Evelyn Strang describes her family and her early life in Germany and Poland before 1938

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INT: Today is the 9th of April 2012 and I'm here to interview Mrs Evelyn Strang. Could you tell me please when you were born, where and what was your name at birth?

E.S: I was born in Leipzig in 1933 and my name was Frischer with a C.

INT: My goodness. What was your life like in Leipzig before all this happened?

E.S: We had a wonderful life. I mean it was amazing. I heard all these terrible stories but we were never bothered. We had a wonderful life; we went skiing, we went swimming.

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I couldn't understand. But it didn't last long, did it? '38, knock on the door about 5/6 in the morning and we had to get dressed. My mother said 'I must pack! I must pack!'

'No. Nothing. Take nothing. Not allowed to take anything'

But the money that my father had got when he sold a coat he brought to the house because he couldn't put money in the bank. Jews couldn't put money in the bank. And he put the money in a little case with all the socks on top of it, no knickers, just socks. So that was it, the little case. And they took us to this railway station and then went.

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INT: And was that in November? Was that after the Kristallnacht?

E.S: It was before Kristallnacht.

INT: Before?

E.S: October.

INT: I see, oh that's interesting.

E.S: We got away in October.

INT: And did you have brothers or sisters? Or were you an only child?

E.S: A brother. At that time I had a brother but my mother had another child in Scotland. She must have been about 40. She had a boy, so I have a brother 18 years younger than I am.

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INT: Goodness me.

INT: So what age were you then? I'm sorry my maths is terrible.

E.S: I was 5 when they arrested us.

INT: Right.

INT: So you wouldn't really have known what was happening.

E.S: I was quite...I can remember quite a lot.

INT: I suppose it was so traumatic that you would.

E.S: It was but I was with my parents so I don't think I was very worried. But we were in that train all day and all night we had to walk. It was pouring with rain. I had to walk, my brother was 3 so he got carried. So that was the beginning.

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E.S: Well it was just the Germans. I was just a little girl playing and 'We'll soon have you all exterminated'. I didn't know what he meant.

INT: This was in Germany?

E.S: Yes

INT: At school or just in the street?

E.S: Just in the street.

INT: Oh

E.S: This German just said 'We're going to have you all exterminated'. I didn't really know what it meant.

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INT: And you must, were you with your mother at the time?

E.S: Yes

INT: Yes

E.S: All the family were together. This was before '38.

INT: That must have been terrifying for a child.

INT: And your older brother, did he stay in Glasgow or did he..?

E.S: He's younger.

INT: Now you were telling me about some of these photographs. Can we start with this one please?

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E.S: Yes that's my mother aged 3, before the First World War, my grandparents crossing into Switzerland. And after the war he decided to come back to Germany which was a big mistake.

INT: That's amazing. And these are the people who rescued you?

E.S: That's me

INT: That's you, oh you were beautiful!

INT: Very glamorous.

INT : Oh very glamorous

And that's my grandmother.

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INT: What an elegant dress.

INT: What a beautiful dress.

INT: So when was that one taken?

E.S: That must have been... my grandmother... by the style of the dress it must have been '15/'16 round about that era because of the dress.

INT: It's beautiful, absolutely stunning.

E.S: Oh that was my hair I think, the colour.

INT: Your beautiful red hair, auburn hair. It's gorgeous.

E.S: And this, these are all the people who died in Auschwitz. My grandparents.

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INT: Your grandparents.

E.S: Yes.

INT: Who else? All these people?

E.S: My father fought for Maccabi

INT: Oh that's him in his boxing shorts!

INT: With the .Magen David on it, and that's in Germany as well?

E.S: Yes Maccabi.

INT: A very handsome man your father actually.

E.S: He was. That's my first birthday. Now this is Germany, my grandparents, and you can see swastikas. Can you see?

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INT: A lot of flags.

E.S: Can you see? You need to really enlarge it.

INT: Yes to see them.

E.S: That was in Berlin.

INT: 'Berlin 1936, mother and 8 grandparents' No 'Mother, 8, and grandparents' That's what it is.

E.S: This is Alwernia which I'll show you the map.

INT: Where is that? Is that in Germany?

E.S: No, Poland.

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INT: Ah, so did your grandparents originate in Poland?

E.S: No they, well my great-grandparents did.

INT: Ah.

E.S: But they actually had a lovely butcher's shop in Leipzig but the Germans said if you sell pig we will let you keep the shop open and my grandfather was too orthodox and they had to leave and go to Poland and live in this cottage. It was very poor, no sanitation. It says on the back 'Alwernia'.

INT: 'Alwernia 1935' And that's why they'd have been sent to Auschwitz from Poland.

E.S: Well that's me in the pram in Germany.

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INT: It's a lovely big pram.

E.S: My mother modelling a coat in Leipzig.

INT: Ah.

E.S: That's the factory in Leipzig.

E.S: Yes. Oh that's just a wee picture. That's me in Almutz outside Prague.

INT: I see

E.S: Well this was Alwernia.Katowice. My father in a fur coat.

INT: That's right.

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E.S: I could have it. This with the family again. And I've got, that's great, great, great uncle Isaac. That was, quite a lot of these people were on that picture but they were much younger.

INT: Right.

E.S: They were much younger. And this is also Alwernia.

INT: In April 1935.

E.S: Me hanging out the window, my grandmother.

INT: You were extremely cute.

INT: Yes very cute. It looks as if you've got a kite or something. No you're holding the door, the window

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INT: The window cord.

INT: The window cord.

E.S: And this is a picture of Alwernia now this church is on the computer. And this was written for my first birthday but the stamps say Alwernia.

INT: Oh yes.

E.S: And that was right beside Auschwitz.

INT: Is that right?

E.S: I've got the map, I can show you the map.

INT: Alwernia is near Auschwitz. Goodness.

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E.S: But on the computer if you look up Alwernia. But because it's still got... the stamp, it was 1934.

INT: And Auschwitz would just have been in another little village that had no significance.

E.S: 600 people of which 100 were Jewish.

INT: Is that right? That's interesting.

E.S: It's in my uncle's little booklet which is very funny. This is just my first birthday. That's a German stamp.

INT: Yes.

INT: That's Bismarck on it.

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E.S: I got a lot of letters for my first birthday.

INT: That's lovely, celebrating your

E.S : birthday.

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