Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lisa Kallai - January 28, 2008

Life at the Refugee School

Why were you unhappy? What was it like?

Hmm, I don't know. I...first of all it was a difficult situation. War broke out immediately and the staff had a very difficult time I presume with all of these children, you know, mostly refugee children with their parents somewhere in the world and they weren't sufficiently trained for that. I presume we must have been difficult and I don't think they coped with it too well but that may be subjective, I don't know.

Were they all Jewish children?

Ah, I think most of them, I think. It was supposed to be a German-English school. There were one or two English children but mostly it was refugees and they were either Jewish or half-Jewish.

So you had a difficult time there?

I would say I wasn't too happy there.

Well, you had been wrenched from your family at least twice at this point.

But, but I am considering the alternative, I was very fortunate, of course.

Did you feel this was the best thing for, for you?

I don't think so. I don't think at that age you feel that...if you're not, not very happy, you feel that this is the best thing...apart from that we didn't know what was going on in Europe. And um, we had no newspapers; we weren't allowed to listen to the radio so we didn't really know what was going on in the world, which didn't help.

The, the school was um, like a gymnasium?

Well it was school not just...very few teachers and they did the best they could with that but we had no science for instance and no...they just had to cope with a lot of children of different ages at a farm school. They trained the girls...actually the idea was...it was supported by the Quakers and uh, many of the girls when...or some of the girls...when they finished, when they were about to turn fifteen...to ages fifteen, sixteen, were sent as household girls to the Quaker homes. I think the main idea was survival.

I see, yeah, of course. Um, did you make any friends at this school?

Uh, yes.

People you've kept in touch with?

One, one friend I've kept in touch with. I think probably because we were equally dissatisfied and unhappy at that school.

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