Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Vera Gissing - April 22, 2006

Czech Government-in-exile

Where did they live?

They lived in Bootle, which is a rather slummy part of Liverpool. But then, then uh, when war started and uh, and I was actually evacuated to yet another family, and together with their daughter Dorothy. Uh, then later on they uh, rented a house um, sort of halfway between Liverpool and Preston so that we could all be together again. But when uh, after Dunkirk, when the British troops had to flee back to England and there were many Czech and Slovak troops who were fighting um, in France at the side of the British--fighting the Germans, and they also fled to England. They were actually headed by our second president, President Benes...


...who was now president-in-exile, who managed to get out with uh, uh, several of his uh, of the members of the government and he set up a proper sort of a government corps uh, here in Britain after Dunkirk.

If I'm remembering--Benes wanted to fight the Germans when they came in.

Oh yes. Benes was very, all for it. He, um, because we had the best fortifications in, in the whole of Europe. And, I mean--where Sudetenland was. And uh, it was tremendous fortification against the uh, Germans. And then we had to open them, you know, let them have it. And um, that's when all the refugees poured into Prague. But it wasn't that, that uh, Benes let them have it. Uh...

It was the British...

...he was forced--yes--by Britain that he has to cede the Sudetenland to preserve world peace. But, of course, he didn't preserve world peace but he did buy England and France a bit of time.

Time. Peace in our time.

That's right, as you say. Waving that little white piece of paper, you know. Mm, didn't last very long, did it?

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn