Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Vera Gissing - April 22, 2006

Meeting Czech President Benes

He responded.

Yes, he responded. I was thirteen, not quite thirteen then. And uh, then I heard--because I was terribly homesick for Czech music--anything that was Czech. Czech bread, I missed Czech bread. I hated English bread, it was just like a sponge. And, and uh, anyway, when I heard that there were going to be the Czech soldiers and air men singing and dancing in the main theater in Liverpool, I begged my foster father to let me go and see them. And he said, "Oh no," because by then there were ??? you know, dropping and I said, "Listen, if the Czech president isn't afraid oh, surely you're not going to be afraid of let me go." So anyway, he came with me. And I took this little visiting card uh, with me and during the interval I marched up to the box where they were sitting with the, the mayor of Liverpool and there were two Czech soldiers outside, you know, standing sort of with their guns looking very serious. And I said uh, I gave them the visiting card and said, "Will you please tell the president that Vera Diamant wishes to speak to him." And, of course, they look at me, you know. They went in and, you know, he remembered my letter and he asked me to sit with them for the rest of the performance and said, "This young lady," he said to his wife, "she wrote me such a lovely letter, you know." And he started quizzing me--was I happy, was I looked after, what I missed most. And I said, "Well, of course, my parents..." And, and then he said, "Was there--is there anything else?" And he said, um, um, and I said, "Yes, I miss not being in a Czech school or not learning--carrying on learning Czech. And, and, he said, "But, you know, there is a Czech school for children like you are, and it's a bilingual school and we founded it on the, after Dunkirk. And, um...

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