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Natalie Huss-Smickler

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
22 September 1938
Interview number:


Dr Bea Lewkowicz

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Natalie Huss-Smickler was born in Vienna in 1912. Her father had a textile shop. She went to a commercial college and worked as a secretary. Her brother managed to get a domestic visa for her in 1938 and visa for her other brother. On her journey leaving Germany she was saved by a group of nuns who told her not to leave the train. All the other Jews on the train were taken off. Her employers then arranged a visa for her parents.


She first worked for a Jewish doctor at his house in Kensington, where she worked very hard. She left and became a nanny with another family, who helped to get her parents out. Her two brothers were interned and sent to Australia on the HMT Dunera. Both brothers died on the way back to the UK as their ship was torpedoed by the Japanese. She was married in 1948.


Full Interview


I always did feel an outsider, being a refugee. But thank God, I have always been independent; I didn’t have to go to a charity or things like that. People should really try to get on with one another. Life is really too short to be otherwise. One should try to get on with one another, and be kind, and be good.

It was a doctor’s house with 23 rooms, including the surgeries. That’s what I had to do. That’s what I had to do. And, after seven weeks, my hands were shaking, then it was really-, I couldn’t do that. It was such hard work. It was from 8 o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night, with one hour lunch-time and nothing else, so it was very, very hard going. And, I’m sorry to say, I don’t know if I should say it, I’m sorry to say, my brother phoned my employer to say that it’s such hard, long hours and so on, and she said: ‘Well, if it’s too much for her, I send her back to Hitler.’ True. And I left. I had to leave. My next job was as a nanny with a little child. And there we were friends, they were so kind, they were really friends to me and to my brother, he came to visit, and they helped me to bring my parents over.

My two brothers were sent to Australia on the Dunera. And they were two years interned there, and then they were sent back. England realised they made a mistake, sending refugees abroad to Australia and to Canada. And my two brothers came back but, unfortunately, on the way back, the ship was torpedoed by Japanese and sunk and they never reached England. After survival, after all that, they didn’t come back to England. We were expecting them and then we got information from the War Office, War Office or Home Office, War Office, saying that the ship was torpedoed and they are presumed dead. That was it.

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