Susie remembers a very happy childhood living in a huge house in the Sudetenland with her parents, older sister, pet dog and lots of staff. She had private tutors and attended the local school. Her father was atheist but on the high holy days they would go to synagogue in the nearby town where her mother grew up. Her father owned lots of factories and was a very successful businessman with many contacts and they were a very wealthy family. There were very few Jewish families in their town and Susie doesn’t remember experiencing any antisemitism. They had friends in the UK. Susie says she was a difficult child.
Susie’s sister visited the UK around 1936 before returning to Czechoslovakia. Her mother subsequently took her back to the UK. Their parents had foresight as to what was going to happen and they moved to a small two bedroom flat in Prague before the outbreak of the war with her grandmother, leaving their house, its contents and business behind. It was very difficult to be lying low the four of them in a small flat when they were used to their big house and her mother had never cooked before. Her father was in his 60’s and didn’t have the energy to start in business again. In May 1939 Susie came on the second to last of Winton’s Kindertransports to the UK. Her mother took her to the station as her father was too distraught to do so. Susie knew she would never see her mother again. Susie remembers speaking to the other children on the journey and they were equally anxious about what would await them when they reached the UK but she knew she was lucky to be being collected from the station by their family friend.
Susie was reunited with her sister after a period of three years apart in different countries and they boarded with a family using the money they had arrived with. They had contact with their parents until 1942. Their mother was taken to Theresienstadt where she died and her father died in the Lodz Ghetto Hospital. Susie briefly attended a dress making course behind Oxford Street while her sister trained as a secretary. When the Blitz begun she agreed to relocate to Shropshire at the request of her parents. She took up a junior role in a clothes company, cleaning undergarments and after three years decided that she hated it and went back to London.
Susie’s brother in law returned after the war to find out what had happened to the family. The house in the Sudetenland had been taken over by the Nazis as their HQ along with its contents. Susie has never revisited and it is now a hotel. Susie since met her husband, married and has two daughters, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Her sister and family now live in Geneva.
Susie has spoken very little about her experiences for 70 years and it is very emotional for her to recall but she feels that she should record her testimony as a legacy.
Everybody has to learn to live with everybody else, regardless of creed or religion.Susie Lind