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Early Pre-War Emigration to Czechoslovakia

I got panicky & my parents to my eternal thankfulness agreed I should emigrate. I didn’t appreciate the full impact till I had children of my own. I was an only child. To say 'You go' must have taken quite something. The only way to come to England was doing domestic jobs. I thought: I will try & look after babies, it will come in useful hopefully one day, which it did. By that time the Nazis were in Prague. You had to have an exit permit, endless trouble to get. I had to go to the Gestapo headquarters. You had to show you paid your dog license, your taxes, your this & your that, it was impossible. I queued up every Wednesday afternoon at the Gestapo headquarters. It took 10 weeks. At one point they threw me down the stairs. That was quite traumatic but I still had to go back. On visit 10 I got in. You were asked for your name. The young SS man said to me in the lift 'Neustadtl'. I remember to this day. 'Wasn’t there a dentist in…' he named a town in Germany. I said 'Yes, that’s my uncle,' a total lie. He said 'He was very good…' They put me in a room which was dark, no windows, nothing. I was sitting there absolutely petrified, for I don’t know how long. Eventually they gave me the permit to leave within a fortnight. If I could have I'd have gone the next day."

"I brought 3 suitcases & a bike which was stolen & a gas mask. Books. My mother gave me a fur coat which I didn’t wear until I knew she was dead, I couldn’t bring myself to. Lot of clothes, very useful. I couldn't have afforded to buy any here. I remember getting onto the train & my mother crying & my father very stern faced trying very hard not to cry. Whenever I see a film where there are parents & a child parting I still cry, I still do. There was a young German soldier in the same compartment. He said 'Why are you crying?' In a nice way, he was quite sympathetic, I am sure he had no idea I was Jewish. I said: because I don’t think I will ever see my parents again. He said 'Oh, nonsense, they’ll come & visit you.' But my father knew.

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