Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zyta Eliahu - February 3, 2008

Life with Foster Family II

Forty-seven. Now the family you were staying with, they knew you were Jewish.

Oh, yes. They, they even took care to connect me with a rabbi who was teaching some children there in Maidstone. He was giving Bible classes to Jewish children. He came from Chatham, which is a nearby town but um, eventually he gave this up, he said--we were only about five or six children--he said it's not enough children for him to come from another town to teach them.

They didn't take you to church or anything like, did they?

No, they were atheists, so...

So, did you still identify yourself as Jewish?

Yes, I did. I mean, I was corresponding with my parents, I knew I was Jewish and I--when the war started in '39 and they didn't want to have too many children at one time in the school because we went to school five days a week. So um, that meant some kids would have to go on Saturday to school and I was upset. I said to my foster mother, I said, "But you know I can't write on Saturday." "It'll, it'll be okay, it's war time." Yes, I knew I was Jewish but I had no contact with Jewish people at all. One time the rabbi came to visit us--came to visit me and that was it.

Do you think that when you were in Czechoslovakia your family--you said they were traditional...


...were they in, in an assimilated family. I mean, Czech Jews were fairly assimilated into the culture.

I think that the Czech Jews that were assimilated, some even--I think Gissing--I think she wrote in her book that they even became converted to Christianity because they thought it would save them from the Germans. It's the, the Czech Jews that had been living one or two generations in Czechoslovakia. They maybe were more assimilated but the Jews who had come in from Poland and other countries to live Czechoslovakia, I don't think they assimilated because they came from a really Jewish background. Because Czechoslovakia was a very a liberal democratic country after the First World War so, that always causes Jews to assimilate more, I think.

Yeah, that's right. And throughout the war you were corresponding with your, with your mother, yes?

I was c...I was corresponding?


I was corresponding with my parents. There was a break of a few months when they were traveling from Bratislava to Palestine and then to Mauritius. But once they were in Mauritius the correspondence--we were corresponding regularly. They only--could only write me good things, they couldn't really tell me how difficult things were and they would tell me about Jewish holidays, when Rosh Hashanah came and Pesach came. My father told me that his family had been living in Nadwórna for five hundred years--living there for a very long time.

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