Ernest Marchand, geboren in Gelsenkirchen
Ernest Marchand wurde am 22. Februar 1929 in Gelsenkirchen geboren. Sein Vater Abraham Marchand, geboren am 1. Februar l877, betrieb an der Hochstr. 93 eine Metzgerei. Er starb wenige Monate nach der Geburt seines Sohnes Ernest. Ernest's Mutter wurde am 10. Juli 1890 in Falkenburg/Pommern (Heute Złocieniec/Polen) geboren. 1935 zog die Mutter mit Ernest innerhalb Gelsenkirchens von der Wildenbruchstrasse 5 zur Von-der-Recke-Strasse 4. Am 26. Mai 1939 konnte die Mutter mit Ernest dank der Hilfe Verwandter Deutschland verlassen und nach England ausreisen. Schon am nächsten Tag kamen Mutter und Sohn wohlbehalten in London an.
Elfriede Marchand, der Bruder des Vaters, Jonas Marchand und seine Frau Bernhardine, geborene Seligmann wurden von Gelsenkirchen am 27. Januar 1942 nach Riga verschleppt. Jonas und seine Frau Bernhardine werden kurz nach ihrer Ankunft in Riga bei der "Aktion Dünamünde" (Tarnname für eine der Nazi-Mordaktionen) im März 1942 ermordet, über Elfriedes Schicksal ist nichts bekannt, es kann davon ausgegangen werden, das auch sie ermordet wurde.
Ernest Marchand erzählt in dem folgenden Niederschrift des Interviews, das Louise Coutts 1988 in Glasgow mit ihm führte, unter anderem von seiner Kindheit in Gelsenkirchen, der Ankunft in England und sein Leben in Glasgow.
Ernest Marchand - Memories
Can you tell me your full name?
My name is Ernest Marchand. I live at 8 Greenhill Avenue, Giffnock, Glasgow.
And what is your date of birth?
22nd February 1929. My father was called Abraham Marchand. I am not quite sure where he was born. Probably near Gelsenkirchen. He had one brother called Jonas. Both brothers were in the meat trade. We had what I called a Dutch granny. That was the only person of that family who I really knew. She was an ancient lady. And could speak very little German. I'm not sure of the background of the whole family, but they obviously came from Holland and settled in Germany. How they acquired the French name I do not know. My father had a cousin called Spielman who is still alive in France. I will say more about that later. My father died within a few months of my birth and I was brought up entirely by my mother. My mother came from a fairly large family. There were four sisters and two brothers. One brother probably came from an earlier marriage.
Falkenburg/Pommern in the Thirty's
It appears that from both sides the fathers married twice. As indeed my father did. My father's first marriage yielded one son and one daughter. Both of whom are still alive in America. They have their own families. I did not meet them until about 10 years ago. They will be mentioned again later. My mother's family I know extremely well. During the holidays I used to go to the place of her birth, which was Falkenburg in Pomerania which is a little village near Stettin. It is now Polish and Szczecin. Most of my early memories are related to holidays there. I was allowed to run wild. There wasn't much trouble I could get into other than falling down holes through the floorboards to the cellar. My most vivid memory of that time is that I had several pet chickens which used to follow me around. Until one day when I did not remember they were behind me and I banged the door and decapitated one.
Another vivid memory, co-incidentally about chickens, concerned my uncle in the process of ritually slaughtering the chicken. And that left a vivid memory which I was not particularly fond of. My uncle in Falkenburg inherited the family business, which was mainly clothing and linen. It didn't go too well and for a large part of the time that he was running it he was supported by the rest of the family. He didn't marry until fairly late. Probably about 1932 or '33. The uncle was called Ernest and I am called after him. Which was fairly lucky because my father would have preferred a more Germanic name, which I would have been forced to change.
My parents married in 1928. I was born in February 1929. I think my father died about June. My mother naturally was greatly distressed and spent a large time back with her family. Her mother and father were still alive, but died probably two years after I was born. I have no memory of them. I have a large photograph collection of my mother's family. They were typical old fashioned looking country folk. It was quite a mixed family. I believe my mother's parents brought up a boy who was the son of cousins. He was called Fritz Müller. My mother's mother was called Müller. I'm not quite sure what the relationship was, but it must have been fairly near. He always talked as if he was a cousin. He will figure again later.
You mentioned your mother and your father. Could you tell me a bit more about them regarding where they were born and their date of birth?
My father's date of birth is 1st February 1877. He was probably born near Gelsenkirchen. But I am not certain. My mother's birthday is 10th July 1890. And she was born in Falkenburg in Pomerania which was a family home.
You said that after your father died your mother went back to her mother?
That is correct.
Could you tell me where that was?
That was still in Falkenburg.
You mentioned your uncle Ernest. Was he the brother of your mother or the brother of your father?
My mother's brother.
Can you tell me something more about your mother. For instance your mother's occupation?
My mother did fairly well at school. She was a clever girl. But of course it was a country area. I do not know what education system was. But she went to a college of some kind, mainly learning domestic things. And probably secretarial skills. She took a special course, at some stage, dealing with the teaching of mentally retarded children. I'm not quite sure of the sequence of events. Partly because the First World War intervened. But she spent some time teaching mentally retarded children. But at some stage she was the secretary to the owner or general manager of a firm in Berlin. The firm was called Hugo Stinnes. Either they were a large department store or had motoring interests. It's also possible that they had both.
Because I remember my mother talking about it to us, which I have a photograph of my mother sitting at her desk. I think it was after she had been there 10 years or when she left. There is a large clock, a wall clock, in the office. Naturally a large typewriter. And a filing cabinet. The reason I mention these is because when inflation was raging in Germany after the First World War initially people cashed their sort of million mark bank notes immediately they received them, in order to buy a loaf of bread. But soon after, when money was discredited, people took their salary in kind. The result is that the office clock ended up in our kitchen. My mother ended up also with two typewriters. And I have still got the filing cabinet.
Eventually when we left Germany the two office typewriters were traded in for a portable typewriter which actually didn't work as well as the old ones. My mother got a fairly substantial pension. Probably from her work and my father's life insurance. We were reasonably well off in a sense that my mother did not have to work.
I have no bad memories about my childhood. The place I lived in, Gelsenkirchen, with hindsight, was a terrible dump. It was the centre of the coal and steel industry of the Ruhr. It had been said unkindly by friends in later life that the reason I like Glasgow was because I was born in such a dump. The house we lived in was a flat. I remember the address. It is Wildenbruchstrasse 5, it was near the station. It was also near the kindergarten and the school. It was a corner property, part of which was a shop selling sewing machines. Possibly also other domestic equipment. The house belonged to a family called Kellerman.
However, business was not very good. In fact the property was mortgaged. Presumably he joined the Nazi party for sympathy and support as many like him did. His troop or squad used to drill in our courtyard. They were fairly abusive, but we were abusive in return. We could afford to be, because he couldn't put us out of the house as the property was mortgaged. He could not act without the sanction of the bank. Luckily however we took the precaution of letting down the shutters whenever the drills took place.
My mother and her family were not deeply religious. They kept all festivals. We went to synagogue on Saturdays and Holy Days. And we were reasonably kosher. We were a typical sort of German Jewish family. And took our religion fairly lightly. We had many friends. Both Jewish and non-Jewish. In fact my first kindergarten was run by a Catholic organisation. They were the closest kindergarten to us and as the roads were busy, presumably that is why I was sent there. But eventually things began to change. Round about 1935 it was no longer adviseable to make fun of Nazis. And we thought it wise to move to a different part of the town.
We moved to a street called Von der Recke-Street It was number 4. The block of flats was owned by a Jewish family. But there was a mixed population. One of the important points was that the entrance courtyard had a fairly high and substantial steel gate. In general the flat was in a better area. We were a few minutes from the park. And we were near the main shopping centre. Round about this time our school was closed. It was taken over presumably by the town and we were given a shabbier school. Which didn't particularly worry us.
