Interview by Nicola Williamson - Washington School
My name is Eileen Mary Eisenklam and I was born on the 10th May 1929. My father was a manufacturing agent and when I was asked a question at school when I was 10 I had no idea what it meant but he was self employed and my Mother was definitely at home- she looked after the family. I had one sister who was older, 2 and a half years older, called Audrey. It was a normal growing up, on weekdays we were at school and at weekends in the Summer we accompanied our parents to tennis tournaments, they would play tennis. During the winter we went to the church on Sunday afternoon to Sunday school and we went to the local school- we played and had lots of lovely times with our friends. The school was very formal I remember being sat on my Headmistress’s lap because I had difficulty learning to read. I was also born left handed and I was forced to be right- handed because the inkwell was on the right which meant that if I was left- handed I had blotches all over my paper and I can’t really write well at all. I was writing much better before they interfered.
I don’t really remember the signal I think the whole thing really happened in one day when we were taken away from our parents and evacuated. My Father was called up and he was away most of the war. He used to come home on leave carrying his gun and I used to wonder whether it was loaded or unloaded- it frightened me a bit. He served in England because he was a driver and a mechanic and they discovered in the end that he couldn’t see in the dark and they thought he’d be more of a liability than otherwise. I think he quite enjoyed being away from home in the company of other men and they were all killed except him because they were sent off to fight in Italy. My Father lost all interest in the war when he discovered that young men could be so destroyed – I think it was a real shock.
I often wondered because I was in the bombing part of it I wondered if I would survive . I can tell you more later on. I was in various places during the five years of the war and the community were the base and you didn’t go the school. I can’t really know how to answer because the communities were different and I would say that when the bombs came down when I was there you had a sense of community. For instance we had a table in the kitchen where if friends stayed we all slept in it so we slept one way or the other way sometimes with our feet outside if there were too many, if there were fewer you slept full length. The food was awful, I was a growing child and there just wasn’t enough food which one would want. For instance my own 2 daughters are both 5 inches taller than I am simply because they ate 2 dinners- one school dinner and one dinner at home so they had the meat and all the growing materials. We were well, we didn’t eat sweets because there were no sweets, there was nothing sweet you know – it was very boring food. I grew to like dried egg.
Can you remember any funny incidents that happened
Oh plenty! Shall I tell you the story from the beginning? It makes it much easier for me. One day I really had no idea that a war was coming, but my mother simply put us in our macs and we had a gas mask and a carrier bag and a label as you know, and we were taken to the school where we went where there was a stream of double decker busses, put on a bus said goodbye to our parents. My sister cried all the way, because she didn’t want to leave my mother and we finished up in a place called Morden which is on the East Coast. When we got off it there was a teacher with the board with the names of the women who were going to take in these children, and we were placed with the chimney sweep. I remember those weeks that I was with him, he always let off newspaper because he was covered in soot, and we had a table cloth. I was returned as eating too much and he couldn’t afford to feed me, so we had 2 more placements, neither of which were satisfactory, my mother took me home, my father went into the army.
We continued with the bombs really coming down, getting very dangerous, because I lived in London, I’m a Londoner, and my father said that we had to go away, so we went down to a place called Oxtead in Surrey, and you’d think it was pretty rural then, it isn’t now. We lived with relatives who we called Uncle and Aunt, you would have thought it would be perfectly peaceful. The one thing was we lived next to Pickham Hill, for those people who don’t know what Biggan Hill was, it was the airfield where the Spitfires and the Hurricanes were, so we had dog fights instead. I remember walking to school and there were 2 British and German pilots fighting it out above my head with the machine guns going “pop, pop, pop, pop” and I was standing there thinking “I wonder where those bullets go to” so I hid under a bush, what good it would have done I don’t know. Another time we rushed to the shelter and a plane had gone out of control, and it took so long for it to come down with the screech I can still hear, with a big bang, and we all clapped, and a teacher said it could have been one of ours. We were quite terrified. Another time a German pilot landed on top of the roof a couple of doors away from us, and that caused quite a lot of interest in the neighbourhood.
While there I went properly to school, there had been a long gap since I had been to school, and I was coming up to the 11+ which I totally failed, I still remember, although I was supposed to pass I didn’t. At that school I remained, there was at one stage no more teachers, and they used me as a teacher, I was 13, and I had great time teaching these 5 year olds. By that time I was coming up a bit more, and the headmaster called my mother and said you’d better get this child out of the school, she’s got to leave now and go to a school and take proper exams. So my mother took me home, I was rather glad because my aunt’s house was freezing cold in the winter, its very cold down there, much colder than in London. She had 2 little coals, it was rationed, and I was covered in chilblains and I can still feel the itchiness of them in the hands and in the feet. I have to say I loved the countryside there, and I walked a great deal because my aunt had a small child, and she really couldn’t look after what I was up to. I discovered wild flowers, walking in the woods, I never worried, you couldn’t do that with a child today, it would be unsafe, but I was a great wanderer.
When I came back to London the bombs had not stopped, so we came back into a home which had had a bomb at both ends of the road and the house had shifted. This meant the doors didn’t properly close, nor did the toilet door, which meant if somebody came up stairs you sang loudly to warn them. We had windows out, ceilings partly down, and we had by that time had a steel table fitted which we would go under when it got dangerous. There was a railway behind us, directly and they used to run up and down the railway line, as I remember it, because up in the air you would have the balloons to prevent the planes from flying low. I just went school, as the schools were still running, I had to get my proper exams. They didn’t have a 6th form, it was a private school and they taught us to be housewives and to be at home. There was no question of a career, but as I was then 15 coming up and because war stopped and my father came home, and what I don’t think one realises, when the family joins together at the end of the war there are these years apart, and it was a very difficult time, and my father…
My mother was called up to do war work. It was the first time she had been allowed to work and loved it and was very good at it. As soon as my dad came home he forced her to give up the job. I found he treated me like a 10 year old because he had missed out on 5 years. So I left home at 17 and started on a nursing course.
I missed out the fact that when the big bombs stopped we had the doodlebugs. You could see them in the sky. They flew low and were black, snub nosed and great big red flames out the back. When they stopped you ran for it. You didn’t know where they would come down. I had an “aunt”, a good friend really, who lived around the corner and was a warden. She became the laughing stock of the neighbourhood really because when the chief warden came to see her she only had a nightgown and tin hat on. She had to be told that that wasn’t suitable clothing to wear. You have to remember though that most of these people were volunteers.
If you went out you had to use other people’s dug outs but you went on living. I can’t say I was unhappy, that is the strange part about it, we were all in it together. My mother sold my clothing coupons which I never forgave her for as I was a teenager. She needed the money, I hadn’t realised that. And the food was very difficult. My mother would say, as I looked at it and my nose turned up, “people have died to get you that food, eat it!” and I did.
But then came the worst I think and that was when the rockets came down and they were terrifying. You didn’t hear anything till afterwards, it was silent then a big bang of noise. It was terrifying. I was so thankful that our forces got to the area pretty early on from where they were being fired. They actually released that news and we knew then that we were winning the war.
I kept a diary of cut outs of materials about the war. You’ve still got that? By the time they got to Belsen I was absolutely horrified, I couldn’t believe that people could act like that. I’ve kept all the pictures of that time too.
So when the war was over I went up for the celebrations, but I didn’t enjoy it as a 15 year old, I was grabbed by everyman and kissed. I was 15 and didn’t like that so went home.
Can you talk about that day? It’s a very famous day?
We took the train to Buckingham Palace and went down the Mall. It was crowded, thousands of people. For me, strange men hugging and kissing, some dirty, I didn’t like that. Too many people to dance, they just moved.
What food did you have?
