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Susi Linton

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
18 April 1939
Interview number:


Dr Rosalyn Livshin

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Susi Linton (nee Braun) was born in Berlin in 1920 to parents from Berlin and Stargard (Danzig). Her father had one brother, who had 3 children. Her father was traditional and he became a teacher. He served in WWI. Her mother was the youngest of 3 sisters. They came from a very comfortable family and had a traditional upbringing. Her parents married in 1919 and Susi was the only child. They lived in the Hansaviertel area of Berlin in a first floor apartment on Levetzow Strasse. She had a very happy childhood and she and her parents mixed well with their non Jewish neighbours. Her father belonged to the Odd Fellows and Susi attended a German Jewish Youth Group. She attended the Kleist Lyceum near Levetzow Strasse. She was aware of the burning of the Reichstag. With the Hitler's seizure of power she describes the worsening of the Jewish situation leading to her being expelled from school, her father receiving notice and having to leave their apartment. Her father took a position with the largest Jewish Old Aged Home in Berlin and they were given an apartment there. Susi went on a domestic training course. Whilst on holiday in 1937 she met someone who introduced her to her brother and the two fell in love. 

In 1938 she witnessed the burning of the shul near them and her parents decided they must take steps to send her away. Her father was friendly with Rosenthal the head of the Jewish Community and he gave them application forms to send Susi to England as a domestic. She gained a place at a Liverpool Domestic College for one month and left Germany on 17 April 1939. She travelled via Ostend to Dover to London, where she was met by a representative of Bloomsbury House. They put her in a boarding house until the date for her departure to Liverpool. 

She was well received in Liverpool and after a month was placed as a housekeeper in the house of a vicar in Liverpool. She was accepted as one of the family and enjoyed working there. She kept in touch with them until they died. Soon after the outbreak of war she had to leave Liverpool since she was an enemy alien and she came to Manchester. She was well received by the Refugee Committee who placed her with a Jewish family on Waterpark Rd. There she was treated like a skivvy and was made to eat scraps alone on the kitchen. After 8 weeks she complained to the Refugee Committee, who place with a second and then third Jewish family. Each time was the same poor treatment. She found no sympathy or understanding. 

She then applied to the Refugee Committee to let her train in nursing. They found her a place to do nursing in South Manchester. Each weekend she went to Kershaw House where she made many friends. On qualifying in 1942/3 the committee found her a job with a Jewish family in South Manchester and she was very happy there. She stayed with them until after the war when they moved to Southport. Susi then took a job with Manchester Corporation Day Nursery and she took a flat in Whalley Range. Then she was offered a position in Lymm with the Delamere Home for Children and went there in Jan 1949. In the meantime she met her husband at a dance and by June 1949 they were married. He came from Bavaria and was 10 years older than her. They married at the Great Synagogue and a friend paid for a dinner for friends afterwards. 


Full Interview


We had good holidays, you know. The surroundings of Berlin are very beautiful, the lakes- Berlin is a very green city. It was. I don’t know how it is now, but it was a very green city. And we had a good life. We had visitors once a week and we were invited another weekend. And it was very, very normal.

When I really became aware, because my father talked a lot- The radio was on all the time, and then Hindenburg was finished and Hitler took over. I knew what was going on. But I think when you’re young it doesn’t make that impact. The impact came with the three things happening - my father having to leave the school, I had to leave my school, and we had to be thrown out of our apartment. That really- that physically- that affected me very much, obviously. It was a completely new life.

All I can say, I don’t wish this to happen to any other generation, what we had to go through. To have peace, here and in the whole world. This is a big, big tall order.

When the Reichstag was on fire, that was also a very strange day, the 27th of February. I do remember the date, because it was my auntie’s birthday, who lived at the other side of town, of Berlin, not very far from the Reichstag actually. We were there, well, this was sort of the custom of the Germans - big afternoon tea, coffee and cake. And we were going to my auntie, I think it was a weekday, it was the 27th of February 1934, I think. Was it ’34 or ’33? Anyway, we were there, sitting with my aunties, and she had one or two friends there, having coffee and talking and putting in the presents and whatever, when we heard, all of a sudden, an awful lot of fire-engines. So, my father said, ‘That is something big, that is something big going on’. Then he put the radio on. And they said, ‘The Reichstag is on fire.’ So my father said right away, ‘We go home.’ We stopped, we went home immediately. We went on a tram, there were no buses, on the tram. We went home immediately. And then, of course, they blamed this Jewish fellow for doing it and then things really started. That really was the beginning of the end then.

I got the news much later [of her parents' & fiance's deaths]. You see, to live in England and not to know what’s going on, it was a nightmare, living a nightmare, morning, noon and night.

I fell madly in love. I was seventeen and he was twenty-three, a man of the world. And that was it. I would have certainly married him had I not-. But he perished as well. He didn’t get out. The few letters and that was the end of it.

Crystal Night, I mean, that was absolute the end. Where we lived then, at the Jewish old age home, we could hear what was going on. I saw the synagogue burn and we were in a state of a shock. How could this happen? How could this happen? We should have known better. We should have expected this to happen, what’s been going on beforehand, but we didn’t quite. It was a disbelief. How could this happen? To Germans? We were German citizens, born in Germany, for generations.

I saw sights which no young girl should ever see. And I think this sort of thing, that never leaves you, that is there. And I paid for it with my health, later on.

I found out that two or three girls were in the same area, refugee girls, working. And we were all in the same boat. They all complained the same as I did, how badly treated they were. We got together on our day off. We used to go to Lyon’s Corner House and sat all afternoon with a cup of coffee, crying. We were-. That was really unbelievable. And I was not frightened of work, I was healthy, I was young, I didn’t mind the work, but I did mind-, I objected to the way I was treated.

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