I remember very few names of people in my class. The main ones, of course, were the Friedler's, with whom I met up again in Glasgow. Eventually things became worse. We were not allowed to go to the cinema. We couldn't make use of the swimming pool. And in the last winter we were not allowed to go sledging down the local hill. Of course the fact that we weren't allowed to did not stop us boys doing it without telling our parents. We must have been mad. Round about 1938, early 1938, children started disappearing from school and we heard that they had gone to various places. A number of children's transports were sent to Holland, France, Britain, probably even America. These were transports of children because the parents could not get either a visa or a work permit.
Looking back I frequently find it very sad that in those days immense difficulties were placed in the way of Jews wanting to leave Germany. Whereas nowadays many people can go to various countries for economic reasons rather than to escape persecution. Many children left. They tended not to announce the fact that they were leaving. They just didn't turn up for school one day. My mother tells me that one of the reasons she started initiating emigration procedures was because I kept telling her that everybody was leaving and shouldn't we also leave. My mother of course had problems inthat her family, her sisters and brothers, were still in Germany. And it must have been quite a wrench. In 1939 she would have been 49.
However, she wrote to various people. She wrote to the children of my father's first marriage, who were unable to help us. She then asked my uncle who had emigrated to Britain in l933. He was not my real uncle, he was in effect my mother's cousin, who was brought up by her parents. His name was Fritz Müller. He was a doctor who could no longer practice as early as 1933. He came to Britain, had spent a year in Edinburgh to requalify. And then went to London. He specialised in paediatrics. When he was in Edinburgh he stayed with a family, Mr and Mrs Brown, whom I met many years later.
My uncle thought it would easier for my mother and myself to get a visa to enter Britain if it was guaranteed by locals. In effect the Browns got a family in Edinburgh, the name of the family was Oppenheimer, or Oppenheim, somewhere in the West End, I think Palmerstone Avenue?, Palmerstone something, to guarantee that we would not be a burden on the State. I remember very little about the Oppenheims, other than I once met their daughter at a habernem camp?
But to go back to Germany. My uncle in London made arrangements for us to come to Britain. We eventually got clearance about January or February 1939, after fairly protracted procedures. We had to go to various medical specialists, who examined us very thoroughly to ensure that we were fit. It appears now that all possible obstacles to our entry to Britain were placed in our way. But eventually we received our visas. We didn't hang around a great deal. Things were getting bad. But ironically my mother was doing some typing for fairly senior Nazi officials, who had to write a thesis in order to get promotion. It seems a fairly topsy turvy world, but the whole area was peculiar. Being the centre of the war it had a long communist tradition.
...the family above us, the man had to join the Nazi Party. I think he was unemployed. It is certain that he didn't join out of conviction. At that time we weren't allowed to have a radio, but he often invited us to listen to the radio. As it happens it was mainly Hitler's speeches. But the evening of Kristalnacht he warned people in the house to lock their doors, to put the lights out and he would lock the main gate to the courtyard. We didn't know why, we didn't know what was going to happen. But we took his advice. The result was that in the morning we didn't know that anything had happened. We didn't have a radio, we didn't have a telephone. And my mother packed me off to school as usual. By coincidence I took a back road, which avoided the main shopping area. If I would have gone through the shopping area I would have seen the windows smashed. And I turned up at school with a number, quite a large number, of other kids. One or two of the teachers had been bashed about a bit. And the school was vandalised. At that time we didn't know that an attempt had been made to burn down the synagogue. We only learned that much later.
After this, things quietened down again for many months. There were many people sympathetic to the Jews. For instance, when we packed our belongings it was a huge lift, now it would be called a container. We were not allowed to take out silver cutlery, silver candlesticks. We were restricted. My mother was restricted to one wedding ring. Couldn't take any rings with gems in them. But when we came to Britain and eventually unpacked our lift, about five years later, we found that various items of cutlery had been hidden amongst the cushions. It is obvious that either the people who did the packing or the customs official, or both, had agreed to pack these things in contravention of the regulations. We have still got the cutlery. Some items we had to get rid of. The candlesticks we gave to a family. After the war we got in touch with them and they told us that the house in which we stayed and where the candlesticks were, had been bombed by the RAF.
We received many kindnesses from people. Things were not noticeably bad. For instance, my mother couldn't persuade the rest of the family to leave. They didn't see any reason for leaving. There must have been many like them. Why it should be that in a place like Gelsenkirchen, people just thought they ought to leave, I do not know. I was greatly disappointed, being a 10 year old, that my mother decided not to take my bicycle. That appears to have been my greatest concern at that time. We left Germany on 26th of May 1939. We arrived in London the next day. And stayed for two or three days with my uncle Fritz, who drove us round London. It was one of the first times I had actually been in a car. My uncle was not married and obviously couldn't look after us. He had a housekeeper who acted as receptionist. And we slept in the waiting room. I think his address was in Maidavale. In Elgin Avenue. Although I remember quite distinctly that the locals there called it 'Eljin' Avenue.
We went by train to Edinburgh, thinking that that is where we would stay. Because nobody has told us that the chain of guarantees sort of went in effect from my uncle to the Browns, to the Oppenheims, to the refugee committee in Glasgow. Who ran the hostel in Hill Street. This was a boys hostel at 125 Hill Street. It belonged to the synagogue. It is still there. And is currently being rebuilt into flats. I think I spent only one night in Edinburgh. We went on a sight seeing tour on the top deck of a tram. And presumably because my mother and I were talking German, a lady gave me half a crown. This was a phenomenal sum because we were allowed to take out only the equivalent of £1.10 shillings. I think I gave the half crown to my mother.
We were driven through to Glasgow by the Oppenheims. And the first people we saw at the Hill Street Hostel were the Friedler's who had disappeared from Gelsenkirchen about six months earlier. There were two brothers, Leo and Sallie. Leo was about a year older than me and Sallie a year younger. His mother and father stayed in Germany. I integrated fairly quickly into the community. There were about twenty boys in the hostel. It was run by a committee, chaired by Mrs. Mann, who is still alive in London. I think she is an aunt of Essra Golombog? who is the editor of the Jewish Echo. Also involved were a family called Hilebraun? of whiskey connection. There was a Mr Hamson? who ran a cinema chain. In charge of the hostel was Mr and Mrs Trustee? who were the wardens, or caretakers rather, of the synagogue. Initially we stayed in a hostel. But at the start of the war they moved two or three houses down. Also in the hostel was a lady called Grodower? who looked after some aspects of the hostel function. And Mrs Chrysler? who was a cook.
My mother was employed there to do general sewing and housekeeping. This proved very useful during the war, when clothes were on coupons and all items that could be repaired were repaired. The day after I arrived I started school in Garlett Bank School?, which was about 50 yards down the hill. We were all in one class. Mainly to learn English and pick up anything else that we can. As it was June the school was due to break up in a few weeks. And at the beginning of July we went to a corporation holiday home at a place called Asgog?, near Othy? I think it was run by Glasgow Corporation, for deprived children. Whilst the scenery was lovely, the conditions in the home were attrocious. We frequently met several members of the hostel committee. They provided us with pocket money. And generally looked after our welfare. I think they received funding from other organisations, probably Church of Scotland Refugee Committee. The name I remember is a Mrs Laurie?
You mentioned problems coming into Britain. Were there problems with the German authorities when you were leaving Germany. Can you tell me more about the experiences in Germany?
I am not familiar with any problems created by the German authorities. Because I think they wanted to get rid of us. All the problems that I remember concerned the receiving country. At that time a lot of people wanted to go to America, as indeed we applied. But the American authorities had a quota system. And this was based on maintaining the ethnic mix of the various nationalities. For example, if there were five percent Germans in America, then the immigration was limited to five percent from Germany. And naturally the German quota was full and would be full for many years. Some people went to China. Quite a lot of them went to Holland. In fact towards the end my mother let a room to people and there was a continuous stream of people who stayed for a month or two, and then went away. I know that some of them just got onto a motorbike and went to Holland. I never knew what happened to them.