Very little meat, 1 egg in 6 weeks, bread and potatoes. Most people grew food in their gardens. Salad in the summer, carrots in winter. My mother use to make big eyes at the grocer and during someone’s birthday he would give us a tin of fruit. We had no bananas or oranges, we eat what was in season but I have to say we were healthy. Sugar was limited. I can’t remember about the milk. I think we had a 1/3 pint of milk. Every day on the radio they would give out a recipe. You could buy tripe which I thought was disgusting……eat when I was at school at the British Restaurant. The British Restaurant was a place where they cooked Pigeon, and I remember sitting opposite a man who sucked every single bone of that poor little pigeon having got the last little bit of meat off it, and that put me off pigeons. There was very little that you could get. There was a black market but we didn’t seem to be very successful at getting anything from it. During that part of the war when it was really, really bad, I won a food parcel from America and one of my mother friends came round, a couple, and there was a tin of ham, and this man knelt down in front of the tin of ham and said “Allah”. I didn’t open the tin I might say. The whole family sat round as we opened these wonderful foods, that had come safely through but that was about it there really was no let up about food and you had to be grateful for what you got. And this went on years because when I got married in 1952 there was a ceremony when his mother handed me his ration book. 1954 I think it finished, so we had had about 15 years of rationing we had, and after that we were rationed because we had no money
Did you talk to other children in school about what their parents were doing and what they were doing?
No, I don’t think so, I don’t remember that. There were no men around, because they had all been called up that could possibly stand on 2 feet and hold a gun.
As a child how did you cope with the fear?
I lived with my fear. I was the first under the table I have to say, I ran down the stairs, I didn’t even take it easy. I did think there was a good possibility I wouldn’t survive the war, other people didn’t and I could easily be one of them.
And was there much damage around where you lived?
Oh yes! You couldn’t always see it, if the house had been destroyed they’d had been destroyed. But a lot of the houses for instance the windows had come in, or the ceiling had come down, and you didn’t see that, but that was how our house was. It wasn’t long before you had the Irish labourers who came over from Ireland who would bring in a couple of pails of Stampa for the walls and they’d mend the ceilings and the glass would be put back , and they would come in with the incredible colours of the Stampa. They’d come in, these big burly men and say “Do you want green and pink? We’ll put green underneath and spray the pink over the top” and that’s what we lived with.
You said your father came home, did you lose any friends, or any other family?
No, we did in the first world war, but not the second. We didn’t have that many relatives because my mother had managed to get, and she wasn’t keen on them, she was one of 7 and she found it was all too much. It was very limited, she had her sister who she used to visit. He’d been terribly gassed in the first world war and she had to work to keep the home going, we didn’t actually lose anybody. We lost other relatives in the First World War Can you tell me a little bit about your time in nursing?
Well the nursing came afterwards. I trained at the Middlesex hospital, which has now been taken over or closed, as a 1000-bedded hospital. We did meet some of the people who had been on forced marches whose health had been ruined, but we didn’t see soldiers as such, as they’d gone into a military hospital. The hours were 52 hours a week when I joined and we did 10 nights straight off, 12 hours. We could go and eat a meal at midnight and that was it, we had an hour off. We worked incredibly hard, and we often had to do quite a bit of the cleaning as well! Its incredibly different today, I think they’ve got it much easier, well they do an 8 hour shift, we did 12 hours. My pay was £3 a month, £3 and something and that included, you see they took some off for my keep. We had our rations, and I still remember our butter ration was a little bit like that *gestures a small quantity* and we all had to put it in the same fridge and sometimes you didn’t find your butter. I accepted everything as it came. If you wanted to for instance, as a teenager and you wanted clothes, well as a nurse I didn’t have any because I couldn’t afford any I just had a skirt and jumper and that was it, and my father gave me an overcoat when I was 21 and a radio. I mean if you think a coat cost you £5, and you were earning £3 a week and you had to buy everything that you needed from that it wasn’t very much money. But then again everybody was in the same boat. We were given free theatre tickets, so if you had enough…. Night off you'd go down and I saw everything and in the best seats and that gave me a great love of the theatre.
And how did you find the entertainment was different after the war? The entertainment, what was it like during the war? What did you have to do as a child? As a teenager in London going through all of that? What was the light relief and the entertainment that you had?
I don't remember there was very much. We used to see your friends, you hung out but I mean I don't think I had money to go for coffee, in any case coffee shops weren't really open then. When I was nursing a great treat was to go to a Lyons' corner house. There the waitresses were dressed in black with little white aprons and you used to pay a certain amount of money and there was a long counter full of different foods and it took you some time before, and a plate of a certain size, that as you filled it up, you'd filled it up with the cheap stuff and the good stuff was at the very end but you'd already got your plate full up. But that was really a great treat, and of course I used to go round 'cause I was just off Oxford street so I would certainly go round the shops and look at it. But rather as my daughter said when she was a student “you go as if it's a museum” you know, um untouchable but still looking.
