Evelyn B

Evelyn Banko

Evelyn Diamont was born January 21, 1936 in Vienna, Austria. Her father, Joseph,
was an engineer and her mother, Frieda, was a housewife. In March of 1938, the Nazi
marched into Austria and annexed it as part of Germany. Hitler’s persecution and murder
of Jews was rampant in Vienna and after being tipped off that Joseph was to be deported
within twenty-four hours, Joseph gathered then two year old Evie and Frieda and fled to
Riga, Latvia.

When the Russians invaded Latvia, Evie and her family took the Trans-Siberian Railroad
across thousands of miles to the eastern side of Russia. When Evie’s family reached
China, the typhoid and cholera epidemic was severe. Arriving in Japan, they were able
to board one of the last ships to leave Japan for America before Pearl Harbor. Everyone
became seasick during the journey and they were not used to the Japanese food they
received on the ship.

The trip to America took about six weeks, but eventually they arrived in Vancouver,
British Columbia and then Seattle, Washington. They were given the choice of going to
Portland or San Francisco, so they settled on Portland. In Portland, they were put up in an
apartment in the Jewish community where Evie attempted to make friends, but found that
the language barrier was a challenge. Evie was four years old at that time and her mother
was able to job sewing on a power machine to help provide for the family. Her father
became a janitor and was able to take care of Evie during the daytime, until he was able
to open up a service station for Texaco in 1941. After the war he took a job as an auto
parts salesman with Niehoff. Evie went from preschool through high school in Portland
and graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in elementary education and
taught in Portland for thirty three years, marrying and raising two children.

Although Evie and her family survived the war and the trip to America, many of her
family did not survive. Those members that were lucky enough to have escaped from
Hitler ended up scattered across different parts of the world. In time Evie was able to
reconnect with a few of her family members but her uncle and aunt and grandparents
were murdered by Hitler.

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