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15 October 2014
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A Fragment of Memory

by epsomandewelllhc

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
epsomandewelllhc
People in story: 
Herta
Location of story: 
Kindertransport
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4539297
Contributed on: 
25 July 2005

The author of this story has understood the rules and regulations of the site and has agreed that this story can be entered on the People's War web site.

I came to England from Vienna on the “KinderTransport just after my ninth birthday. Being an only child, I had heard much adult conversation and was well aware that there were many problems and that it was necessary for me to go. I had learnt English for some years and my parents had done their best to make the journey into a “big adventure.”

We left Vienna numbered and labelled and travelled by train to the Hook of Holland and then by boat to Harwich. My memory of the train journey is hazy but on the boat I was allocated a cabin with another little girl and we were given chamber pots to use! Since nothing would induce me to use one with a strange child in the room, I wandered off to look for a loo, quite forgetting to note my cabin number. The powers that be finally returned me to my proper slot and we landed at Harwich in the morning.

During that day we were fed and I learnt to sing “Daisy, Daisy” give me your answer do” and discovered that when spoken to slowly, I could understand English. The next morning, I wandered around for some time with my brush and comb looking for someone to do my hair — with long plaits — I’d never done it myself — and found someone who kindly did it. I also decided to give myself a wash, the first since leaving home.

Later, I was called to meet a man and woman and told that I was going to stay with them. We travelled by train to London and taxi across London — I was surprised to see large red brick buildings, I had only ever seen grey or painted ones — then on by train to Somerset. The man, woman and their children became my family and still are and eventually I was legally adopted.

My parents did not survive the war, my father died in Vienna in 1940, mother at Dachau. Of my extended family, only those who managed to get abroad, survived.

I realise that my short stay in the camp at Harwich was quite untypical. Many children were there or at other centres for weeks or months.

I was one of the lucky ones.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - A Fragment of Memory

Posted on: 25 July 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Herta

I always feel very moved when I read stories such as yours. So many famlies torn apart and destroyed!

Kindest regards,

Peter

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