Margaret is a German Jewish Refugee. She fled Nazi persecution, leaving her family behind and then settled in the UK. In this Untold Stories film she speaks about the persecution which drove her family from Germany, how she escaped to England, and the fate of her relatives who were left behind.
[Margret is sitting in a chair, talking to camera. The images are cut with her writing.]
My name is Margaret. I’m 94 years old now. I was born in Germany. I had a very happy childhood, and then Hitler came to power. The school took part in a march. So I took part in that march. It was called ‘By torchlight’. And something awful, awful, somehow started. They sang ‘Wenn das Judenblut vom Messer spritzt, dann geht’s nochmal so gut.’ That meant, ‘When we kill Jews, everything will even be much better.’ was absolutely shattered when I got home to my mother, and said, ‘You’ll never believe what has happened.’
On the 1 April, 1933, when a person who was an SA or SS had to stand in front of the Jewish shops to see that nobody would enter the shop and would buy something. And as it happened, our next door neighbour had a son, and we were very friendly with him, and all of a sudden, he stood outside our shop in his SA uniform, and my mother said, ‘What! How can you do that to us? You know us, when you were a child.’ I mean… And his answer was, ‘Orders are orders.’ So; that was that.
The Kristallnacht; there were heaps – outside our house, heaps of glass and porcelain and everything. Heaps, all broken. They had broken in through the shop windows and destroyed everything what they could. I was furious, absolutely furious.
After that, it was clear that we had to leave. I went back to my mother and I thought, ‘I’ll not leave you here.’ My oldest brother had emigrated to Holland and I took my mother to Amsterdam, but I had a letter from my boyfriend, ‘Don’t wait in Amsterdam, come to England.’ That actually saved my life.
I went to Sheffield and there was the wife of a rabbi who had several young girls and found jobs for them to work. The ladies who were looking for maids to work in their houses looked us up and down, and I felt like a slave must have felt.
My brother tried to get out of Holland with his wife, but they got caught, and then they were taken to Auschwitz. They were gassed straight away. My second brother, brother Paul, he was left in Berlin. He said, ‘Well, nothing will happen to me.’ He ended up in Minsk. Luckily my youngest brother, his life was saved in Palestine.
And as I said before, I took my mother to Amsterdam, thinking she would be safe there. I should have left my mother in Germany. It – it… It would have been the…. It would have been the same … end for her. Can you stop a minute?
After my mother was taken to Sobibor, it was straight away they were killed. When it actually sank in that I didn’t have any letters anymore from the Red Cross and so on, I was absolutely… I was finished.
It never leaves you. It is with me, what has happened to me, constantly, and every night I ask forgiveness, and I – I thank my parents and my brothers for all the love they have given me too. So, it’s with you all the time. It never leaves you. It never leaves you.