Milanov (Poland), Vilna, Shanghai
Mr. Garden does not talk much about his childhood growing up in Milanov, Poland. He does point out that his father was a Rabbi and he was part of a family that consisted of five children, three boys and two girls.
The holocaust began for Mr. Garden separated from his family. He was studying at a Yeshivah in Vilna, Poland at the time his home town was occupied by the Germans. He found out through a surviving sister that both of his parents and a sister were killed by the Nazis. Mr. Garden believes that the killing of his father was because he was a Rabbi and by his father sacrificing himself to the Germans he saved the lives of many Jewish people living in Milanov. The Germans told the town that if the Rabbi didn’t turn himself in that all the Jews of Milanov would die.
Mr. Garden’s story continues with Vilna being occupied by Lithuanians, which in turn became part of Russia’s possessions. He tried many different methods to obtain visa papers that would allow him to come to the United States but they all proved fruitless except for one. This meant a cross continental train ride across Russia. So, at the age of fourteen Garden went to Moscow to obtain the papers that would allow his brother and himself to travel across Russia and into Japan. Japan would lead to an island in the Caribbean Sea and then he would be able to make it into the United States. Garden was able to make his way through the bureaucracy of Russia at the age of fourteen. He was also able to take care of a younger brother at the same time and obtain for him the necessary papers.
Once the papers were obtained from the KGB in Moscow, Garden and his brother began the trip through Russia. The journey took weeks and many times the bureaucracy of Russia put the trip in jeopardy but both Gardens made it to Japan where they stayed for nine months. The Japanese then made most of the Jews move to Shanghai, China, which they occupied during the war. The Gardens lived in the Jewish Ghetto of Shanghai for six years. During that time Garden continued his education at a Yeshiva that was set up there.
At the end of the war, Garden was able to procure a student visa to the United States. Upon his arrival, he moved to Detroit, Michigan where he lived in a Yeshivah. He learned the trade of being a jeweler and worked at that for a large portion of his life.
Garden married in 1952 and has three children, a son Jeff, and two daughters, Denise and Gail. Garden also has five grandchildren. He rarely spoke of his experience of the Holocaust with his children because he believed it paled in comparison to the plight of the German Jews. He hopes that his children will watch the taped interview and that it will spur discussion in his family.