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Marion Lesser

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
5 July 1939
Mode of Arrival:
Kindertransport

Interview Summary:

Marion Lesser (nee Oschitsky) was born in Berlin 1925. She came to the UK in 1939 on the Kinderstransport. She was evacuated with the Westminster Jewish Free School to Wiltshire and stayed with an English family and went to the local school for two years. She came back to London and stayed in a girl’s hostel and boarding house in Walm Lane, Cricklewood. She learned dressmaking and then volunteered for the Land Army in 1943 (as one of the few Jewish girls). She stayed in a hostel with 40 other girls in Cuffley near Hertford. This is where she met her husband who she married in 1946. 

I think I am a better person for it, for the experience of having all this as a background. I don’t consider myself German, I am not German. I would rather be a displaced person. When I think, if I think about, my father was in the First World War in the German army. What did he get? And that he was proud of me having been in the army! That he should witness … there should never be any more wars. My husband was a conscientious objector.

I volunteered for the Women’s Land Army. The office was in Oxford Street, I went in and volunteered, shocked my aunt. She had never heard of a Jewish girl going into the Land Army, but there were one or two. And it was a happier time for me. It was the happiest time for me at that time, to be in the Land Army, to be someone.

[Life in the Land Army] We used to sleep in bunk beds, one up, one down. It was, we had four or five bathrooms and we used to have to fight for those bathrooms. At the end of the day we were filthy dirty because we had to do a lot of heavy work. Threshing, haymaking, harvesting, cutting kale, ditching, all sorts of things. It was good for me at that time, I needed to let my energies go into the right sort of channel

I was evacuated with the Westminster Jewish Faith School, we were sent to Wiltshire. My headmaster was Mr Silverstone. It was a large school so we were divided, I think, into three villages, and every, he was a very kind man, understanding man, but he had an impossible situation, because he had English Jewish children and continental Jewish children and the village people didn’t accept us very well. As far as they were concerned we were Germans, or we were Austrians, so we were the enemy, and I think there were 16 of us from Austria and Germany and we used to get together and gabble away in German until the headmaster separated us and put us into English speaking families, and we soon learned English. We were going to a village school. I was there for two years.

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