Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Kurt Stern - February 11, 2008

Life in England

Um, did the ??? send you to um, to school?

Yes um, I arrived on the second of June. I don't know how long it took them but I remember they sent me to a boys summer camp and um, well I forgot my Czech straight away because as I said it was my second language and I--my German was at the back of my mind but I didn't speak with anybody German in England and English became my number one language. And after the summer camp I was sent to the local school that started in September. That means I must've been good enough in English anyway. And they sent to high grammar school which I left as I said in 1944 and my uncle was a pastry chef and he took me, took me to be an apprentice pastry chef as well in the Park Lane Hotel in London.

When you were first in East Anglia were you affected by the war at all?

Well, locally there were a lot of American airports when American entered the war and I know there were a lot of planes that limped back or crashed and we were collecting plastic, glass and things like that but we weren't--no local bombing or anything like that, no.


But I did--when I got to London in 1944 the doodlebugs were falling.

The V-1s--the V-2s.

The V-1, yeah.

What was that like?

My uncle put me in the Czech hostel in Holland Park where I stayed, I don't know how long, a year probably and a half until I became independent took--rented a room on my own. Uh, my cousin Ruth worked at the Jewish agency and uh, well, she came to Israel in uh, beginning of '48 I think, before the establishment or '47 to come close to her brother who was living in Haifa. And of course the closest person I was to was my--was Ruth so I followed her a year later or more.

But there were no--you recall ever running into bomb shelters or anything like that?

Well yes we went into Underground. That was the bomb shelter, the Underground. Whenever there was a siren and you were out you went to the bomb she...to the Underground.

That must've been scary.

Well, you know, a sixteen year old--well, fifteen year old, more of an adventure I think than anything else. I mean, I think as a child my trip to London was to me an adventure. I didn't know what was happening.

So you weren't frightened?

Well I didn't know what was happening. I mean, the ???--I remember that the Jewish agency decided to put the ??? must've been why I left the ??? and my uncle told me about it and I didn't eat that day and I didn't know why until afterwards when I grew up.

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