Can you tell me a little bit about you husbands experiences?
Well I met my husband when I was nursing, he was a patient, an impossible patient. He wrote to me when he left and invited me out and he then paid the cheapest price for the cinema and said when the lights went out “right we move back” and I thought how disgraceful. I'd been on my feet all day and this is how you treat me, and then he produced a great bag of cherries which we ate throughout the performance. We found we had a great time in London because of course 1950 if you remember was the time of the.. '51 was it (the festival of Britain) yes and London was sparkling and we spent many happy hours going to look at all the exhibitions, all the things that were going on, we had such fun. And I suppose you could say the romance went on from there. Kenwood where we went to the, no they didn't have concerts then later on we did that, but um we got married and before marriage he told me his background. He was a Jewish refugee, born in Vienna. His mother was Lutheran his father was Jewish but of course he would be counted as Jewish. He had an older brother and they had no idea just how close they were to disaster because of course the propaganda was such that it was kept from her. Then crystal night (kristallnacht) came and they caught him, and he was taken to the police station and he never told me what happened, but he only said that he was utterly terrified. He did get out and the parents immediately sent him to an arian uncle from his mother side, where he hid. Until the quakers with kinder trains, they got him out to England, and when he was there a job was found for him as a baker. So, and that was in Wigan so you can imagine, here was a school boy, he was in his last year getting ready to go to university and suddenly finding that his life had totally changed. His brother had managed to get out through Italy. He was five years older and already got a training as an engineer, and he went into the army. He volunteered to go in and he spent the whole war in the army, thought they didn't send him abroad because of his Jewish background, but he worked in England. From there he had to get up at five and he was totally uncared for and he got glandular fever and we think this had affected his heart because he developed heart problems in his 30's shortly after we were married, and one way or another he lived on until his 60's when he had a massive heart attack and died.
But he was interviewed when war started and they decided that he was an undesirable alien and he was put on the Dunera which was a ship, notorious ship. They'd no idea where they were going, there were two thousand of them, they were held in the bottom of the boat and it wasn't until they got to table mountain that they knew they were in the direction of Australia. They arrive in Melbourn where they were greeted with people who'd come out to see these people who they were told were very dangerous, and Paul was given a jumper which he'd never forgotten that kindness, 'cause he had nothing, and they were taken to Hay which is in the northern part of New South Wales, there he found that a lot of other older students who were already at university they set up classes and organised themselves in very interesting ways. It was the soldiers who found that they were not dangerous, they were just normal kids, some of them, some of them older and it wasn't long before the universities began to give them books and help them, and later on he was released. I don't know (How was he in the camp? Couple of years [daughter replies] till about 1943 I think then he went to Melbourne university) Yes he went to Melbourne university with their help and the Australians gave him citizenship because he had no citizenship and he was forever grateful to the Australians for their generosity. He became a chemical engineer, he had to come back because his parents were brought out by the brother to England on the last plane to leave Austria, and they spent the war in Minehead I think it was. (daughter – they went to the Isle of Man first) No the father did but he was got out because Pepe actually went into the army. That released his father. So the mother had been left alone to cope, can you imagine? She was nearly sixty, having left her home and all, she was the sweetest woman and all she used to say to me, Eileen she said nothing mattered, my sons were safe, and she said the rest of it doesn’t matter at all. And what else can I tell you? That he had to come back because his father got cancer after the war. He didn’t intend to come home at all he'd settled in Australia. And he went to get a job at imperial college where he was a reader um, and he travelled a great deal and he, we went years to Australia while he set up new courses there and he was frequently back in Australia at Sidney university and he got a DSE which was a great delight to us all and I have to say his brother opened a factory after the war and employed quite a lot of people. So I felt both of them had made a contribution.
Do you often think back to wartime?
