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Ida Skubiejska

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
in 1945
Experiences:

Interview Summary:

Ida was born in Bendzin, Poland to Polish parents. Her mother was a descendant of the famous Rabbi Eybuszys centuries before. Her paternal grandfather managed a big estate and the family lived in a large house. Her father had an economics degree. Her mother studied in Warsaw. They met and married in 1914 and settled in Cracow. Her father was taken Prisoner of War in WWI. After the war he became Director of Exports in the Institute of Foreign Trade in Warsaw and the family lived in Bendzin. Ida had a younger brother. She attended state school and then the University of Cracow (Jagiellonian) to study Geography, Zoology and Philosphy. She gained her degree after 5 years. She had a Liberal upbringing and never attended Shul. She received Hebrew lessons in the RI time at school. She would have gone on to take a PhD if war had not started. 

With the outbreak of war, she and her sister fled to Lvov, where they stayed for 1 year. Then they were taken to Siberia to the Tiger Woods. She was then given the opportunity to join the Polish army as a nurse and underwent training in the Southern Urals in Buzuluk. She was posted in 1941 to Juzar, South of Tashkent in Uzbekistan to a small hospital where people were dying everywhere. She was there for 7 months. She then was sent with a section of the Polish army to Krasnovots on the Caspian Sea in August 1941. They took a ship called Pahlevi with the British army to Iran and she stayed 1 year 2 months in Tehran in a small section of the British hospital reserved for Poles. There was an agency of the Palestine Jewish Community in Tehran and she was asked to accompany as a Red Cross nurse a number of c200 Polish children by ship to Palestine. They became known as the Tehran children. They took the Ascheinius ship, Oct-Nov 1943 and sailed though the Persian Gulf to Palestine. She worked in the Imperial Army Hospital looking after wounded Polish soldiers in Kfar Bilu for 8-9 months and then in May 1944 they were evacuated by train to Cairo, where they went sight seeing and by boat, the Rinchi, to England in the biggest convoy of ship to arrive in GB without 1 casualty. They stopped in Gibraltar on the way and celebrated D-Day. Ida was posted to Bridge of Earn to a small Polish section of a hospital and met and married her husband there, a Polish Catholic army officer, on 2 June 1945. She then worked in the recovery section of Carnoystie in Angus, North of Dundee. After she was demobbed they moved to London. Her husband worked for the Polish Embassy and Ida taught geography at Edmonton Technical College and at Shoreditch Technical College. Her husband later became an Accountant for Remploy. They decided they were too old to have children but were active in helping many people. Ida joined the Liberal synagogue, the Jewish Literary Society and the Council of Christians and Jews. After retirement they moved to Dalgetti Bay, Scotland and after her husband died she moved to Edinburgh. 

When Hitler- started rising, don’t forget, we lived 10 kilometres on the Polish side from Germany. And since there was horrific unemployment in Germany, people used to come over and whoever could employ and help them, they did. But from nothing, you could feel some sort of something was growing. All of a sudden people used to come from the countryside, demanding things or grabbing things or cursing, openly cursing.

It was a fantastic voyage [on the British ship with the Tehran Children], surrounded by the royal navy all the way round. This was a ship called Ascheinius which belonged to a Liverpool, they were not passenger liner ships, they only took some passengers. I think about 20 or 25 or…It was a big ship, quite a big ship, but not a passenger one. So most of the passengers, most of the people were housed in the hold but made very, very comfortable. And allowed during the day on decks for fresh air. They had lots of entertainment and all the rest of it. And to come to think of it that was October, November ’43. The Final Solution was in full spring in Europe and these people were enjoying a beautiful voyage, surrounded by the royal navy, in a comfortable ship, being fed like kings and queens and really wonderful food, and all the older ones and the less well off, less well healthy, were housed in comfortable cabins. And ate with the captains and the officers and everybody and treated like VIPs.

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@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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IS: Mother, father, Ida (aged 6), sister Helena, Cracow, 1920