We tried to get into Britain after we couldn't get into America. Or possibly we tried both at the same time. We had to go through a lot of medical examinations. We had to have guarantees we wouldn't be a burden on the State. But meantime sort of life went on. We had to get identity cards. And round about 1938, early 1939, all Jewish females had to adopt the name Sarah. And all males, Israel. In order to thwart the authorities, my mother persuaded the local council I think to backdate the card that we got. The result is that my identity card does not show the name Israel. Not that she had anything against it, but it was just bloody mindedness on her part. The difficulties that were put in the way of people leaving were mainly financial. One was allowed to take a single wedding ring. In order to circumvent that my mother who was a widow - my mother joined my fathers and her wedding ring into a single ring, which for emigration purposes counted as one ring. One was not allowed any jewellery.
But quite a lot of items, in fact all items that she had over here, were sewn into fairly thick cushions. We did not recover these until after the war. We were allowed very little cutlery. And again that was secreted into the cases, together with clothes. Things that we thought were too bulky, like candlesticks, she gave away. Personal items she gave to her sisters. I think we were allowed to take out currency to the value of 30 shillings. I don't think there were any other restrictions. At least none that applied to us.
You mentioned that your mother had left her belongings with members of the family. I take it this implies that the family remained in Germany. Can you tell me a bit more about the family who remained in Germany?
From my mother's side the only one who got out was my uncle Fritz. He left in 1933. My mother had a brother and three other sisters. And the first thing we did when we came to Britain was to try to obtain entry permits for them. My aunt Frieda was a nurse in a Jewish old age home in Mannheim but she felt very reluctant to leave her patients. But eventually thought that she might come. My mother approached a number of hospitals, particularly the McAlpine Nursing Home, which was across a street from the hostel in Hill Street. I think she also approached what was then known as the Cancer Hospital, now known as Beatson Hospital? which was also across the road. And I think she got a conditional entry permit, but my aunt was too slow off the mark and although she would have been accommodated here she'd left leaving Germany too late.
My aunt Gatwood? was a teacher in Leipzig. And I think my mother got something organised for her. But she had some commitments, either it didn't suit holidays or some courses she did with the children, again it was inconvenient to leave early in the summer of 1939, and again it was too late for her. My aunt Edith was married in Berlin. And obviously was - my aunt Edith had other considerations. Her husband and two children, who were older than I was. Her married name was Munser? Her husband worked in a warehouse. And the whole family disappeared. I don't know if they made any attempt to leave. We lost track of them completely. My uncle Ernst in Falkenburg by this time had married and had a small son, probably two or three years younger than I was. He had to give up his business because it was fairly prominent in the village. The side occupied - the centre of one side of the large square, with huge name on it, Isodel Levene? Which obviously offended the local Nazis. I think he tried to set up business in Berlin.
But again we heard very little of them. I think there may have been a cousin called Paul, who went to South America. We heard from him many years after the war. My mother also had other cousins who went to America. But of the close family there is only my uncle Fritz who survived. I have a folder with a lot of Red Cross messages. During the war one could send 25 words between access powers in Britain. My aunt Gatwood I think disappeared completely. But my aunt Frieda, together with the nursing home, was sent to unoccupied France. And I have a lot of Red Cross messages going up to about 1942. At about 6 monthly intervals my mother would send 25 words which had to be non-controversial. And about 6 months later we got 25 words by return. I think the correspondence stopped round about 1942, '43. We heard nothing more from any of them for the duration of the war.
When you arrived in Britain with you and the other people coming from Germany, you had possession of identities on your passport of other names given to you in Germany. Did you and other members of the family try to get back to your own identity, by using your own names?
I don't think there was any problem, because the birth certificates hadn't been altered. It was the internal German documents. We were issued with an identity card inside Germany, with a big 'J' stamped on them. 'J' for Juda. It had our photograph on it. And also the passport had a new name on it. But once one left Germany and certainly once the war started, it didn't matter anymore. We had our own birth certificates. My mother had a marriage certificate. And these were the only ones that authorities in Britain looked at. The German documents were completely invalid.
From the religious side of your living, when you lived in Germany you mentioned that you weren't particularly a strong orthodox family but you did keep to the religious holidays and beliefs as much as possible. With the effect of everything that was happening and everything that did happen when you were in Germany and when you came to Britain, did you find that this affected your religious beliefs. Did it make you more religious or less religious?
I'm not conscious of any change. As regards religion I was not aware of it as being religion. It was more a way of life. We kept Shabbath reasonably. We had our celebration every Friday night. We went to synagogue on the festivals. We were fairly kosher. In a sense that we didn't eat pork. We probably didn't have complete segregation of dishes. But the only thing I remember about kashrut was that round about the age of 4 or 5 I was fairly ill and was prescribed a high fat diet. The doctor suggested that I should eat a lot of bacon. And my mother got a special dispensation on medical grounds from our local Rabbi.
We had quite an enjoyable time back at Glasgow. We had a fairly successful year at school. We made quite a lot of friends. And I developed ambition to go to university. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And mainly concentrated on that subject which I didn't need, although I had to take them I didn't worry about it too much. We saw as much of Glasgow and surroundings as we could. We took a tram to Berguy? to look at the waterworks. We went everywhere. Eventually when I got my bicycle many things improved. I managed to save my tram fare to school, which was one shilling and eightpence. I had pocket money of 2/6d. I got a shilling for lighting the fire in what was called the ladies room, which was a room where the committee ladies met. I got another l/6d. for lighting the kitchen fire. And I have probably never been so wealthy since.
I went everywhere I wanted to. I wasn't restricted in any way. And we undertook 2 hours off a week or a fortnight quite regularly. By 'we' I mean my friend Kurt Leiberman? He and his cousin Heinz Leiberfeldt? came over before the war to stay with a family. But because the war went on too long it was probably impossible for them to stay with the family they stayed with originally. Heinz brought his bicycle with him, but as he didn't use it he gave it to Kurt? So the two of us were very mobile. The other people in the hostel at that time were Thomas Shernberg? But he was only there for a short time, because his mother managed to stay in Glasgow. She did some domestic service, but eventually managed to get a flat and work from there. Thomas stayed with a family outside Glasgow before the war. And when he became ill his mother visited him. His father was a lawyer in Berlin and he knew what was happening and although his wife was meant to be in Glasgow only for about two or three weeks, persuaded her to hang on as long as possible. Which she did, until war was declared, and thereby saved herself. Thomas's father of course perished. The parents of all children, with very few exceptions, perished.
The people I knew best were the Friedlers? Their father perished, but their mother survived and came to Glasgow after the war. Where for a time she worked in Jeunene's? During the war we were not particularly conscious of any deprivation. We managed reasonably well on rations. The hostel was reasonably kosher. We had ample interests. And were never bored. We did not feel that we suffered in any way. With hindsight and having a family I find it extraordinary how the committee had the fortitude of looking after a crowd of kids like us. We must have been quite an odd collection. But most of us made something of ourselves. During our time at school we were not particularly worried about events in Germany, because we didn't know what was happening. We fully expected relatives to survive. But near the end of the war information came filtering through and as camps were liberated lists of survivors were distributed.
And I remember whenever new lists appeared we went to the Christian Institute in Boswell Street where the lists were displayed, to look for names. I am not aware of anybody from Glasgow finding anybody in these lists. At this time of course some of the older boys were called up for service and were in the Forces. Some of them got killed. A friend of ours, John Peyton? was wounded in France and lost a leg and came back to Glasgow where he ran a jewellers and watchmakers business until a few years ago when he died. There are not many people left in Glasgow, they naturally dispersed. Quite a lot of them went to London. Some to Canada. Quite a few to Israel.
I stayed in Glasgow with my mother. We stayed in a hostel building which, towards the end, housed people who were liberated from the camps, about 20 boys came to Glasgow, spent some time in Cutross? Then in Sinclair Drive? In Gatwick Jacobson Orphanage? And then came to Hill Street. Naturally they had many problems. And eventually, about 1948, when the hostel eventually closed, they dispersed. We didn't have a flat, so we stayed in the top floor of the hostel while Mrs. Trustee moved back in and had her own flat and also let rooms. We paid rent to her. I stayed there for all the time while I was at university. And Kurt Leiderman? stayed with us. The Friedler boys stayed with their mother, who had survived the camps. And eventually Leo Friedler went to London to work. And his mother went down shortly afterwards.
