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Marion Smith

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
September 1938
Experiences:

Interview Summary:

Marion Smith (née Lehrburger) was born to prosperous, assimilated parents in Bogenhausen, Munich. Her father helped run the family factory; her mother was originally from Berlin. In the 1920s Marion and her family moved to Berlin, where she was educated at a good secondary school, and did not experience antisemitism before 1933. In the 1930s she worked as a sales assistant and spent a period in Prague, where her brother Egon Larsen (Lehrburger) was a journalist.

 

Marion emigrated to Britain in September 1938 on a permit for domestic service, although she disliked this type of work. During and after the war she worked for the Foreign Office (Political Warfare Executive) on the re-education of German prisoners of war. She married Lewis Smith, a British Jew originally from an Orthodox East End background, and they lived in North West London. Marion taught evening classes in German at college.

My brother had to leave Germany. One of the first things they did, they expelled people from the Reichsschrifttumskammer, which he had to become a member of in order to write. You couldn’t become a member if you were Jewish. So he went to Prague because that was the only place where you could go and write in German. He already had a name, so he went over to the Prager Tagblatt.

I had the domestic permit. We had to clean the rooms every day - although there was nobody in them. I also had to clear the grates, then the butler came after and laid the fire. The butler and the cook were the most important people. We were supposed to be in the servants’ hall with the others. So if I sat in the room, I had either the choice of sitting there in the cold or joining the others in the servants’ room.

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