Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tamara Sessler - February 4, 2008

Living in Prague

In Prague my mother had very wealthy relatives because my grandmother was born in Czechoslovakia and we thought Hitler wouldn't get to Czechoslovakia. We were escaping from Hitler to a safe place. We didn't know that he was going to follow us. And um, these relatives of my mother's helped us a lot. Looking back as a child they received me nicely in their home but not all of us. They used to send their Daimler with a driver with food to us. Thinking back, I think it would have been nicer if they would've invited us to eat at their place instead of sending us food but this is just a little thing which I remember. And um, these very rich relatives who could've bought themselves a plane and flown to freedom anytime, instead of that he hanged himself. And um, his wife afterwards died in Theresienstadt and his daughter lived in New York. They had a very, very large café on Wenceslav if you know where that is--that's main street in Prague. They were really very wealthy and they helped us where, where they could until my--until the uncle took his life. And then started to going to all sorts of embassies to try and get visas to, to get out of Czechoslovakia once Hitler came into Prague which I also remember very well. Now, it's interesting to note that the Czechs received Hitler in a completely different way to the Austrians. First of all, we were not allowed to speak German on the road. They used to say, "No German." I remember the words in Czech. Then um, I remember when Hitler came in and lots of men going off in, in lorries to join the Czech army wherever they could. I think the most of them got into England like the Polish army went to England--not the army but the people joined the free Poland. And I remember them going off and I remember people crying on the streets. Not like the Austrians who were really receiving the, the Hitler regime with open arms.




Cheering. I don't think I'm the only one who remembers that but, you know, that always goes with me. And every time--I've been back to Vienna twice--every time I don't look at elderly people there because I remember, you know, there's no people more courteous and more civil than the Austrians. Have you been to Vienna? Woman: Yes, in May.

I mean, everybody is very courteous and nice and I didn't understand then and I don't understand now how a people who are so culturally alive as the Austrians--even today I don't know any people who read more books, for instance, than the Austrians do and how they could've been so horrible and nasty to their very neighbors but I'm getting off, off my story.

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