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Diana Davis

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
June 1939
Experiences:

Interview Summary:

Diana Davis nee Goldina Trauring was born in 1927 in Gotha. Her mother had a clothes shop in the groundfloor of the building where they lived and her father was trading in wholesale wines. She had an older and a younger brother. Her parents were born in Poland and did not have German citizenship and after Kristallnacht, her father was taken and deported to Poland. She recalls when the Gestapo came to their flat and took the father away. Her mother hid her older brother in the attic and the Gestapo did not find him. Diana says that she has never told anyone about her experiences of Kristallnacht when the Gestapo came to her house.

 

In June 1939 Diana and her brother Nathan came on the Kindertransport to the UK. Her father came back from Poland to see them off. She was sponsored by Leonard Montefiore but did not meet this man. She went to stay with a family of her cousin in Highgate. Her brother went to live in a hostel in the Finchley Road.  She was evacuated to Buckinghamshire (end of August 1939). After nine months came back to London. Went to Habonim camp in Exmouth (1940-1942), came to London and went to another Habonim hostel in Wales, Cefn Coed near Merthyr Twdfil. Then moved to hostel in Willsden (1943). Then went to another hostel in Willesden and then shared a flat with a friend in Willesden.

 

She worked as a secretary and as a nursery teacher. Her brother became ill very soon after they came to the UK and contacted TB. He lived for the next 15 years in hospitals and died in the mid fifties. Diana does not know exactly what happened to her parents. She thinks that they moved to Cracow and that her mother had another baby boy. She does not know in which concentration camp they died but believes that her father survived longer than her mother, as a letter from her father survived which asks for help for him and says that it is ‘too late for Minna and Solomon’. Diana never tried to find out more information about the fate of her parents.

 

When she was 18 she met and married Michael David and they had two children.  Her husband was a research chemist and they went for some time to the USA. They came back, as Diana felt she wanted to be close to her ill brother. The family settled in Brentwood. When her children went to secondary school, Diana became a fashion buyer. She is very active in her local community in Brentwood and is not affiliated to the AJR or any organisation relating to the Kindertransport. She repeats throughout the interview that she has never spoken about her experiences and that many of her friends do not know that she came to the UK on a Kindertransport. She has been back in Germany many times but has never visited Gotha.  

They came on Kristallnacht. They took my father and my grandfather away. And they- my mother hid my brother in the attic, because he was fifteen. And... They came and searched the house, but they didn't find him. And we were- my younger brother and I were too young to- to be taken away. But they would have taken my brother had they found him- I think. ...So he came to England with me.

But I still remember the banging on the door: “Juden raus!” I still- I can still hear it. You know they banged on the door and screamed, “Juden raus! Juden raus! And then they took my father and my grandfather away. And I- don’t forget, I was eleven! No ten – ten when that happened; I was eleven the following year. So yes, I do remember. But I never have talked about it to my children - ever. And I didn't talk about it to my husband, but I think he had an idea of what went on. But I just couldn't! This is the first time I've talked about it.

[after arriving in London staying with distant relatives] I cried a lot. But fortunately there was this little baby, so I was able to push him around in a pram. And I think they were quite good to me. But of course they didn't speak German, so I had to learn to speak English quickly - and I did.

I remember the end of the war very well. I was with a girlfriend, and we went outside Buckingham Palace with hundreds of other people. And we- Americans, Polish, all kinds of people- and we stood outside Buckingham Palace, cheering. And then the girlfriend and I walked all the way back from Buckingham Palace to Willesden. And we weren't molested or anything. It must have been dark... but nobody molested us.

I never actually found out, except my aunt says she thinks they died in Auschwitz. I- I never- I never went back to Auschwitz. I didn't want to. But somehow my aunt probably found out, and she said, “Put the name up at Yad Vashem.” So I did. I mean, for a while I hoped they’d survived, as you do.

I used to have to go to work at 6 a.m. because I was a probationer. And the bombs were dropping all over the place, each side of me, on the North Circular Road. But I had to get to work. So I just went on walking.

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@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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DD: Travel document