Sonja describes her experiences after arriving in Britain.

SH: And so we arrived, we went to London first where we had rich relations but they only took us to see the sights. You know what it was like?

INT: Yes. I think that was common.

SH: Yes. We saw the Bank of England and everything else. Anyway we arrived in this big place and they weren’t at all pleased with us when they found out I had to go to school, that I wasn’t old enough; they wanted us out as soon as possible. So I went into an orphanage and my mother went in to cook for somebody else. But jobs were ten a penny, you know what I mean. If you could cook, and my mother had done, before we came away, she’d done two courses, one was a mega, mega cookery course because she never cooked at home, you know. But she did this mega cookery course, and then she did one on make up, and shoe polish, and other things.


INT: To have a skill to sell?

SH: To have skills because, you know, to have any skill was better than nothing.

INT: You must have been by that time, what, about 14?

SH: Yes.

INT: And…

SH: No, 13 just coming up for 14.

INT: 14. So you would have had to go to school? And…

SH: Yes the school was a sort of intermediate thing; the teachers were absent more than the children.They came out of camps and they had had really a rather harder time than we had. [Sonja was in a Jewish hostel where some of the children and some of the teachers were also refugees]


INT: It must have been a terrible shock for her to end up here in Britain as a, as a cook?

SH: No.

INT: No, she coped with that well, did she?

SH: Oh she coped with that very well. We were on the way to America you see. We got visas for America, and we were only having a stop off here.

INT: Is that right?

SH: Yes.

INT: So what made her stay?

SH: The boat was sunk.

INT: Oh.


SH: That was a good enough reason.

INT: A very good reason.

SH: Yes, so we never went to America. I’ve still got the visas.

INT: Have you?

SH: Oh yes, oh yes.

INT: That’s interesting.

SH: And it never worried her. She thought everything would, would be all right.

INT: Did she?

Listen to the testimony

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