Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Helen Stransky - January 31, 2008

Memories II

Um, so you've learned about the Holocaust.

I learned afterwards. I don't remember much before except that uh, I remember being in England with my uncle and grandmother. That was, you know, when things first came to light. Um, I think I remember from the Czech impressions um, my father drinking tea that he drank very fast. That was one impression, the second impression when, when I was throwing blocks at my brother in a playpen in the Czech Republic and they came--hands scooped me up and that was it but that's about all.

What kind of memories do you have of your grandparents?

I don't--my um, the grandfather died when I was--in 1936 and I was born in '34 so I have no memories except that walking across--wow, that's strange--walking across the Charles Bridge with him and that's the only memory I have--and looking down at the diving--the divers. Years later I went into scuba diving and I loved it and that was in Los Angeles at Catalina Island and um, I learned to fly. I wanted to get away from the heat in Los Angeles, um...

You became a pilot?

Well, I got--I didn't get my license at that time because I was getting ready to come to Israel but I passed the navigation and I passed the solo flying.

And what about your grandmother?

My grandmother? Um, she was very good to us. She and my uncle lived together in Toronto for about--while we were growing up and I guess she took care of him and um, we both liked her very much. She was good to us, gave us food, looked after us. But him, neither of us liked him.

You're uncle?

Right. He--I think he meant well but he didn't know how to be--he was eccentric. He didn't know how to behave with children and he broke our hearts when he took us away from that first family. We wanted so much to go back and then by the time I was old enough I did spend the last year with that first--with that lady before she died.

Do you remember their names?

Yes, Reg and Sybil Fawcett from Thornbury-Clarksburg. The second family was uh, Browns um, don't remember his name--oh, Rose Brown was her--I suffered a lot with her. She taught us to cook and to um, prepare meals and I think in her own way she was doing her best to raise us but uh, we never ate with them. They always made us eat in the kitchen. And um, they're both dead now. Um, and I didn't like his advances and that was, that was the awkward part and so we went into a third family and the third family was okay but I was old enough and I was on my own...

So you were twenty around then?

Actually I left that third family when I was fifteen years old and then um, I what it called--I rented a place in Toronto and finished high school at night doing a matric...

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn