Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Vera Gissing - April 22, 2006

Life Before the War II

How many cats did you have altogether?

Well, we only had one, one, one cat. And the others, as I said, didn't really belong to me. But just before I left for England, that cat got pregnant and my father had threatened, you know, that he drowned the kit...uh, kittens. And this was after the Germans occupied us. And uh, my best friend, Marta--who was very loyal to me--she promised she wouldn't let my father drown the kittens. And I've got a lovely picture of her with the kittens in, in my book, you know, to prove to me that they were still alive. It was rather sad and happy ending, because after the war, the first time I went to my own town--back to my hometown--and of course, my mother and father weren't there. None of the few Jewish people that were there had survived. And I went rather heavy-hearted, as you can imagine, to a sort of a pub restaurant next door where we used to go sometimes for Sunday lunch. And as I sat there, the owner, who wa...used to be a young lad and now he was a man, came to me and he sat a cat in my life--lap. And he said, "This is the daughter of your cat. Do you want to keep it?" And, you know, I cried and I cried and I cried because I realized she was the only one--only survivor of that happy time of my childhood in Czech...and the other thing, which I think was most important of that time--the summer before the Germans invaded, I was nine and a half, and mother sent me to a holiday camp. She thought it might do me good to sort of um, be away on my own without my sister, you know, and without them.

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