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Pamela's story

Anti-semitism in England - a London childhood

Most of our country trips were not so exciting or pleasant. The people in the country were paid for the room and board of the Londoners, and they didn’t like us. They would come to the train station when we’d arrive, and choose the family they would take. They didn’t like fat people because they would eat too much. They didn’t like Jews because they were supposedly all the awful things that have ever been said about Jews. And we were Jewish.

Mother had pinned a tiny Star of David to my undershirt, hoping it would work like a good luck charm to help keep me alive. One evening, the lady of the house walked into our room while mother was giving me a sponge bath, saw the Star of David and became hysterical. She told us to leave her house, screaming that we had ‘contaminated’ everything we had touched - her dishes, her knives and forks - her very air!

We walked to the train station along the stony country lane, and my doll, my precious doll, my only toy, fell from the carriage where our bags of stuff were stacked. Her china head cracked and broke. We spent the night sitting on the bench at the train station waiting for the morning train to take us back to London. I was heartbroken and cried for hours.

Back in London, one day my Zaida (Grandfather) and Mum were pushing the baby carriage along the High Street of our neighborhood, in the middle of the day, when the siren began it’s up and down wailing. Mother wanted to run to the tube station shelter because it was closer . But Zaida said “No, we cannot leave Booba (Grandmother) alone. She would be too frightened“. Mother insisted on going to the station…. But Zaida grabbed hold of the baby carriage and began pushing it, running, toward home. Mother and I had no choice but to follow him.

We spent the rest of the day and all the night in the dark, in the shelter. In the morning, when it was quiet, we came out, only to hear on the news that the subway station we had almost gone to had been bombed. All the people down there on the subway platform had died.

When the war was over, there was a party on the street. And some time later the soldiers began coming home.

I begged my mother to allow me to run down the stairs and answer the door when my daddy came home. And she said yes.

It seemed a long time later that the doorbell rang, and I remember very well the excitement of that moment. I ran to the door, opened it, and a giant stood there. A tall, tall man in uniform, with a backpack. A total stranger. I don’t remember him at all after that moment for many years. My mother told me that I kept asking her when he was going away again, because I didn’t like this stranger telling me what to do.

Pamela
10th October, 2001

Wartime children often went hungry, and fruit, either fresh or tinned was a real treat. To read about 'the stolen fruit' just click here.


Pamela and her family eventually emigrated to the US and she now lives in New Jersey. She is a member of the TIMEWITNESSES Panel of Elders and you can write and ask her questions if you click here.


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