Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tamara Sessler - February 4, 2008


Are there, are there times on a sort of regular basis that something will trigger a memory of your experience during the war?

Oh, yes, many times, many times.

What? For example--I mean for example if you see a field of corn, does that remind you of...

A field of corn not so much but when the war was on here just now and people were scared when they heard the rockets coming over I remember the bombs falling in England. I mean, this didn't scare me at all. I was sat here in the corridor and I wasn't scared because I went through it all. And all my friends said the same. To us it wasn't, it wasn't so scary anymore but I feel sorry when I see the refugees, for instance, that come over from Egypt, you know, the, they black guys come over from Darfur or whatever it's called, yes? I feel very sorry for them because we're not--first of all we're the wrong place for them, yes? We can't afford to, to be so hospitable but if we take them in we should certainly look after them. We don't look after them enough and I feel sorry for them, especially for the children. But look, a friend once said a refugee stays a refugee all his life. There's something in you that never goes out. You've always, you've always got this refugee feeling in you somehow.

Do you feel that way?

Yeah, yeah. Here less but in England I felt different even though I was Rita Vincent and I spoke English like an English person--I don't anymore because I've been here fifty years and I speak German again, yes? But in England I felt an outsider inside me, not outside. It wasn't my home. It's like being a victim of the Holocaust. I have a good friend--a very good friend and when we had one of the meetings in the Netanya she said she doesn't know why we're classed--she doesn't want to be classed a survivor. So, I stood up and I said, as much as I love my friend Inga," who said it, "I must contradict her because someone who was kicked out of the country where they were born with the clothes on their backs is a survivor. We're not survivors from any camps or any ghettos but we're survivors because if we hadn't gotten out we would've been there."

That's right.

That makes us a survivor whether we like it or not.

So you identify yourself as a survivor.

Sure, sure I'm a survivor. I'm grateful and happy that I am but I'm a survivor. My grandmother unfortunately wasn't. I wish she would've been at least a little bit longer with us.

So you think that the education about the Holocaust is an important one.

I think it's one of the very most important things a Jew can do today and I'm very glad and grateful that you're doing it.

Thank you.

Yes, I think it is.

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