Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tamara Sessler - February 4, 2008

Life in Israel

We left the kibbutz with three pounds in our pockets and we came and lived in a little wash kitchen here in Haifa which before about five people had lived in. But my husband put electricity in and made me a shower. And it was a bit hard going because he had to go into the Israeli Army. And um, he thought he was going in for two years and I was working as a hair dresser and after the two years they added another six months and that was a terrible blow for me. And I wrote and told my sister, "I don't know what I am going to do now. They're going to add six months to it." So, she said, "Never mind, I'll send you a ticket. You come to me and you'll be here for a few months and the time will pass quickly." So, we decided that before I go to England that I'll be pregnant. We decided then it happened and I was there 'til practically the seventh month with my sister and um, then we moved into a small flat--a proper flat, not a one room flat--and we were there 'til 1960. In '60 we came up to the ???. Beautiful flat, full of debts as my husband became a bus driver--that means a member of a cooperative which cost a lot of money to go in and the flat cost money so we were in heavy debt. My sister of course helped as usual. That was Israel--hard going but very, very, very, very satisfactory. Sort of uh, regretting that we missed the War of Independence here, foolishly enough. We were always sorry we weren't here for the War of Independence but my husband managed to be in three wars afterwards. He didn't finish the army for two and a half years and after he finished a law came out that those who served in the British Army wouldn't have to serve it again--just three months. That was it.

Do you think it was confusing after the British had been so wonderful to have to come to Israel and hear them vilified?

Whenever I heard anything I told them my side of the British.

They saved your life.

Of course, not only they saved my life but they were so good everywhere. I mean today and after the war it was different again. The British are cold. They don't make friends as easily as one would expect, certainly not as the Europeans. But during the war you sat on the train and somebody took out a sandwich they asked around, "Would you like something? Can I share with you?" The Home Guard were wonderful. There is not nothing I could say against the British during the war--not a word. They were wonderful people. Kind, considerate, helpful, neighborly--there's just, just wonderful things to say about them besides having saved the lot of us, besides that.

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