Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Vera Gissing - April 22, 2006

Sharing Story II

And it was at that time that I was interviewed for, for this--for that program and also when they, they--the Woman's Hour decided to do a, sort of, a feature on it as well. I was interviewed by the Welsh BBC and they said, when I sort of got--when I uh, answered their questions as I've been an...answering you, they uh, they asked me--they said to me, "Vera what did you do the day war broke uh, the war--there was the end of the war. What did you do? Did you celebrate?" And I said, "Oh yes, we celebrated," and I said, "but you know, I can't exactly remember, but because this is such a special occasion, you being here, I'll tell you exactly." And I went upstairs and I opened the box, which held my diaries, which I hadn't opened for forty years. And I took it down, I found the relevant date and I translated it exactly, and they were sitting there and tears were streaming down their face, and said, "Vera, we studied the Holocaust but this is something completely different--from you we've learned the feel of it. You've got to have those diaries translated, you know, you've got to. It's a--it's--it, it--you, you promise? Promise you would." And I said, "No I won't promise." They looked at me shocked. I said, "I am a literary translator, you know." So they said, "What you waiting for?" And I said--but I explained it would be very hard for me to go back for them and really--because, because of what happened with my parents. But you know, it was very ther...therapeutic once I started writing. I used to write through the night in my study overlooking open fields, the moon above, and I felt absolutely close to them, and that's how I wrote the book.

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