After the war I went to university. There was quite a problem getting there. I think the committee were running out of money, or thought that I was getting beyond myself. In any case there was very little encouragement to any of us to go to university. We did not get encouragement from the hostel. We did not get encouragement from school. I was not a particularly brilliant pupil at school and probably just scraped through. But there was considerable pressure to establish a 6th year in Hindland? And nobody, not just us, nobody was encouraged to go to university after 5th year. But I knew that I would not be supported if I stayed in 6th year simply to go to university. Whereas I might be supported at university if I tried hard enough. I sat the bursary exam and prepared fairly well for it. The theory was that I did reasonably well in exams in order to pass, so as not to have to prepare for the orals. And from about April onwards ignored normal school entirely.
Eventually I sat the bursary exam and was placed somewhere, but certainly not in the first hundred. But having sat the exam I was given a grant of £50 from Glasgow Corporation. And of course I had my fees paid. And this enabled me to go to university. Money of course was tight. I didn't join any organisations. Didn't even join a union. And somehow managed to survive the first year. And eventually things improved. The year I started university in 1946, was when a lot of ex-servicemen came back. And in school where they weren't keen for us to go to university, they told us that we were taking places from deserving ex-servicemen. Which we didn't really believe. But two of us applied and to our surprise both of us were accepted. The day we got our acceptance we walked into school. We had stayed - we had returned to school for a few weeks, at the start of the 6th year, to see how things would go. Because while attending school we got pocket money. Whereas hanging around waiting for the results we wouldn't have got pocket money. And the day we went in to return our books we felt we are facing a lynch mob. Because there were many people in class who were better than us, who had been persuaded not to apply.
University at that time for engineers was more than a full time job. Because three terms work were covered in two terms, so the third term could be used for practical work. We did our practical work in various firms in Glasgow. And whilst the pay was very low, we enjoyed it, but didn't do - you didn't do it for longer than absolutely necessary. In order to earn some money we then worked at building sites and other labouring jobs, where we earned about four or five times as much. During the first year we toured quite a lot on our bikes. We acquired a small tent and spent the weekends all over the country. Our first sort of major cycling tour was in the summer of 1947, when we decided to go to the continent and we were one of the sort of first tourists there. We cycled all the way to London and then across to France and then up into Germany. We eventually reached Holland, where Kurt had discovered that an aunt and her son had survived.
I don't remember how she survived, but after the war, to earn money, she set up a private cosmetics business, buying the bases of creams and then mixing various perfumes into them. The problem I remember was getting containers. And she used I think jam jars to sell coldcream. We spent about a week in Amsterdam. And then did the return journey. The following year we did something similar. Spent some time in Germany. Where my mother had discovered that a remote cousin of my fathers had survived. She was an old lady of about 75. Her daughter must have been quite old too. One of her other daughters and her daughter had perished. We discovered that a cousin of my fathers, who had gone to France, had survived in Dijon. They spent the war round about Dijon. Apparently the parents who were called Spielman, were the real cousins of my father's parents. The daughter was married to a man called Sallinger? The parents had gone to France earlier and I think the daughter joined them later with her husband and son. The son Rene was born in France. I'm not sure what happened to her parents, but I think they survived the war.
The daughter Helma Spielman? and her husband took over a disused railway signal box, some distance from Dijon, and spent the war there. Her son Rene, who is about my age, stayed with a family and for security was not told where his parents were. He had some problems after the war adjusting to the fact that his parents were so near, but had not been in touch with him. Rene is now living in Paris. He had a large family. And we visit him about every second year and he comes here sometimes over Christmas and New Year. After the war gradually one found out that people have survived. Peoples addresses of course got lost. And some people who may have survived found it difficult to get in touch with people. For example, my mother subscribed to an American magazine called "Aufbau"? Which means reconstruction. It was published in New York partly in German, partly in English. And was a sort of international search newspaper. Although it was a high quality newspaper in its own right.
Once my mother saw an announcement that a lady by the name of Valtrouter? Abrahams was celebrating her 60th birthday in London. Apparently a friend of hers had put the announcement in the paper which made Trouter Abrahams? very angry. But my mother saw the announcement and wrote to her asking her if she was the same Valtrouter? who could be second cousin of hers from Falconbourg Pomerania. And indeed this was the case. She had left Germany well before the war. Her parents had gone to Rhodesia or South Africa, or both, in the l920s. Or probably even earlier. Maybe even before the First World War. But had always come back to Germany for the birth of their daughters. They had two daughters. When things got bad in Germany the daughters went to South Africa, or Rhodesia, and spent the war there. By the 50's or 60's they decided they couldn't stand the political climate in South Africa and came back to Britain. When my mother got in touch with her in London Trouter said oh, she would be coming up round about Christmas or New Year, when she had a holiday.
So my mother, who must have been about - oh, 65 at the time, thought that as she was old she should come up to Glasgow as soon as possible. Which she did. The implication being that as she was 65 she wouldn't live much longer. As it turned out she lived for another 20 years. And Trouter? came up regularly to Glasgow and came up to visit us many times even after my mother died. She is still in London. We generally keep in touch through my wife. There were a number of distant relatives who turned up in New York. I think my mother put a notice into the newspaper. But by this time we had lost all hope of any close members of the family having survived. There was a faint hope that they had been captured by the Russians, but were not allowed to communicate. But this turned out not to be the case. I'm not sure how my mother was affected. Although we talked about the relatives - it was sort of too long ago really to be very sad. We tried to contact as many people as possible who may have been in camps with them who had survived. But we got no information. The situation in Glasgow of course was that life has to go on. There were various refugee societies. There was a sort of national one. And there was a sort of local Glasgow one. I was a fairly close community.
Some of the German refugees didn't mix too happily with the local Jewish community. There was a lot of misunderstanding between the two communities. The ones from Poland, Russian origin, thought the ones who originated from Germany weren't really Jews. And the German ones thought that the ones who originated from Poland and Russia were an uncivilised lot. It remained, to some extent, for many years. My friend, as he was, still calls me a Yecki? Although he is more of a Yecki? than I am. The communities eventually grew more together simply because second or third generation imigrants from Eastern Europe became less rigid. And the ones from Germany became more integrated. The problems to some extent were identified in the book that was recently published about a Jewish community in Glasgow. Although they got a number of things wrong.
Quite a lot of us immediately after the war when we had slightly more time, joined various Zionist organisations. Mainly Habonim? And Beniakiva? I joined Habonim? And found that it took an increasing part of my time, to the extent that I didn't join any university societies, until well after I graduated. I enjoyed the atmosphere. My politics were moderate on Habonim? That is socialist Zionism. We went to the camps in the summer. Until I started work. I didn't have sufficient holidays. I remember the first camp in 1947. When the United Nations resolution, or something like that, allowed the establishment of Israel. We followed politics really closely. And the surprising thing is that although we were supporters, very few of us in Harbonim? actually went to Israel. My friend Gurt went there. He naturally cycled there. He cycled to Venice, got a boat from Venice. When I was in the army later I visited him. He has since left Israel. We did not take part in any formal political organisations. But we were naturally well informed and had our own opinions.
I was one of the youngest in my class in university. I think the second youngest. And was treated as a baby by all the returning ex-servicemen. And sheltered from the evil influences of the union. This lasted until my fourth year when my friends in class, Don Martin and Alec MacFaddian? The names are significant because they are the order in which we were placed in the class. Decided it was time for me to grow up. Don, being a Jamaican, received food parcels from his family in Jamaica. The food parcels contained bottles of rum. My first experience of alcohol was therefore Jamaican rum. We were generally a very sober lot, partly because of the economic circumstances. I stayed in the Hill Street hostel, although by this time it wasn't a hostel anymore, until I joined the army in 1952.
We were issued with our gas masks and evacuated to various farms in Perthshire. About eight of us stayed in a farm. ... Farm?, near Glencass? Together with my mother, who looked after domestic matters. And Miss Dempster, who gave general assistance and assisted in the local village school. We were there for about six months, during the period of what is called 'the phoney war'. Again we had a most enjoyable time. The farmer, Mr Howey?, and his wife, were very kind. We demolished their apple store. We were left to our own devices. Most of us had never been on a farm. There were, however, some others who were billetted out to cottages and didn't have such a nice time. That was a time when I discovered things like chestnuts. How to play conkers. How to drive a tractor.
