Ruth Edwards

Ruth Edwards was born in Vienna in 1926. Her parents were from Russia and Poland. Her father emigrated to Austria after the First World War with his father and her mother came as a child with her family. Her mother had four brothers, including a doctor and a lawyer. Both of Ruth's parents were from orthodox families but after marriage her mother was not as strict. Her father ran a small business. Her maternal grandmother did most of their cooking and her grandfather delivered it to their house. They were poor and lived in a flat without running water or an indoor toilet, which was located in the yard. They lived in the 20th district of Vienna in the Brigittagasse. 


Ruth was an only child. Her mother became very ill after a subsequent stillbirth. She attended the local junior and secondary school and a Hebrew School. Her father davened (prayed) in Machsikei Hadass and she attended the children’s service in Kluckygasse.


When Jews were forbidden to attend non-Jewish school, Ruth began attending a Jewish School some distance away. She did not remember any change in her district with the Anschluss and her first encounter with Nazism was the imprisonment of her father in Dachau during the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht) 1938. He was released after her mother obtained a visa for Shanghai. Her mother arranged for Ruth to go to her father’s relations in Manchester and she left on 14 February 1939. 


Ruth immediately started Grecian St School and picked up English quickly. Her relations bought her all of the things she needed while attending school. Meanwhile, her parents obtained visas for Yugoslavia and went to Zagreb. 


Ruth was evacuated with the school and stayed with a non-Jewish family until December 1939. She left school after eighteen months and was expected to work for her family in the house and in their wallpaper shop. They did not support her wish for further education and she remained in menial work for seven years. In 1946 she left them for her aunt and uncle who had moved to Macclesfield and there she was free to live her own life. She attended Austria House, the cinema, the Ritz on Sunday afternoons where there was a refugee table, night school and worked in an office. She was happy and she met her husband Sidney Edwards at this time. He was a refugee from Vienna and he had served in the British army. They married in 1949 in Sabrina St Shul.


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@ Refugee Voices 2019