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Ruth Webber

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
18 November 1938
Experiences:

Interview Summary:

I remember I had Erika, my doll. I remember we went on a boat. We must have had a cabin, because I remember a table, and you lifted the table up and it was a wash stand. I thought that was absolute magic. When I say I remember, I now remember remembering it but I haven't been told. These are not things I've been told. This I remember. I remember we arrived in a London station. I don't know which station it was. My uncle Alfons met us. And that's all I remember of the journey.

Caerau. It's a little mining village in Glamorgan. Very small, very friendly. We were all put in a local hall. They gave us orange juice and then people chose. “I'll have that child”, “I'll have that child”. And the family that took me, tell me- I was the last one chosen, because they thought I was mentally deficient. Because I didn't speak English. And I was really lucky. I mean, really lovely family.

We were advised- everyone was advised not to speak German in public in the war. And so I was ashamed of having German-speaking parents. I'm sure this is a very common story that you've heard from lots of people. And I forgot my German because I wasn't living with my parents, I heard English all day at school and at home. My parents, obeying the rules, spoke to me in English - very accented English, but still English. And then, and for many years, I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be English. I didn't want to have anything to do with being somebody who was different, despised - what have you. I’m a bit ashamed of that, but that's how it was.We were advised- everyone was advised not to speak German in public in the war. And so I was ashamed of having German-speaking parents. I'm sure this is a very common story that you've heard from lots of people. And I forgot my German because I wasn't living with my parents, I heard English all day at school and at home. My parents, obeying the rules, spoke to me in English - very accented English, but still English. And then, and for many years, I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be English. I didn't want to have anything to do with being somebody who was different, despised - what have you. I’m a bit ashamed of that, but that's how it was.

Yes, always [had her German doll, Erika]. I also had an English doll, which I called Margaret Rose. Shows how English I’d become. I didn't like her as much though. Erika was the one. [Did they get on?] We had dolls’ tea parties. I know that!

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@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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