We went mainly to the village school. But one or two of the older boys went to Perth Academy. By this time our English was quite reasonable and we could catch up on the normal subjects. We were still in a class ourselves, but we were given quite a wide range of subjects. Towards the early part of 1940, when it appeared that the war was going to last a long time, more complicated arrangements were made for accommodating us. A large house in Skellmorley?, overlooking the Clyde, was used as an evacuation hostel. This time for between 60 and 80 children. But also including evacuees from local Glasgow families. Initially there was school included in the house. We had about 7 or 8 teachers for the various subjects, in addition to domestic staff. My mother accompanied us to Skellmorley? But when the war became serious, because she was over 16, she was classed as an enemy alien. And any boys on attaining the age of 16 automatically became enemy aliens and had to leave Skellmorley? because it was a sensitive area. It overlooked all shipping in the Clyde and people had to go to Glasgow. Which was not a sensitive area at the time.
Within a few months of going there my mother had to leave because of this. But it appears not to have bothered me. She was given permission to visit me once a month. She had to get permission from the Glasgow police to leave Glasgow. She had to get permission from the local police to visit a protected area. And then on the way back had to report back to Glasgow. It was fairly complicated. One day she decided to take me to Largs? And had a huge folder of permits which she had to complete and we had to visit Largs? police station to tell them that we had arrived. With hindsight it appears a bit of a farce. The conditions in the hostel initially were primitive. My mother and another lady, Mrs Suskint?, looked after domestic matters. I think they cooked for about 60 to 80 people on two or three primus stoves. But we were not conscious of any problems. Eventually proper equipment was brought in and more permanent staff. My mother and Mrs Suskint? remained friends for the rest of their lives. And Mrs Suskint?, whose sons were at the hostel, were also friends of the family. One son, Gunter, later died. But Werner is still locally resident.
In Birkenwood? we were completely wild. When the teachers were there we were given a qualifying examination, which at that time was the deciding factor for going from primary to secondary. We did extremely badly, because we had no idea how to sit examinations and particularly examinations where one had to answer questions yes or no. We knew we did badly, but we felt that the procedure was unfair. So a crowd of us raided the cupboard in which the examination papers were kept and altered the answers to give us a better mark.
We thought very little of our teachers. They were catering for kids that they weren't used to. I'm not sure if they appreciated our problems. But probably because of language difficulties they thought we were pretty dim. Not surprisingly after we had altered the examination papers we did extremely well in the qualifying exam. It soon became evident that teaching in the hostel - the house was called Birkenward?, and is still there incidentally. Teaching stopped in Birkenward? and we went to school in Greenock.
We went to Greenock High. Went every day by bus from Skellmorley? And really our schooling started there. We generally did fairly well and were there from about middle l940 to l941. We participated in the life of the school, which at that time was mainly concerned with collecting waste paper. And as we came from an outlaying village we naturally did extremely well, because we were the only ones collecting paper from Skellmorley? We went swimming in the Clyde quite a bit. And collected a lot of debris from ships which had been torpedoed, but were limping home. At one stage we collected hundreds of bamboo canes which were ideal for making bows and arrows. A number of people had narrow escapes from being shot. We got sixpence pocket money. But the fare to the nearest cinema in Largs? was fourpence return. The cinema entry was two and a half pence, which for a total sum of six and a half pence means that we couldn't go to cinema every week. The walk was about five miles each way, which was too far in bad weather. So we went to Wimsbay station? which was about a mile away, and helped passengers carrying baggage from the train to the boat and vice versa, for tips, to enable us to make up sufficient money to go to the pictures and maybe have a bag of chips.
We appeared to have been extremely well fed, in spite of wartime restrictions. I don't think there were any problems about our physical wellbeing. But our mental wellbeing was not too well looked after. When the normal teachers had left we were looked after by people who I think were limited to giving afaida? lessons and were not too competent. We had considerable problems with them. They had no training in looking after children and there was considerable physical punishment for minor transgressions. Once when we had done something trivial like speaking at meals the meal was abandoned, which in effect created a revolt and we smashed the glasshouse in the grounds. Which again resulted in the committee from Glasgow coming down to read the riot act. But we were not too worried about things like that. We were fairly good at surviving by this time. We were a mixed crowd, refugees and local Glasgow kids. There are one or two that I still remember. There's Mia Getsils? who runs the local kosher delicatessen in Gifnock? And there are one or two others who I have lost trace of.
We must have been quite a horrible crowd, looking back on it. Eventually the hostel was closed after about a year. And we were sent to another hostel in Castle Douglas. This was also a Jewish hostel, but appears to have had a better class of kid. Our reputation had preceeded us and it took some time to mix with the longer established people in Castle Douglas. The house there was a converted hotel called Enefbee House? Which was under the supervision of Mr Michaels. We went to the local school in Castle Douglas. Some of the ones who were older went to Cagoobree? We were not very welcome in the local school. Again because the curriculum for Scotland wasn't unified and as we arrived shortly before an examination in Castle Douglas we naturally did badly in an examination we weren't prepared for. On top of that we discovered that because of the shortage of paper the examination questions were written on a blackboard the night before. The locals knew that but we didn't. So the locals looked in through the window to look at the questions, which of course we didn't do. But the situation was getting unsatisfactory. Our education was suffering. We did well in some things we could do on our own. History was a weakness. Geography I did well at, because I did the geography of Canada when I was in Greenock and the following year we also did the geography of Canada in Castle Douglas.
In third year I again did the geography of Canada when I came back to Glasgow to Hindland? The only geography I ever learned was about Canada and I did that three times. We, I think, were destined to leaving school after our third year, partly because the reports we had were so bad, and partly because we were not reckoned of deserving any better. At this point I decided that war or no war I ought to get back to Glasgow. I did badly in Castle Douglas because I arrived shortly before the exams. The only way to leave Castle Douglas was to get myself expelled. And I wanted to go up into third year even though I did badly in second year. So I persuaded the headmaster to credit me with having passed the second year exams so that I could go into third year when I got back to Glasgow. My behaviour deteriorated so that I would be expelled from the hostel in Castle Douglas. And various people came down to question me about my behaviour, but when my mother came down I told her what the reason was, which made her a great deal happier. So about August I left Castle Douglas, went back to the hostel in Hill Street and went to Hindland, where I started in my third year. Again, as the curriculum was not unified I didn't do too well for the first few months, but eventually I did reasonably well. The situation in Glasgow at the time was that about half the people had academic ambitions. The other half wanted to get jobs.
Can I just take you back when you mentioned a farm in Perthshire. Can you give any information on that farm. Do you know the name of the farm?
The farmers name was Howie. A Mr and Mrs Howie. Their son is called David. And the farm is called Ardgaith? In Glencass? The parlour maid was called Emily. It was a pleasant existence there. I saw a few years ago on television, when he was being interviewed about something, he was still recognisable.
Can I move on to your religious and political views. What happened in your youth was a lot to do with religion and politics. Did this affect you in your years that you were growing up?
Very much so. My first encounter with religious problems was when I was fairly ill at the age of about 5 or 6. And my mother had to get a dispensation to give me a high fat diet, which in those days meant bacon. I didn't see why she had to get permission. We had never had bacon before, but it struck me as funny. By the time I was about 10 I asked the usual silly questions, why does God permit so and so - obviously these questions can't be answered. In the hostel the teachers tried to impose fairly strict religious discipline.
This is the hostel in Birkenward? in Skellmorley? where we were evacuated. And then Enesbee House? in Castle Douglas. We were quite a rebellious lot and didn't take kindly to what we considered as religious indoctrination. The result is that I am not religious, but I am a strong supporter of Israel. I am a non-religious Zionist. Like probably many Israelis, to judge by the news. My politics have always been Left until fairly recently. There is a family tradition of what is known on the continent as social democracy. But tradition doesn't come into it really. I was a member of the university Labour club. Simply because joining the Communist club didn't seem good for one's job prospects. I was in the same dilemma as Nigel Grant, who is now Professor of Education. Although he would probably deny it. Whilst I am still sort of Left inclined, I'm completely - disenchanted with the British Labour Party. Probably because of the influence of the extreme Left and their attitude to Israel.
