I went to Bradford first to secure the job. Irene’s papers weren’t quite ready so she came 6 weeks afterwards. I still remember, I had never crossed the Channel of course. I went with the train to Holland and then with the boat over to Dover, then to London. In London some of those committee ladies expected you (assembly of Jewish Refugees) and they would put you on the other train – well I was going to Bradford.
She put me on the train to Bradford. I remember very vividly the man who usually waves the green flag came into my compartment and looked after me and brought me a cup of tea. Because I really was worried if my seventeen shillings which I had at that time (out of Germany – Nazis Bank Regulations) – that was all you could take with you – would pay for a cup of tea. But he really was very nice and he spent a lot of time. My English was not really all that good but I had some private lessons in Germany. I could understand but I couldn’t speak very well.
Eventually I arrived in Bradford. The people who I went to was a Doctors house with four children. They all were very nice. The children were well behaved and we were treated very nicely, They always had two maids. So they got rid of their English maids and Irene and I moved in.
When Irene arrived and we hardly knew it each other, we hit it off straight away and we have been friends ever since. I think Irene I would say is the closest friend I ever had. We never had any arguments and also we both stayed together for almost 7 years day and night.
One of my cousin’s (Hilde) went to Manchester and she was there in a household.
Occasionally we would go over to Manchester and visit her, it was a nice day out. And we kept contact with all our other cousins – in Israel, South Africa, because those were the only people we had.
The mail from Germany was difficult. It was all very well until war broke out and then of course we could not write any more. We wrote to somebody in Holland and the person in Holland forwarded the letters to Germany and also Augsburg and vice versa so were at least in touch with each other, and also we could send some Red Cross messages (maximum) 25 words.
I think it was about a year that Irene and Hans were courting when they got married and Irene and I went down to London for the wedding because Hans had an aunt in London who arranged the wedding. We had a very nice time. Unfortunately after the wedding Hans was straight away posted to India, which was good for me because I didn’t lose the company of Irene and she was glad still to have my company. So very little changed in our life even although Irene was married.
I think I got married two years later (1946) , but we were still together. We had to change our job and we did some covers outside the town where we had to do some travelling but we coped with those things very well.
And there were some other people very near us because Mrs Gibson had a habit sometimes to say at 9.00pm would you like to go out for a couple of hours and of course we never refused. First of all we were two of us and one gets used to walking in the dark with our torches. Of course the news from Germany got more and more difficult once Holland had fallen (1940.) So we couldn’t get any letters anymore. All what we had then was Red Cross messages which was really very little. We all kept in touch with each other so if one got a message we notified all the other ones that our parents were alright until in 1943 we all got a message saying that they were moving to Poland and they were moving away with great confidence in God. It was a very sad message and that was the last that we heard from them.
By that time with all the atrocities and things one was almost numb with messages and it’s hard to explain how it really affected us. It was also very good that while we were working we were it took us all our energy and we were very busy doing our jobs and looking after ourselves. We had very little time to think about things. When you came home at night you were exhausted and some of the things did not register as much as they would have now if you lived a normal life.
I only heard after the war from a lady that came back from Auschwitz ( Concentration Camp) who was in the same transport and she was a very efficient shorthand typist. When she arrived in Auschwitz they took her aside and she got into the office and this saved her and she gave us the report about all our parents, because it was my parents and all my fathers brothers and their wives, all went to Auschwitz. Only the children of every family was saved. And that’s why we have always been all very very close because we were the remainder of the family, except for the people in South Africa where the whole family managed to get out to South Africa.
Click here to view the last exchange of letters between Pat and her parents.