Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Vera Gissing - April 22, 2006


And you, you went to school on a regular basis every day.

Oh yes.

A Czech school, and participated in Christian religious education--you went to the, went to the classes. Did you have non-Jewish friends?


Did you have Gentile friends?

Um, well, you know, in our town there were only about three Jewish families, you see. My best friend was a Catholic. Um, I adored my two cousins, the uh, the young boys, you know, who were my uh, mother's uh, brother's chil...children. And they were, of course, Jewish. And I did go to synagogue with them, you know, if we were in Prague. And, as I said, to us uh, it didn't matter so much where we worshiped, you know. We were Czechs first and Jews by race.

So this is Masaryk that you're, you're talking about.


He was the hero.

Masaryk wasn't just a hero, he was a very learned man, he was incredibly fair to one and all, respected throughout the world. We were so proud of him, we used to call him Tatíček Masaryk, which means Father Masaryk. And in every classroom throughout the land there were big portraits of him, you know. And if it was his birthday, you know, there was--it was, it was magical, magical life. We were such a unified community--if only the world could be like that today.

Was there any anti-Semitism that you remember?

Not at that time. I, I don't uh, recall any and my sister was four years my senior, so she was sort of sixteen and a half by the time, you know, we went to England. Oh no, she was just under sixteen, because it was up to...


...sixteen that we could take. And I asked her, because she would have known. And uh, and she said she never encountered it.

Hm. Well, it was Masaryk.

It was Masaryk. And even after he, he died, his, sort of, pupil, Eduard Benes...


...took over. And, I mean, he wasn't Masaryk. You know, nobody could have uh, equaled um, equaled his popularity. But uh, but he was a good man.


Yes, he was a good man and uh, uh, he was respected.

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