INT: So you were working during the war?
IW: I was
INT: You were more than a seamstress really; you were cutting patterns
INT: You were learning to
IW: No that was, that was for myself. No I was only a seamstress in the shop learning to do alterations to make things smaller if people needed.
INT: Were you quite happy doing that then? Did you enjoy it?
IW: Yes, well you…
INT2: How did you get that job?
IW: I went, I literally went into the shop and said ‘I’m looking for a job. Do you need any help?’ and she said ‘I can only pay you twelve and six’ I remember that so well and she said ‘You know when I was young I had to pay to be employed in a shop like this’
So I said ‘Well I’m sorry I can’t pay’ And I lived in the girls hostel in Renfrew Street.
INT: So you feel that the Jewish Refugee club, the people there helped give you the confidence?
IW: It did give me confidence which I had lost quite a bit. I felt very… at sea.
INT: Yeah. So when the war finished, when the war was over you were about twenty-one?
IW: No, well yeah I must have been about twenty-one yes. And by that time I was married, yes.
INT: So did you get married just before the war finished?
IW: Just before yes, yes 1944
INT: Ok and then what happened then? What did you do thereafter? Did you work?
IW: I just, I got out of the shop. Well I did some more work where I was called up ‘What would I like to do?’
INT: Was this in order to help you to become naturalized or was this?
IW: No, no. Just because it was war work.
INT: Just because it was war work.
IW: You could either go into a munitions factory but since I was able to sew they said ‘You can sew in a factory where they make uniforms or parachutes, so I said ‘Well I think uniforms might be better’ and I worked in a factory, Moore Taggert in Albion Street where they made uniforms. But where I worked, they made policemen uniforms. A very boring job but it was a job and you just get on with it.
INT2: How were the girls?
INT2: With you?
IW: Yes, yes they were not too bad
INT2: And could you understand them?
IW: Yes just! Yes they were, well… you could talk to them but not a particularly intelligent conversation
INT: Did you, (I mean even then and now at any time) did you have any experiences of anti-Semitism?
IW: No I can’t say that. No, no. Maybe anti-German during the war but not really badly. When they heard why I was here they became, people became very friendly.
INT: So you felt that Scotland was a good place to be?
IW: Yes definitely. Yes, yes I’m very happy in Scotland.
INT: So you were a seamstress?
INT: Did you think about studying to do something else?
IW: I thought of further education but I just couldn’t afford it so I eventually gave it up. But in the Club, in the Refugee Club there were, as I said, people who were older and had studies. Some were more educated and we had very interesting meetings on a Saturday night where people would hold lectures about medicine (which I found always extremely interesting), history (yes quite interesting if you heard people talk about their own country) – but I found that I’ve always been extremely interested in medicine and anything that came up in a meeting like that I would be all ears.
INT: You said earlier on you would have liked to have trained to do nursing?
IW: Yes, yes
INT: If you’d had the opportunity
IW: But somehow it just didn’t work anymore because I don’t think I could have earned enough and it just didn’t work out anymore.
INT: So you were married after the war and you were
IW: No during the war – 1944
INT: Uh huh yes and when the war ended, after that, when you were married, did you start a family early on or were you working?
IW: No, no, we knew…
IW: We knew we would not start a family. In fact my parents finally got out of the housework and that was just before we got married and I said to Henry ‘My parents are going to rely on both of us or me alone to help pay for the flat’ – the rented flat, a furnished flat. ‘They can’t afford it on their own’
So I was going to move in with my parents and Henry agreed that when we got married we would live with my parents, share. We would have our own bedroom but shared the sitting room and the kitchen and there was no problem at all. My parents welcomed Henry very much, so much so that I used to say ‘Well I’m the step-child and Henry is the son’ because whatever was being decided -‘We’ll ask Henry’.
INT: So it worked out very well for you then?
IW: It worked out extremely well; Henry was accepted right away.
INT: So how long, how many years or how long did that situation last for?
IW: We lived in the furnished flat then my parents bought a flat upstairs and we lived then….but then….yes, eventually we had a little girl and we said, ‘We’d like a flat of our own’ and we bought a flat not very far away.
INT: Quite nearby
IW: Quite nearby because we got on extremely well with my parents
INT2: Did you speak German with them?
INT2: In the house?
IW: Never, never. The only time Henry and I spoke German in front of Hilary was when it was something we didn’t want her to understand / want her to know. I can’t remember what it was but she said one morning ‘I know what you’re saying in that funny language’ and there were no more secrets. We said ‘In that case we don’t want to speak German anymore’.
INT2: And what about with your parents?
IW: No. I spoke English. I had a thing – I didn’t want to speak German.
INT2: And at the Refugee Club?
IW: It was mostly English
INT2: So it was a decision?
IW: We all felt, we all felt that we’re in this country and we want to integrate as much as possible.
INT: With friendships – did you have mostly Jewish friends or half and half with non-Jewish or?
IW: We had some, through Henry’s work (Henry is a chef and he worked in hotels and restaurants) and one family who lived in (or live in Falkirk) became…the daughter was gaining experience in the hotel and she must have mentioned to her parents about us and we were invited to Falkirk to the family, the Morrison’s, and they were not Jewish and they were extremely kind. They could not have been more welcoming than they were.
INT: So did you maintain a friendship then?
IW: Yes we’re still friendly with the daughter who lives in Falkirk still.