THE GREY FOLDER PROJECT
Unadorned travel report
MY GRANDFATHER, KURT SONNEMANN, wrote the account of the trip that he and my grandmother, Berta Sonnemann, took in the summer of 1940, through Russia and Siberia, to escape Nazi Germany for the United States. Although the account is undated, as it ends, he writes that they arrived in Yokohama on September 6 and "after another week on the ship we will arrive in San Francisco and will then have seen the greatest part of the world!" Therefore, we know that he must have written the account on the ship in early Septermber, 1940. He presented the account to his wife, Berta, on the occasion of her 75th birthday on August 4, 1961.
The handwriting is difficult to read, and it has not yet been professionally translated, but I worked with a rough translation that my father wrote in 2002, in which its full title is "In the summer of 1940, FROM BERLIN TO SIBERIA & JAPAN TO THE USA, AN UNADORNED TRAVEL REPORT" by Kurt Sonnemann.
I donated the original account to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in November of 2014. Below are scans of the original, in German.
NOTE: These pages were numbered by my father and may not be in correct order.
Also, Dr. Thomas Lahusen notes that my grandfather's mention of the border station as "Okhotsk" is incorrect as "there are no railway lines (and still are not) to that place." He notes that "the passport indicates that they had a visa to cross the Soviet/Manchukuo border at Manzhuli, and then travel to the port city of Antung. So they must have taken the boat from there."