guerilla band to continue to fight the Russians. Albert still had on his uniform and was asked to join the guerillas. The major was furious when Albert said it was futile at this time to fight the Russians and he had his family to take care on. The major brandished a pistol and only the intervention by a friend of Albert`s calmed the major sufficiently to talk. They only allowed Albert to leave if he would agree to be in charge of taking 250 others to safety. The family, with the responsibility of now caring the other refugees, then returned to Riga.
They all spent several days in an auditorium in Riga. While there they had to do chores such as gleaning the toilets. Every person had a number and when your number was selected it was your turn to clean. Several individuals including an Estonian ballet prima donna and an army officer felt that this was below them, but in the end they also had to perform various duties. Albert tried to get train transportation for everyone but none was available.
They then went to the Latvian city of Liepaja, where they left the trucks and tried to get passage on the Italian hospital ship "Laplata". No men were boarded until women and children were handled. While arranging to get everyone on the ship, Albert was asked by an army officer to come with him and escape. Albert said: "How can I leave with all of these people to take care of?" When the officer said to just leave them, Albert told him he wasn`t fit to be an officer and ripped off his insignia. Eventually men, including Albert, were also permitted to board.
They were all packed in like sardines and all of the inside cabins reeked from smell of people and seasickness. They all had to wear life jackets, but Kersti`s jacket was so big on her that she looked like a pumpkin and could barely walk. At night, Albert and Agnes went on deck to get some fresh air. Suddenly everything got all white. The Russians were bombing the city and port with both explosive and phosphorous bombs. Sirens blaring, antiaircraft guns firing and men and women crying. In Agnes`s words, "Imagine Hell!" . They could not go back into the cabins since the seamen would not let anyone for fear and panic. The next morning they finally put to sea.
Over the next several days, they were constantly under attack by both planes and submarines. Although one torpedo almost hit their bow, the ship landed in Poland with only a few injuries. They disembarked in the Polish city of Gdansk, and were fed by a Polish women`s organization. You have to had your own pot, however, and Albert only had a small milk can. He went into the market and bought a pot, but they still had to share Salme`s utensils which was all they had. Later they boarded a train and headed south, further into Poland.
The train eventually stopped, since there was only one track leading out of the city. They were told that they would leave as soon as the train coming from the other direction passed through. Albert got off the train in order to get some water. Agnes was petrified that he wouldn`t get back before the train left. After awhile, she saw the other train coming and really started to panic. As the train passed, she heard someone yell: "Oh my God, a man just got hit by the train!". Although she couldn`t see out of the window, she was convinced that it was Albert.
Albert had also seen the train coming and had tried to cross the tracks before it arrived. His boot caught in the track and he was hit by the train`s bumper and pushed into the parked train. He was covered with blood and his clothes were shredded. A Lithuanian doctor examined him and said he had internal bleeding, but no bones were broken. The doctor recommended that he stay, but Albert said. "I`d rather die than stay here." He slept on the train bench and the family took turns standing and sitting with Albert`s leg on their lap. Eventually he received First Aid at one of the transient camps.
At one of the stops, they all had to get off the train and board a bus. They were then taken to a camp where they were disinfected. A mark was then put on them to indicate that they had gone through the process. Everyone was warned that they would not be allowed back on the train unless they had the mark. Albert couldn`t get off without help, because of his injuries. Agnes couldn`t get anyone to help, even those people who Albert had helped get on the Hospital ship. Finally a young Polish boy of 14, and the German bus driver helped him off the train and onto the bus. At the camp, two Polish men offered to take care of him, including undressing and dressing him. Eventually they were all back together on the train and continued on their way. The kindness of these people is in sharp contrast to the self centered attitude of the other passengers aboard, including Albert`s own countrymen who he was helping escape. The train route took them through Lodz and Poznan in Poland, and the German cities of Berlin, Dresden, and finally Leipzig. They were in Dresden before the fire bombing destroyed that city. While in Dresden, Agnes went to a drugstore to get a "louse" spray, since by now they were infested with them. They arrived in Leipzig on 8 November, and this was their home until the war finally ended.
