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Goldman at 17
In her autobiography, Living
My Life, Emma Goldman describes her feelings as a
arriving in a new country and her feelings as a fiftyyearold
woman upon her deportation from the United States.|
Emma Goldman recounts the day of her arrival in the United States in 1885:My first contact with the sea was terrifying and fascinating. The freedom from home, the beauty and wonder of the endless expanse in its varying moods, and the exciting anticipation of what the new land would offer stimulated my imagination and sent my blood tingling. . . . Helena and I stood pressed to each other, enraptured by the sight of the harbour and the Statue of Liberty suddenly emerging from the mist. Ah, there she was, the symbol of hope, of freedom, of opportunity! She held her torch high to light the way to the free country, the asylum for the oppressed of all lands. We, too, Helena and I, would find a place in the generous heart of America. Our spirits were high, our eyes filled with tears.
...and the day of her deportation in 1919:
It was almost midnight when suddenly I caught
the sound of approaching footsteps. "Look out someone's
coming!" Ethel whispered. I snatched up my papers and letters
and hid them under my pillow. Then we threw ourselves on our
beds, covered up, and pretended to be asleep.|
The steps halted at our room. There came
the rattling of keys; the door was unlocked and noisily thrown
open. Two guards and a matron entered. "Get up now,"
they commanded, "get your things ready!"...
Deep snow lay on the ground; the air was cut by a biting wind. A row of armed civilians and soldiers stood along the road to the bank. Dimly the outlines of a barge were visible through the morning mist. One by one the deportees marched, flanked on each side by the uniformed men, curses and threats accompanying the thud of their feet on the frozen ground. When the last man had crossed the gangplank, the girls and I were ordered to follow, officers in front and in back of us. . . .
I looked at my watch. It was 4:20 A.M.
on the day of our Lord, December 21, 1919. On the deck above
us I could hear the men tramping up and down in the wintry blast.
I felt dizzy, visioning a transport of politicals doomed to Siberia,
the étape of former Russian days. Russia of the
past rose before me and I saw the revolutionary martyrs being
driven into exile. But no, it was New York, it was America, the
land of liberty! Through the porthole I could see the great
city receding into the distance, its skyline of buildings
traceable by their rearing heads. It was my beloved city, the
metropolis of the New World. It was America, indeed, America
repeating the terrible scenes of tsarist Russia! I glanced upthe
Statue of Liberty!
Excerpted from Living My Life (p. 11, pp. 716717).
Photo credits: International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam
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