Edith was born in 1924 in Bochum (née Edith Ernestine Kleczewski). Her father, Samuel Kleczewski, owned a show shop in Castrop-Rauxel. He was in his sixties and a widower when he married Edith’s mother, Gertrud Hollander in 1916. Edith recalls fragments from her happy childhood: holidays to her aunt near Breslau, her father spoiling her, going to synagogue in Castrop-Rauxel, her special Shabbat clothes. She does not remember things in great detail, cannot recall her school or home. When it came to emigrating, Palestine and England where considered. It was decided that Edith should go on a Kindertransport because her mother had a cousin who had already emigrated to London. After arriving in Liverpoool Street Station she was taken to the Caldecotte Community in Maidstone run by the Quakers. She remembers that a rabbi came once a week to talk to the Jewish children. Shen then left to stay with her mother’s cousin in Swiss Cottage. She did not go to school in England and started working in a nursery in Pond Street (NW3). After some time she moved out and rented a room in Belsize Avenue. Very shortly after she met her future husband and got married in 1943. Her first child was born in 1944 and her second child was born in 1948. The family settled eventually in Hendon. Although they were not observant, Edith’s husband felt that it was important for their son to marry a Jewish girl.
Edith’s parents did not survive and she is not sure what happened to them. Her grand-daughter said that there was some Red Cross correspondence from Terezin. Edith points out that she feels bad about not trying to find out more information about the parents. Edith emphasises throughout the interview that she had a happy life and that she did not want to dwell on the past. She is also grateful to the AJR for helping her go to the Sobell Centre twice a week. She calls the AJR and the Sobell Centre her lifeline.
Reluctant to be interviewed and slightly worried about not able to remember better. Grand-daughter Tamara was in the room and sometimes helped to jog Edith’s memory.
Castrop-Rauxel. Kindertransport. Caldecotte Community in Maidstone. Swiss Cottage. Importance of AJR.