When they arrived in Germany most of the refugees split up and found work on farmers further south or in a variety of labor camps. Albert had hoped to find a job in Austria, however his injury (and the fact that he still felt responsible for the 25 refugees still with them) made them stop in the industrial city of Leipzig. They were employed in a camp that made parts for the German Tiger tank. Olga was still with them as was Olga`s husband.
The camp had about 30 or 40 Estonians and Latvians, but was mostly Russians. They lived in barracks and the beds were 3 tier bunks made out of wooden slats with wood shavings as a mattress. The barracks (which held 24 people) were heated by coal stoves but they had little wood to start up the coal fire. They used the wood slats from the beds to start the fire until one night they had removed so many that Agnes fell right through the bed. Outside of the lack of food, the biggest discomfort was still the lice. The only soap they had was very rough lava soap.
The food was prepared in a common kitchen staffed mainly by Russians. A typical days food was two slices of bread, a slice of soft cheese or a slice of blood sausage and a bowl of soup. In the beginning the soup wasn`t bad and included potatoes, cabbage, carrots and meal to thicken the broth. Later everything was gone except kohlrabi (turnips) which has very little calories. Everyone was always hungry. One night Agnes got up to sneak a piece of bread but Kersti woke up and cried: "Mommy I want bread." The food should not have been so bad at this time since the Germans were still eating fairly well, however the Nazi`s running the camp stole most of the food.
A friend of Kersti and the friend`s family had found a supply of turnips and onions in a nearby farmers field and they were stealing some each evening. The friend asked Kersti to come with them, which she did. So each night she would help them steal the turnips. After awhile she felt guilty and finally told Agnes what she had been doing. Agnes was furious, not because Kersti was stealing, but because she was giving everything to the friend`s family. Kersti continued her career of crime, however now the food came home. At least for awhile the family ate a little better with roasted turnips and onions added their menu.
The camp was not a prisoner or concentration camp and the people in the camp were supposed to be protected by the same laws as the Germans, however this was not the case since they were foreigners and Germany was at war. They were given a salary but, by the time they paid for the barracks and food, there was very little left and very little to buy even if they had money. Most items required ration stamps to buy, but they were not given any ration stamps at the camp. They could go into the city, but they had to leave their passport at the camp. This essentially kept them from leaving.
The Allied bombings at night were constant. They could even see the bombers going to Dresden and the terrible fires caused by the bombings that destroyed this city and all of the art of Europe that had been stored there. At least twice a night they had to go to the shelters for protection. A big hole next to the barracks one morning reminded everyone that not going to the shelters was very foolish. Kersti slept with her clothes on since it was too hard to dress her in the dark. One night, going to the shelter, Agnes had returned to the barracks to get something and she told Kersti to stay with Salme. The shelter was dark and cold and children were crying and people were pushing. Kersti got scared and ran out of the shelter yelling: "Mommy where are you?". Agnes finally found her, but these bombings were the lasting memories of this period for Kersti.
Agnes and Salme cleaned the forms that were used to make engine bodies and Albert was an electrician. Agnes kept falling asleep during the job, because she couldn`t sleep at night through the bombings. She finally talked them into given her a job where she stood up and also only had to work 8 hours. They were wearing shoes with wooden soles by now, since their original shoes were falling apart. Albert, however, talked them into giving him real shoes, since he had to climb ladders as a part of his job as an electrician.
One night while making his rounds Albert fell into an open manhole and cut and bruised his lower leg very badly. He went to work for several days until his leg started to swell. The camp medic bandaged the leg with paper, but it started to turn blue and he developed a high fever. Agnes tried to get the medic to look at it again, but he refused, saying Albert just had the flu.