The situation we now have is that we have a sort of anti-Israel Labour shadow foreign secretary. And a fairly benign Conservative government as far as Israel is concerned. I find that - I find that nowadays I don't take part in many political discussions. With hindsight, probably what attracted me to politics was that one could spend endless hours arguing. The same is probably true about religion. The advantage, of course, of a place like Warwick is where you don't talk politics or religion, is that you can develop a conversation style which is devoid of those two subjects. What surprised me recently is that the number of people who listen to Radio Scotland. I listened to Radio Scotland about 8 years ago when it was appalling. I never listened to it since. Until about two weeks ago. I was interviewed by the BBC for a programme on Kristalnacht. And practically everybody in the office heard it. I then started listening to Radio Scotland again. Which turned out to be quite a good radio station nowadays.
Can you tell me something about when you got married. How you met?
After I graduated I had more free time. I worked in Kilmarnoch. But the journey time was spent sleeping, so I didn't really miss out any waking hours. I joined the Student International Club and it was quite a jolly crowd and I met my wife there. She had done teacher training and was working in various schools in Lanarkshire. I'd also met Helena Moss and one or two other people, who I am still friendly with. My wife came from a fairly large family. From what I call the backwoods. And the closest they got to Glasgow was within five miles. At that time civilisation stopped within a few hundred yards of Charing Cross, as far as I was concerned. As an aside, the South side of Glasgow was completely unknown territory.
We got married in 1960. It was a fairly smallish wedding, because we couldn't afford anything else. We had bought a house in Cathcart? about two weeks before we got married. The deeds followed us to Switzerland, where we signed them and returned them. When we came back the house was empty of course. We spent some time with my wife's family until we collected enough furniture. My wife was not Jewish. We didn't let that bother us a great deal, we're not particularly religious, we're not religious at all. It has not been any problem. As far as the children are concerned my mother used to take them to Garners Hill? on Shabbath. We keep one or two things.
Like a primitive Sada? and Halloga?
The relationship between you and your wife, how would this relate to the problems that you had and then when you were growing up through the problem times and then you were developing into this new life and you got married. And the relationship between you and your wife, did you find that a difficult time.
How long were you married before you had your children?
The main problem about getting married was that I was the first one of my crowd who got married. The only advice I got from older friends, those were the ones who were at university with me, most of them were ex-servicemen. And their advice was very colourful. I got no advice from my mother. I wouldn't have listened to any advice. My mother, of course, was a little bit disappointed. She liked my wife, but she would have preferred me to marry a Jewish girl. There was a problem with Glasgow, inthat we met very few Jewish people outside Habinem? And once one became about 22 - or maybe a bit older, 25, 26, one grew out of Habinem? and there was no venue for meeting other people. The Jewish Institute was out. My circle of friends was really university based.
I think my mother was a little bit disappointed. But she got used to it. I'm not aware that I had any problems. But I should hate to ask my wife for confirmation of this. I think she makes allowances for me. Most of us who went through the war in the hostels are probably peculiar in some ways. Obviously we don't think so. We've probably adjusted after about 30 or 40 years.
But immediately after the war we were probably most peculiar. In a place like a hostel where you are an isolated community, people form their own fantasies. This to some extent is a pet subject of mine. It's like people in prison, they've got their own - their own language. People in hostels they get a distorted view of reality. That's why we've always had a very wide circle of friends. We have a fairly comfortable life. We've not inherited many bad habits from our kids.
Looking back on my youth and little attention I paid to adults, I despair of passing any advice onto my lot. My hopes for them are now at the very minimum like hoping they will put the dishes away or pick up their clothes or shut the door. I think the only thing that can be passed on is a basic way of life. Basic values which they don't even appreciate are being passed on. But in about l0 or 20 years they may realise that certain things happened that caused certain results and so on. I regard present kids as fundamentally ignorant of the world. Maybe it's a good thing. It's a sign that the world is basically a more pleasant place than it was 50 years ago. We, of course, were very conscious of what went on, when our life could have depended on it. But my kids I think are reasonably well adjusted. We used to think that their bad habits, whatever, until we talked to other parents and realised that ours were normal. We came to the conclusion that if they achieve their potential that's all we could ask for. We didn't push them into a certain mould. The boys were not particularly academic. My daughter is. And therefore is on the path accordingly. We try to show them a good example. We don't make racist remarks, we don't use foul language. But somehow they acquire all these things. Not only racist remarks, the latest craze used to be football slogans. One doesn't know where they get this from.
Obviously their friends or they hear it on the radio. It's because of now having brought up kids that I mentioned earlier that I admire the people who run the hostels. We must have been quite terrible. But the kids survived, and it's a different world now. We used to think nothing of a good weekend going cycling or hill walking. These things are now very much a minority sport. Partly because of television and partly because of a general increased wealth. One of the things that I can exert some influence in and that is ensure that they have a reasonable appreciation of the value of money and that things have to be earned. Their phrase for that is that I am mean. But they'll appreciate it eventually.
What are your children's names?
The boys are twins. They were born 12th December l966. Which makes them 22. They are Andrew and Michael. My daughter is 2 years younger precisely. She was born on the 12th of December 1968. And her name is Irene. She is Irene Catherine Marchand. Which sounds a mouthful. But I wanted her called Irene after my mother. Who thought one shouldn't call people after other living members of the family. But jokingly I invited her if she didn't like it she knew what remedy to do. She thought it was funny luckily. Catherine is a very good friend of ours. Andrew was, partly to please my mother, my father's name was Abraham and she thought Andrew was a close approximation to it. She didn't like the name Abraham. His name is Andrew Graham. Graham was a very good friend of ours who has died. And Michael's second name is Thomas, from Thomas Shernburg. Who has also died. The kids were very happy for many years. It's only lately when they've started working and realised that after a day's work one is still expected to do something in the house and that their free time isn't all theirs - that problems have arisen. But we get over them.
I would like to ask you about your activities within the community. You were actively involved, and your mother was actively involved, in the past. And today has you activity within the community changed?
It has changed slightly. My activities were not, I would consider, all that great. I was a member of various clubs and attended synagogue reasonably. But nowadays whilst I'm still a seatholder I actually don't go to services. One of the reasons is that the seats are so uncomfortable. And I've never felt comfortable sitting in Garnett Hill? Probably I have - or had, an inherent weakness in my back, which eventually gave me a slipped disc. But I could never sit still in Garnett Hill for longer than about 15 minutes. Which didn't make me very popular. I am not religious, but I support Garnetts Hill mainly as an institution. And I would feel lost without Garnett Hill. I lost touch for about oh, 10, 15 years, once Koscoff? died. The place didn't look the same without Reverent Herschoff? and Dr Koscoff? And since they left they ran through a succession of Rabbis. None of them were particularly impressive.
I can now quite happily go to Garnett Hill when there is something on to do with the archive centre or some of the lectures they give, and have a look at the place without actually having to take part in sort of formal prayer. I could never stand the seats there. I really found the services too long. But I have a soft spot for Garnett Hill, which I could never have for any other synagogue. I go to communal functions in Giffnock? Fundraising functions, visits by Israeli politicians, or whatever. But I have a very sort of open relationship with Garnett Hill. Garnett Hill has always been a law unto itself. It's been a slightly anarchistic synagogue. There's - the British Jews and the Garnett Hill Jews, which is probably what I like about it. Because there's a streak of anarchism in me.
... Jewish scout group, the normal scouts, and Irene was in a Jewish brownie pack. I still don't know the name of the brownie leader other than Brown Owl. We have no active religious life. But I'm sort of on the fringes of the community. I pick and choose what I take part in.
Can you tell me when you first became Dr Marchant?
