Edith describes the many highpoints in her life and her one main regret.
INT: And have you ever wanted to go back to Germany since? Since that last meeting with your father?
EF: No, no. I did go with a couple of groups when we took students and I had a very good head of department. He was Polish and happened to be in Poland at the time the war broke out and therefore…yes. He had to join the Polish Army, and he and I took a couple of trips to Germany with pupils and that was mostly enjoyable but…
INT: And later in life did you start mixing more with other people who came as Kindertransport or as survivors of the Holocaust?
EF: Well yes, I heard about the Kindertransport. I think it was really through Hansie (Hansie Douglas Dobschiener) although she didn’t come through the Kindertransport. I just had this desire to meet some of the others and I used to enjoy meeting Bob and Betty (McKenzie) and the Wugas, who I hadn’t known before, and some of the others. And all had done very well, you know so…But Rosa Sacharin was a dear lady, yeah, and I found her very nice. She’s been through to see me. But it’s keeping in touch, you know, and there it is…
INT: If you look back now on your years here in Scotland what would you say was, has been the high point for you?
EF: Oh my…there’s so many.
INT: High points?
EF: Well getting wonderful foster parents. Even though I was never adopted, they were wonderful parents to me. They had lost their own child, Mum nearly died and the baby was stillborn and she couldn’t have any more. But they took me thinking that I would go back to my own parents. What kind of people are those? Wonderful, loving people. That was a highlight. And getting me an education, because they did without. We didn’t get grants in those days and they saw me right through my education and everything and it was wonderful. And I said, “Well one thing I’m not going to do, I’m not going to teach.” “Well just wait and see.” So my lady advisor said to me, “
Edith, I want you to take a year at Moray House, you know, once you’re through. Go and get your degree.” And I said, “I don’t want to teach.” But she said, “Nevertheless take your year at Moray House.” And I always remember because Miss Christie was a very strict lady but she was an excellent, excellent lady and teacher. We had her for classics, for Latin. And that’s what I did. I found myself in teaching and I loved it! Absolutely loved it. I had thirty-one and a half years teaching and I loved it.
INT: And did you ever tell the children about your background and where you came from?
EF: No but since I’ve retired, I’ve done many talks, many talks in schools. Usually to either Primary Seven or…not to Primary Seven, and also to secondary schools, yes. I did that for many years and but now I’m passed that I think.
INT: And you felt it was important, why to do that?
EF: Because I, I had had to hide my Jewishness; I had to hide my being German and through Mum and Dad, they said, “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Why would you hide that?” And I suddenly felt I can shout it from the rooftops, “I am Jewish!” And if I were in a room that was full of people and somebody said, “Any Jews stand!” I would not even hesitate because I am so proud of my Jewish birth and that I had a Jewish mother that bore me.
INT: And yet you are a keen member of the Church as well aren’t you?
EF: Yes, yes. I was a deacon for many, many years but it’s only for so many years at a time in the Baptist Church. I was baptised and Hansie came and she said, “Edith I don’t know if I’m going to manage because I’m in Coldstream in the morning for the service but if I can I will be there in the evening.”.
INT: And that was Hansie Douglas?
EF: Hansie Douglas Dobschiener.
EF: And I can always remember her when I was baptised and Helen, who is my best friend, Dr Wishart, she came and got me out, dried me off and then I went and got dressed and then I came through and Hansie shot down the aisle…like that.
INT: She gave you a hug?
EF: Yes, yeah, oh yes.
INT: Are there…I shouldn’t ask this really, but are there any low points from your experience here in Scotland?
EF: Difficult to tell because in many ways I have been so blessed, so many ways. My home, no mortgage; I could take early retirement because of my deafness. That has been a hard thing to put up with because it started when I was in my late thirties and it’s got steadily worse so I have very strong hearing aids. And yeah…And I think I always vowed, which was wrong, I know that now, that I would never marry unless it was a Jew that I married.
And, as it so happened one of the loves of my life was German, turned out to be German and I couldn’t tell him. I hadn’t even the courage to tell him that I was Jewish. I just broke it off and said, “No I don’t think this friendship is going to go anywhere”. So…yeah. But no, I’ve been so blessed. Pension from my teaching, you know, and everything in the house was left for me so I’m blessed. I would have loved to have had children, especially grandchildren. Oh how I would have loved them. But I have seven Godchildren and they are very loving and I’ve had them since they were born and now they are grown up. That’s some of them up there. These are the Godchildren.
INT: You’ve got lovely photographs.
EF: Identical twins.
INT: Well Edith that was very nice to speak to you this afternoon and thank you very much.
EF: You’re welcome.