Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tamara Sessler - February 4, 2008

Bombing in England

Tell me about the bombing in England.

The bombing was very, very unpleasant. I was at school most of the time. Do you know what a smoke screen is?

It's a cover.

That's right. They had a smoke screen right around the school and when the bombs started falling they lift them up and they sort of made smoke over the school, as sort of uh, take the idea of a landmark away, yes? And you couldn't see them so much from the, from the top if the planes came over as they did for instance in Coventry which was very near to Birmingham. And we went into the cellars every day, it was frightening but young people don't feel the fears of grownups, you know, even if you get up in the morning and you see a whole row of houses like calves lying on the ground like we often saw--especially Birmingham--it's bad but you don't feel the same fear and panic as grownups. We had different feelings. Can I get you something to drink? Sure?

So you wouldn't say your life as a child was dominated by fear?

I wouldn't say it from the, from the age of ten that it was dominated by joy. My mother was frightened, my grandmother taught me not to speak to anybody about politics or Hitler or anybody, my father was out of his wits with having to scrub the floor. The talk, the talk was, "Why, why are the neighbors and everybody--why are they turning against the Jews, what did we do to them?" So there was certainly not a feeling of happy, of happy feelings.

So happiness was not an issue?

No, no, not by then anymore, not by then anymore. We still went to shul. We were frightened of the goyim by then, yes? Even the porter in our house--my mother practically saved his son's life once with some--I don't remember what it was, something with his health but they didn't want to do--have anything to do with us anymore. Not that they turned against us but they, you know, kept their distance from then on. And relatives came with their stories of what they had to do and how they're trying to get out and everybody's trying to get out of the country. Doesn't make for good feeling even for a child.

Especially for a child.

Not especially a child because a child sees things through different eyes. A grownup sees more into the future, a child, he does what he's told, yes? It's not--a child's not as bad--it isn't a good feeling but you don't have the same concerns as an adult, right?

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