Agnes finally went to the chief medical officer of the camp and told him about Albert. The medical officer was not very helpful until he learned that Albert was from Tartu where the officer had been an exchange student. Then he called up the medic and really chewed him out. He told Agnes that he would look at Albert the next day. When Agnes returned to the barracks the medic was there and he was in a range, because Agnes had gone over his head. He started to grab for his revolver, but all the people gathered around Agnes to protect her. She was carrying a pot of hot soup which she was going to throw in his face if he took out his gun. After the medic calmed down they took Albert to see the medical officer. When he saw Albert`s leg he didn`t think it could be saved.
They took Albert to the hospital every 2 days to clean the wound. Albert was carried the 2 - 3 miles to the hospital by several Russian workers. Each time it was like a new operation. They had to open the wound, scrape and clean it, and finally bandage the leg. All without the benefit of any anesthesia. One of the factors preventing the wound from healing was the malnutrition, Albert was suffering from. They moved the family to the hospital barrack which was closer to the hospital. However, one of the patients that they shared the bathroom with had TB and was splitting up blood. Agnes complained and they were moved back to their barrack.
Albert was limping for a long time and then spent the rest of the days at Leipzig limping around on crutches. He spent most of his time trying to get ration stamps at city hall, fixing radios and finding food. At one shop, where there was always long lines, he told the shopkeeper he was a Volkslander living in Danzig and had returned to Germany when the war started and then was wounded.. From that day on, Albert was always permitted to enter through the back door and avoid the lines. He would walk the 2 miles there every day to get a meal of onion rings.
He fixed radios for people in exchange for bread, clothes, and parts he needed to build his own radio. All he had to work with, was a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a neon bulb that he used as voltmeter. He had built his radio using coil wire, earphones, detector and a variable condenser. All parts that he managed to beg borrow or steal. The antenna was the coal stove. He would listen to Radio Free Europe, which was already operating in France, but had trouble understanding the American slang and accent. At night he was able to pick up England which he could understand much better. The radio had to be hidden since they were forbidden. Albert hid the radio under a floor board along with 12 shot Russian automatic revolver that he had been carrying since leaving Estonia.
He listened to the advance of the Allies and waited and finally they were there. The Americans along with the Free Polish troops liberated Leipzig. Albert lost his binoculars to a Polish soldier who gave him a bicycle that he took from a German. The war was over on 8 may 1945, but the Hantzon`s ordeal was not.
The first effect of the German surrender was that food was no longer supplied to the camp laborers. For over the week the people had to fend for themselves until the Americans finally brought food to the camp. Agnes saw some Russians women carrying sacks from one of the adjoining factories and Olga and her went to investigate. They returned with sacks of peas and beets which they made into very gassy soup. Albert saw a young boy with his body half in a hole passing potatoes up dog fashion. Since Albert was still crippled and knew he couldn`t get the hole, he calmly filched the potatoes while the boy was still in the hole. Imagine the young boy`s surprise when he finally came out and saw so few potatoes! It was also during this week that Albert found papers in the commandants office that indicated that they were on a black list and would likely have been sent to a concentration camp if the war had lasted much longer. Albert believed they were on the list since he was the leader of the Estonians in the camp and they made trouble with medic and city hall.
One final horrible episode happened before they finally left the camp. Olga and her husband Alexander had gone to a Russian laborers party where they were served a spiked fruit punch. Unfortunately the Russians had used wood alcohol and Olga and Alex along with 2 Russians died the next evening. The death of Olga was extremely upsetting to Agnes. While Olga was still in the barracks waiting to be buried, Agnes went in to get some pickles that were stored in Olga`s room. All of a sudden she couldn`t move, she thought that Olga was stopping her from leaving. She almost fainted before she realized that she was just stepping on her own shoelace. Agnes prepared Olga for burial and they were buried at the camp common grave.