I did my first degree in electrical engineering from 1946 to 1950. I then, as is common with engineers, did some postgraduate training. I then joined the army. I then worked for a few years. And I was obviously wanting to get on, but at that time the way to get on was to go to London. And there was no way I wanted to move out of Glasgow. And the opportunity arose, at work, to get a scholarship to do three years research at Glasgow University, from 1961 to '64. I started just a year after I got married. One of the advantages was that we stayed in Cathcart? My mother still stayed in town. And my wife worked in a school in Shepperson, or Spring Boyg? So it was most convenient. I acquired an old car. I dropped my wife off at the High Street to catch a train to Spring Boyg? I then called at my mothers for breakfast. I then went to the university. On the way back I called at my mothers for some tea. And then went home to have my supper. It was a very good life, because in those days officially at work one got three weeks holidays. Whereas teachers had 8 weeks. But being at university I could also take 8 weeks. So we had very long holidays, usually in Greece. It was a very pleasant time. Apart from that I was always keen on swimming and the university had just opened the swimming pool in the Stevenson Centre? Which means a very enjoyable 3 years. My mother was very pleased because I think she always wanted me to do that. But after I got my first degree there was no way I would have spent another 3 years at university, because I was keen for my mother to stop work. Because in l950 odd she would be over 60. So once we had accummulated some money and had a house and I got a scholarship, it became possible.
Can you tell me more about your father's family?
My father married twice. My mother was his second wife. His first wife had died. There were two children from the first marriage. But when their mother died I think they emmigrated to America. My father met my mother when my mother's brother Ernest was going to get married to somebody on my father's side. That marriage didn't happen. And my mother and my father were married instead.
Where were they married?
I don't know. I would have to look it up. We have a book, sort of family book. In Scotland and in Britain you have the family bible where they write things in. On the continent they are much more formalised and they have a family book. And they write all these things in it. I'm not sure where they got married. But probably in my mother's place in Falkenburg in Pomerania. Because at the time they were married my grandmother would still be alive. My mother's mother. So probably they got married there. My father had a brother and they were both in the sort of meat business. They didn't see eye to eye so my father's brother, I think, had an ordinary butchers shop, and my father was a sort of meat inspector at a slaughter house. The superintendent or director of the slaughter house, I think was related, because one of my earliest memories is visiting them on the premises and seeing a lot of open drains running with blood. It didn't particularly worry me, because my main concern was counting the pebbles on the driveway.
I've always been fascinated with counting things. I can't walk up steps without counting them. I have a photograph of myself sitting on a step, obviously studying pebbles. In this photograph the cousin of mine, Margo - she died during the war - and we were very close as families. I'm not sure how close our actual relationship was, but the old lady who would be about the age of my father. My father was l3 years older than my mother. So they were quite old. She and one daughter survived the war. Although she was blind. And I briefly saw them after the war in about 1947. Before she died. I don't know what family is left on that side. My father probably had a cousin called Spielman. And that is the French connection.
The cousin is called Helma Sallinger? Her maiden name was Spielman. She had one son who was born in France, but only just. When they fled to France. His name is Rene. He is a psychiatrist. He came to Glasgow the year I joined the army. He must have been about l5. And was looked after by a friend of mine, who tried his best to dissuade him from buying a kilt. We lost touch for very many years. I knew he was something in the medical line. But I didn't try all that hard, but it wasn't all that easy to get in touch. But a penfriend - a penfriend of my wifes when she was at school and had continuous contact with, had married a doctor in Paris. And in conversation I mentioned that a cousin of mine was also a doctor, possibly in Paris. And I knew the name. And I asked him to look up the medical register when he got back.And he found two or three Dr Sallinger. And eventually we got into contact again.
During school holidays we - we generally went to Arban? for the 6 to 8 weeks. But to show the kids that the world was bigger than Lamlash?, during the October week we tried to go somewhere else. And as it turned out we usually went to Paris and visited my cousins. Last year they came here and stayed for about ten days. This year over the September weekend, because of the very cheap fares from Glasgow, we went there for four days. The kids don't mix too well because their ages are just completely wrong. They have children of 25, 26 and 5 to l5. And there's just no mixing. Although on two occasions the younger ones have been here and enjoyed themselves.
The Sallingers spent the war in France. She had her parents with her, the Spielmann's. They were in Dijon region. I'm not sure where her parents spent the war. But the Sallingers hid themselves in the country. Although it is difficult to get precise information, it appears that they took over a disused level crossing fairly close to where Rene was looked after by a family. He was not aware that his parents were alive, for obvious security reasons. And when they were reunited after the war he had great difficulty in accepting them. But eventually things turned out alright. Rene came to Britain about l952 for a holiday. And I visited the family in Dijon. In l952 France was still suffering from the war and things were pretty rough. But now they are fairly prosperous. And he has developed a taste for McAllen? whiskey.
You mentioned that he rejected his parents. Can you tell me something more about that?
I don't know much about it because he doesn't really like talking about that period very much. He obviously resented that his parents hadn't contacted him. But you cannot trust a 4 or 5 or 6 year old with your life. And that is why they kept knowledge of their whereabouts away from him. I think he's obviously got over it now. But he never talks about it. And the way the information came out I think is from his mother to my mother to me. We never raise the subject and he doesn't raise it.
Is that even now that he doesn't talk about it?
No. He doesn't reject his parents now. But he just doesn't mention anything to do with the war.
He doesn't want to talk about the past?
I've been in his company when somebody mentions something out of general interest, but he didn't encourage the conversation. There are lots of odds and ends that come to mind concerning the war. My mother always wanted to erect a memorial for her sisters in Preerhall? at Mirrorhill cemetery? But never really got round to it. I'm not sure if she really wanted, well if she would have been determined she would have done it. She probably thought she ought to do it, but didn't know whether she should push it very hard. I've given it some thought, without coming to any conclusion. Because many people in Glasgow lost relatives and there wouldn't really be room at Mirrorhill? for all the tablets if they were to put memorials up for them.
I was going through my mother's papers a few months ago and I came across a registration form for the memorial register in Israel, Yad Vashem. I don't know if she ever completed a form or whether she got the form and didn't complete it and didn't send it. I've wanted to complete it for the last, oh, year or so. And there recently was an advert in the Echo for people looking for names to add to it. But at the moment life is very busy and these things are always - take second place. My mother left her affairs in very good order and quite a lot of photographs have the names of the people added to them, although the relationship isn't clear. She's got a complete diary of dates when we came here and what happened the day we arrived in London, the day we arrived in Glasgow, the day we were evacuated and all the rest of it. She probably did this in the last 10 years of her life. The writing is fairly uniform. But I find bits of it with a register of dates and names and peoples Hebrew names in one place. There's a list of dates concerning when we came here. She got things in fairly good order. She's got all the correspondence with my aunt, one of her sisters. During the war one could send what was called 'Red Cross letters'. Twenty five words of nothing, which were permitted. I've got several of those. Now reading them one can obviously make out one or two code words.
There's one congragulating me on my Barmitzvah, which of course couldn't be mentioned. I forget what word was used in its place. After the war my mother, partly as a hobby, instituted claims against the German government. Partly for restitution of her pension and partly for other matters. And this was greatly helped by having all the documents. She still had the bill for the payment of the furniture removal from Germany to Britain. And that was reimbursed. The last l5, 20 years of her life were very comfortable because she had a good pension. And fairly good compensation. Ones view of the world must change after 40 or 50 years and I noticed that, maybe only in the last couple of years, I can talk rationally about Germans, I can actually talk to Germans. When I visited my uncle Fritz in a nursing home in Baden - Baden Baden, I was actually quite civil to them, which surprised me. Probably the ones that are there, certainly the ones under 40, are probably reasonably blameless. It's slightly uncomfortable for me to speak German. Partly because it's a lousy language, but partly for historical reasons. When we go abroad the sequence of languages is we try English, my wife tries French, she then tries German. If they don't understand her German I try my German. But that may change in the next few years.
I'm no longer filled with the hatred of the Germans that I had, till oh, maybe 1960. I thought wasting atom bombs on Japan was a waste of a good bomb which could have been dropped on Germany. But things change. And most of the people in Germany now are post-war generation. They can't really do much. But I feel that a lot of things could have been handled differently. Nowadays emigration from all sorts of places into Britain, America, Canada, is easy. And life would have been different if it would have been easy before the war. So to some extent I've still got considerable resentment for the way other countries treated Jewish emigration. But I have a fairly relaxed view of the world. I don't particularly wish the Germans any harm anymore. I'm prepared to tolerate them now, which is a great improvement.
