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Margaret Simmons

MS: MS 2003
MS: MS 2003

MS: With Cherie the Dachsund, 1924
MS: With Cherie the Dachsund, 1924

MS: Parents Millie and Alex Ballin, ca. 1925 in Nordhausen, Germany
MS: Parents Millie and Alex Ballin, ca. 1925 in Nordhausen, Germany

MS: MS 2003
MS: MS 2003

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
January 1937
Interview number:
Experiences:
4

Interview Summary:

Margaret Simmons grew up in Ellrich am Hartz and Nordhausen. Her father had a textile factory He committed suicide in 1928. She moved to Cologne and married a Christian German. Her husband lost his job because he was married to a Jewess and they decided to get divorced (amicably). Margaret married Erwin Simmons and emigrated with him to the UK in 1937. They had to leave their son behind (her son came to visit her in London in the summer of 1937). They did not see him again until 1945 when he came to live in the UK. She was interned on the Isle of Man in Port Erin, in the Women's Camp (1941-1942).

My parents were not very pleased. But I was determined. Somehow I wanted to get away. I was ready to leave my parents’ house. And my first husband was just the type I liked, sporty and enterprising, entertaining, and so I married and we had quite a - from 1926 to 1935/6, we had a very nice time, a very nice circle of friends. And on one holiday we went to Bad Godesberg, to Rheinhotel Dreesen, at the same time as Hitler with his crew was coming to the hotel, and young Dreesen showed me full of pride the rooms and bathroom he had prepared for Herr Hitler and Goebbels…Yes, 1934. And I remember the morning when Hitler came downstairs and all the guests were assembled in the hall of the hotel. I was standing in front with my little boy in his Bavarian Lederhosen, grey chequered with green cuffs and so on, and Hitler went straight to my son, touched his cheek, and said, ‘Wo kommst Du denn her?’ And John became quite red in his face and said, “von Köln.” Then Hitler disappeared down the stairs…and a photographer was standing outside, photographed Hitler doing his raised arm and just caught me at the steps of the hotel… I never thought that Hitler was anybody to be taken seriously.

We decided on a divorce. Very amicable. We always kept friends, and he even, after the war, visited us here with his second wife and we were always on the best of terms. But, unfortunately, I had to leave John [her son] behind, or Hans Gert as he was called at that time, which was the worst that happened to me. But in a divorce boys go with the father and the girls go with their mother, according to the German law, so I had no chance. The boy even came to visit us here in 1938, no, 1937, in the summer, during his school holidays, and, to my great joy, my mother-in-law phoned and said there was an outbreak of polio in Cologne and the schools were shut for another month, so he was here for about two months in the summer. But then he had to fly home from Croydon Airport, at that time, and I never saw him again until he was 17, after the war, when he came to England.

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