Albert first took the family to a camp at the university. At this point an Estonian professor was in charge of the refugees. They got food stamps to buy food in the city but it was still difficult to get food. The Germans hated the foreigners and they would always say: "no food left". when they heard Agnes`s accent and limited German. One day, while trying to get food, Agnes was on a bus. An old man sitting across from her heard Kersti speak and knew she was a foreigner. He gave his seat to another woman and then told Agnes she had to give him her seat since he was handicapped. She argued, but finally got off at the next stop. Albert had more success. Wearing his uniform and speaking English and German he got served right away. The Germans thought he was a newly released English prisoner and treated him with deference due a conqueror.
It was still very hard to get food however, and the professor in charge fled. Albert therefore decided to go to the American camp. He packed his belongings on a cart with Kersti on the top and walked the 10 miles to the camp. The food there was unending. They got soup in pails so large that it was impossible to eat all and they had to dump the rest on the ground outside of the barracks. There were Germans standing outside the fence begging food, but the MP.`s wouldn`t let anyone give them food.
At this point the fear returned. Based on the Yalta agreement, Leipzig would be a part of the Russian zone. Albert realized that he had to get his family out of Leipzig within 2 weeks or again they would be under Russian rule. He ran over the city trying to get help, but was told that they should go home to Estonia which had been liberated by the Russian Allies. It was also part of the Yalta agreement that all prisoners and displaced persons were to returned to their homeland. No arrangement had been made for those people who did not want to return to their country, because the Americans considered Russia an Ally and believed they could be trusted. Albert finally found an English commander who helped them flee. This time Albert was in charge of 600 refugees from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. They all were placed in trains and spent 4 days traveling only 300 miles (due to the destruction of all the train tracks) to the town of Goppingen. They ate cold canned corn beef hash and chili on the trip and many people got sick. Kersti had diarrhea and a young baby died. They had to leave the baby with some troops to bury, since they couldn`t stay long enough to bury the baby themselves. On the way they passed a train loaded with Russian going home. The Russians shot at the train, because they realized they were fleeing from going back to Russian controlled countries.
They spent 2 months in Goppingen living in a hanger with 200 other people. The camp included 7000 Russians and 2500 other nationalities. Albert had to go to meetings every morning since he was still in charge of the 600 refugees. He was very careful not to speak out against Communism however, since the Russians were armed. The Russians had already been organized into military units under a Russian major in full uniform. They had weapons, although periodically the Americans would raid their camps and disarmed them. Somehow they always found new weapons. Finally Albert and his family were moved to Geislingen.
With their arrival in Geislingen on 11 October, 1945, they returned to more normal lives. Agnes summed up the year: "I left Estonia an innocent young girl and had to grow up immediately". Once in the camp Albert was relived of his responsibilities to the refugees. They lived in a house that had 2 rooms and a kitchen downstairs, 3 rooms upstairs, and an attic and basement. They shared the house with 22 other people. The houses were allocated to the refugees using a rule of 4 square yards per person. Their room included a sofa, bed and army cot. Kersti slept on the cot.
The camp at Geislingen was an all Estonian camp of about 5000 people. They had their own schools, sports, theater and even a sauna. The camp was run by the International Refugee Organization. The food and board was free if you just worked in the camp since there was no salary. There was plenty of food such as bread, vegetables and macaroni however, meat and fruit were available only in limited amounts. If you had money it was possible to buy these items in the town.
Albert ran a little radio shop order to get money to buy food and clothes. He would travel all over southern Germany visiting factories in order to get radio parts. Because of the inflation at the time, Germany was essentially on a barter system. Albert would trade cigarettes for the needed parts and return to his shop to fix the radios. Typically he would be away 3 weeks and home 1 week. He did this work 3 years and then joined the I.R.O. police force. He worked at the I.R.O. headquarters 25 miles away for over a year, and then was unemployed until coming to America.