This is a diary which my mother made up. This is my uncle Fritz. And this is Hermann Marchand. He must be a son of my father's first marriage. Now I know my mother tried to get him a visa to come to America. So these are all addresses you see. There's a note of my father's people in case I need them.
This is something that your mother had written for you? You said you might have passports?
Yes. My mother wrote - after the war she wrote to somebody in Falcenburg. Either just generally like - I don't know, maybe in some villages they have a Lord Mayor, but - the head man or somebody. And she got a reply from somebody who said he knew nothing about the property or anything. But she recognised the name, it was somebody she was at school with. So there was lying and - My father, he was born - in 1st February '77 in Gelsenkirchen, where I was born. Mosaic religion. They didn't call them Jewish.
The official name was Mosaic - From Moses or something?
So they wouldn't use the word Jewish?
Wouldn't use the word Jewish. It's only after - when Hitler called people Jewish.
And you had a passport with a 'J' on it?
Yes. You see these are cables. June '41, November '41. From my aunt in occupied France. Desperate to get an affidavit to come to Britain.
What does it actually say?
'Received card of 17th May. Obtain urgently affidavits giving my date of birth, confirmation of a passage and country. Otherwise liberation, freedom, impossible. Travel via Lisbon to America'.
And did she manage to do that?
You didn't hear anything else after that?
Oh no. At that time one had to go and collect them.
This one is '41. What does that one say?
This is to Hill Street in Glasgow you see, to the hostel you see. 'I'm in good health. Received your photo'. Trudi is another - a sort of cousin from Berlin who actually left and went to America. And to get her to provide immigration papers to America.
This is what this cable is saying?
So that cable was saying that she was leaving to go to America?
No. No. She was asking for us to ask Trudi, to get the papers.
That was the last one?
That was probably the last one. This is the camp she was at. In the Pyrenees. These are the Red Cross letters. The instructions for writing Red Cross letters. 25 words saying nothing. Didn't say that, but that's what it means. You would say 'I am in good health, how are you'. And the flimsiest paper you used you see. This is Red Cross. You see you wrote to the Red Cross in Switzerland and they copied it and passed it on so you didn't write secret messages on paper.
I don't know the tie-up, my father had - there was a person known as a Dutch granny. Because she couldn't speak German. And she stayed near us, she was ancient. And she may have been a second wife of my father's father. They came through Holland sort of. Now I'm not sure this is anything to do with it or not, but this is - I can almost tell you the date - this tells us I had my Barmitzvah. I was - I had my confirmation, 7th of March. That was '42. Now - that is a copy of what we sent to them. We would send that to them.
And they would give you a copy showing what they have sent?
That is why it is on British Red Cross paper?
'Just received your letter. Regards'. We would send that to them and they would write and reply to that. And this is Birkenward Hostel? in Skellmolly? So the Red Cross would send the message over and they would use the same paper to send you the message back?
Yes. It was a weird world.
And would you be willing for these to go into the archive?
Oh, eventually. I don't mind, but I wouldn't part with them just now.
And you have the actual passports somewhere?
Yes. My mother kept a file of the restitution claims. And a lot of - there were sort of standard rates for interupted education. And so on. My mother had a typewriter and just - on and on and on. But the Germans were quite keen to pay. All they needed was a reasonable reason as it turned out.
This was much later?
Oh aye. In the 50's.
After Israel was there?
That's right. And all the - the East Germans reputed our claims. It's only in the last few months actually that they said they might look at some claims. They claim that the post-war East Germans are completely different from the wartime Germans. Therefore we aren't liable. That sort of thing is okay as a hobby. But if you really get too involved with it - You see she had to get permission. Skellmorley? was a protected area. It overlooked the Clyde you see, the shipping. And my mother being an enemy alien - she had to get an invitation from the matron in Birkenward? Take that to the police in Glasgow, to get a permit to travel to Wimsbay? When she got to Wimsbay? she had to register with the local policeman, whose name was Burgess, to say that she had arrived. Spend a few hours with me. And then go back to Glasgow. And in theory she should have reported back to the police in Glasgow. But I think they waived that.
This would all be before she naturalised?
Oh, it was during the war. The only GP we knew -
What year was this that she was reporting to the police?
'41. 1941. March '42, this is asking her - inviting her to stay with us for my Barmitzvah. I had my Barmitzvah in Skellmorley? They didn't really encourage us to have a Barmitzvah. And my mother got a bit upset and kicked up a stink, you know, she wanted me to have a Barmitzvah. And that is why it was a bit late, in March I think.It takes a long time digging through it. The typewritten stuff isn't bad. A lot of these things are copies of documents. Certified copies of documents. The Germans go crazy.
They have to stamp everything?
Yes. This is just a reference to the social worker in 1926. But you had to get it stamped. That is from her - there was a craft course or whatever you call it. 1927, is a copy of something. The copy is dated 1927. Where the original is I do not know. Maybe they didn't issue originals. But it's - it's a funny world. All these copies were done - She probably decided to get everything copied when she - before she got married. But a lot of the stuff she needed I think for visa preparations for America. But this was ten years earlier, she probably thought they would come in handy sometime.
Mrs Mann is an aunt of Ezra Colombourg? She is still alive, but in London. Still quite a with-it lady. And Hampson? Oh, he must be gone quite a long time ago. He used to own a chain of little cinemas. It's my intention to look the stuff out and get copies. But possibly if one wanted them for an exhibition I will put them all together. If there is a special -
Next year it is the 50th Anniversary Year of the Reunion of the Kindertransport?
Now the kindertransport, do you know what that was. That was children on their own. Unaccompanied children. Now I didn't come like that. Obviously if I wanted to go to this they wouldn't make an issue of it. What they said was they want to seat the people according to where they came from. Which is nonsense to me. What they should do is seat them according to where they were in Britain. Because where they came from they would scarcely know each other. Maybe they are looking towards where they came from and they might start a conversation, if there was something with their backgrounds, similar backgrounds? Because nobody cares where they came from. At least anybody I know - I mean they've wiped Germany clean out of their mind. They do not care where they came from in the same place. What people remember is where they landed when they came here. Where they spent the war years. And we've got a reunion for people from Birkenward?
You were talking about the kindertransport and you were saying that people don't think about or care about where they actually came from.
They are thinking more about where their life started when they came here?
That's correct I think, yes. I think - it may depend on people's age. I mean I left when I was 10. I've no great attachment to where I came from. I have no attachment even to German literature. And it's completely meaningless to me where I came from. And to all my friends it's the same.
They feel the same way.
It is generally known that people don't want to think too much about it?
No, it wouldn't enter their mind. And when I saw that there it seemed such a strange idea, it just wouldn't have occurred to me that people would be accommodated in where they came from. When people came here they came from all sorts of places. They either came to Windermere or to a place in Edinburgh or Glasgow, and it's those people they know. It just wouldn't make sense. Now I can imagine older people who left Germany, maybe when they were 40 or 50. If they wanted a reunion, or would have wanted one 20 years ago, then they would have. But even that I find strange. But that is actually why I haven't replied to that. I hope that one day you will be able to find time amongst all the busy life that you have now to gather up some pieces for us?
I've started - looking at stuff. But it's only I came across the stuff a year or two ago. But we've got stuff in three places. And I kept - my mother kept practically everything that could be relevant, because she just didn't know when they would come in handy. Most of the stuff did come in handy. I've kept everything. Except that I haven't deciphered it. Because the German stuff isn't all that easy to decipher. But if there is a suitable occasion, like say a theme, - how people came to Britain. When people came to Britain in l900 they may have papers from that and photographs. When people came to Britain in l939. And maybe the ones who came after the war. There are sort of different themes - the people coming here.
Das Interview ist als Audio-Datei abrufbar: → British Libary - The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, however no transcript is an exact translation of the spoken word, and this document is intended to be a guide to the original recording, not replace it.
Dr. Ernest Marchand interviewed by Louise Coutts, Recording date: 1988-12-01. Shelf mark: C0410/061