Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Vera Gissing - April 22, 2006

Russian Takeover of Prague

As long as you brought up it up, what is your religious--if any--your religious feeling?

I'm proud to be a Jew. I would never deny I was Jewish. But I had mixed feelings and often asked myself for years, "Who am I? What am I?" And then in 1968, when Dub?ek was in, in power and Czechoslovakia was joyous and happy, I was sent by the BBC to do a program on what the Czech woman was expecting from the freer, brighter future. And I was there--for the first time I was there from 1949, which was when I, you know, ran away for the second time to England. And I was absolutely overwhelmed how patriotic I felt, how at one with the people I felt. I felt even more uh, emotional when my two dau...because my two daughters were with me. One was six years old, the other was uh, ten years old. And it was while I was there on this task I mentioned that the Russian tanks rolled in, and the Prague Spring was over. I'll never forget riding in a friend's car through Wenceslas Square, and there were Russian tanks some of them burnt out and people lining the streets, looking like they did look when I saw the Germans marched in, because their country again was no longer ours. It was the most dreadful feeling. And then suddenly my eleven year old daughter put her arms around me, she said, "Mummy, now I know--now I feel how you must have felt when you were my age and saw the Germans march." And it was such a moment--such an important moment because then there was a tremendous bond from that day.

That's very perceptive.

Yes, and uh, it was uh, instead of, instead of uh, broadcasting what the Czech woman was expecting from the brighter future, I uh, had the task of telling them what the nation had to put up with now.

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