Their biggest problem was getting clothes. The only place that clothes were available was on the black market. Although they received CARE packages from America, there was not much of value in them. They had been stripped of good things before they got to the camp. This was probably one of the primary sources for the clothes sold at the black markets. Albert traded his camera and radio for a winter coat for Agnes and 2 suits for himself. Agnes went to the sewing center and learned to fix up their clothes and make new clothes out of junk. Kersti was the worst off, since children`s clothes were even more rare. Agnes made her clothes out of army blankets. Kersti still wore a pair of pants, made out a blanket, when they first came to America.
Kersti remembers always standing in lines waiting for things and taking walks with Salme to pick mushrooms. She also remembers being teased and bullied by the Germans. The Estonian children quickly learned to tease back, however, and they would yell back at the Germans. "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Ein Kartoffel, das ist alles" (Germany, Germany over all, One potato, that`s all). Agnes remembers the constant drinking and arguing. They had made a still so there was plenty to drink. The drinking along with the uncertainty of the future led to many arguments and fights. As Albert said: "Not nice but at least we were free."
Beginning in 1948, the refugees began to immigrate to their host countries. The earliest countries accepting immigrants included England, Belgium, and Australia. America began accepting in 1949. The arrangements were primarily handled by the various religious organizations such as Lutheran, Baptist, and Catholic. For the early immigrants, their new homes and jobs were often worse than the camp that they left. Belgium accepted many work in the coal mines, and their lives were so miserable that many returned to the camps. Albert`s first offer was from a church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to be a caretaker. He was asked by friends of an old Estonian organist to allow the organist to take this offer. Albert agreed to this request, and continued to wait. His next offer on 3 December, 1949 was sponsored by Pastor Karl Schleede of Schenectady, N.Y. Albert accepted this offer and started the process to immigrate. A subsequent offer from Chicago had to be refused since he had already accepted the previous offer. This offer may have provided more opportunities for Albert, however this history would not have been written, since Kersti would never have met me and married me.
The following translation of Albert`s diary, written on a calendar, highlights the key events:
1. Document filing and fingerprinting 27 January, 1950
2. Screening (CIC) 23 February, 1950
3. Ludwigsburg commission 17 April, 1950
4. Grohn-Bremen-Veegesack transport camp 10 May, 1950
5. General Blatchford sails 1500 hours 17 May, 1950
6. Arrival U.S.A. Boston 1700 hours 25 May, 1950
7. Come to land 1230 hours 26 May, 1950
8. Arrive in Schenectady 0030hours 27 May, 1950
9. My own home 1 June 1950
*note - informed by church 3 December, 1949
Their primary purpose of the various screenings was to expose was or civil criminals, and to determine medical health. During the screenings, a spot was detected on Salme`s lung that prevented her from leaving with Albert. She joined them a year later after flying to N.Y. and then taking the train to Schenectady.
The General Blatchford was at sea for 8 days. During this period, the men were assigned tasks such as painting and the woman did cleaning chores. Each person had to work 3 of the days. However, Albert worked 8 days, since double rations were given on any day worked. Agnes, on the other hand, remembers always being seasick.
Once a Schenectady, Albert was offered a job on a farm. He refused this job and told the sponsor he wouldn`t know which end of a cow to milk. Another reason for rejecting the job was that the pay was so small that it would be impossible to save any money. He took a job at a "Swan" cleaners for $ 120/month. Agnes also worked there half days for several months, and then switched to house cleaning 3 days per week. In September, Albert switched to working at a radio shop. He fixed all the radios by January and then quit. He then went to work for an Electronic company named Millivac for $ 1.10/hr. and lots of overtime. In 1986, Albert was still working for this company. Within 5 years, the Hantzons were citizens, owned their own house and Albert was established in his electronic`s career.
Albert`s mother, Salme died in Schenectady in August 1970. Albert died in 1990. Albert`s and Agnes` daughter Kersti married Frank Young. They have two sons Jon Adam and Kyle Andrew. Agnes visited Estonia in 2006 and died in February 2007 in Valga, Estonia