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Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Gertrude Feitl (nee Glattau) was born in Vienna in 1916. Her parents were from Czechoslovakia. Her mother had to look after younger step siblings after her father remarried. Her mother ran a food shop and her father worked with cars. They lived in the 16th district of Vienna. Gertrude had a younger brother, Alfred. She attended a non Jewish school and then an office course but could not find a job and so helped her mother in the shop. She experienced antisemitism in Austria. She came from a fully secular family and kept no traditions. She remembered after the Anschluss Jews being forced to scrub the streets and her mother’s shop was looted and closed down. Her father left for France and her brother to Holland. They were both killed. Her mother survived Theresienstadt.
Gertrude came to England on a domestic permit and worked for a farmer and his wife for one week. They mistreated her and slapped her and she ran away. A kind shopkeeper called the police and she was placed in a children’s home for a short time and then put with a Jewish family in Liverpool where she was happy. She then applied to do nursing and was sent to Edinburgh. Then she went to Leicester. She was instrumental in bringing over her boyfriend Franz Feitl just before the war and they married in Blackburn. After internment her husband took a job with an Aircraft factory and the couple lived in Accrington. Gertrude did not go out to work during the war and she had a baby, Margaret in 1945. After the war her husband went to work in the markets and the family discovered that Gertrude’s mother and Franz's father had survived. Gertrude’s mother came to England and Franz’s father returned to Vienna. Gertrude and her family often went to visit family in Vienna after the war.
When you get into this country like I did, you don’t look around and say ‘will I like it? Do I like it?‘ No. I have to be here, that’s it. I took things as they came. I have to be satisfied.
I had nowhere, what I had, what they allowed me only for cleaning, I can only go somewhere for cleaning, and I took that job. I’ve never done a lot of cleaning, but I took the job. And I had to be for quite a while in cleaning job.
Because I didn’t do exactly what they expected, she started fighting me and gave me a smack. I thought, ‘Well that’s enough now’, that was after a week, I gave her a hook, like this, and she flew in that corner and I run up in my room, just took what I thought I need for the moment, and I run away. And then I run away and I didn’t know where I run, you know, and I thought, ‘What am I doing now?’