I suppose its brought it back a lot with the war in Syria. Because we really had news every of how many ships were sunk. The news was dreadful and I used to get incredibly upset with the news as I heard it, how many men had been killed, how many sailors had been lost. And I knew it so when I hear from Syria and from other countries I know what’s happening. Its all happening again and that brings it back and I hate it. (daughter – and you became a quaker) ah yes I did, after the war I had been church of England but I didn’t feel like the church of England was expressing what I was feeling, and the quakers were because they have always tried to work for peace. I think their work which they did during the second world war its well documented um and of course they have been refusing to hold a gun for a long time. Um they’re still working they worked very hard in Northern Ireland so that’s where I am today. I’ve been a quaker for well over fifty years.
Is there anything else you want to talk about that we haven’t already covered?
Um.. (daughter – you love Churchill) Oh Churchill I loved. Do you know he, while he was in charge I felt safe. It sounds a funny thing to say but he could look Hitler in the eye for all his evilness. He could understand and look at him. I couldn’t, I was terrified of Hitler and what he could do. I have a lovely story that sums up a refugee. A woman was standing at a bus stop and another man came along and he said “how long have you been here?” not knowing her at all and she said “oh I think I've been here for twenty years” he said “no that’s not what I mean, how long have you been at the bus stop.
I think we had been together. Yes but I mean it has affected the children because they’ve had a foot in both camps. When I first knew Paul and I used to go and see some of the other people who gathered together, because the refugees did used to gather together as groups and they set up, as you know, Belsize Park, and it became a very, very favourite place, rents were very cheap, you couldn’t afford to live there now but they set up their cake shops, and there was a Yalzee in the afternoon, and when the kids were small my mother-in-law used to go to Yalzee. There she put on her best suit that she’d had made and her jewellery. I might say that when she escaped with her husband on that last plane all they were allowed was a very small suitcase between them. They did not know that she had sewn her jewellery inside her corsets because that couldn’t be picked up. We have some of the mementos today in the family.
You mentioned Hitler earlier, as a teenager being quite frightened, was there constant fear of invasion?
It came and it went if you were occupied you didn’t think. Other times when things happened you didn’t know. It never occurred toe that the Germans could invade. I don’t think I ever thought of them as being on the soil of English, but their presence was very much felt by the bombing and by reading and knowing what was going on. As I said it was very strange to think you were evacuated to keep you safe, and what was going on in the air. My uncle worked at Bingham Hill, he was an electrician and he was allowed petrol to go to work but he never ever took us out anywhere. We walked everywhere. My school was 2 miles away and I would sometimes walk to 2 miles to school, 2 miles back for lunch, 2 miles back to school and 2 miles home again. Can you imagine kids these days doing an 8 mile walk to go to school? But you did it! You’re very confined. When I think today how people get in their cars and drive here, there, and everywhere, in those days you travelled nowhere because a) you didn’t have any money and the busses were very infrequent so I only knew just where I lived when I was evacuated.
Did you see the build-up of vehicles before D-Day?
Yes. Where we lived the build-up came. I used to cycle to school and tank after tank after tank passed me on the cycle, and they came so close to me and they roared with laughter and I just looked ahead and thought if I’m under the wheels of one of these tanks they seemed to be able to shoot along. We knew what was happening, and the Germans must have known, because you can’t move that amount of people and vehicles and tanks without it being spotted. Mind you they didn’t have the means of going round photographing as they do today. Churchill was our MP and he came at the end of the war and toured the streets and I was on the curb and he passed me from that way to that way and in his hand was the cigar, and I thought should I snatch it, it was very easy, then I thought “don’t be rude” so I didn’t. And then I’m not sure what I would have done, but there he was, cigar and all, and I really feel so much for him today.
What about the royal family? Were you aware of them?
Well they did their Queenly and Kingly thing and they visited the ruins afterwards but they were safe enough. They were shipped out I think to Windsor Castle, and I know that Buckingham palace got a hit but I never thought of them, they didn’t come into my range of feeling, except the day, when V day because of course we went down and they wandered around and waved.
I don’t know anything else I can say. I can only say that it affected my husband throughout life. He couldn’t cope with police. What happened on that night when they got him at the police station he never talked about, except to say that he was so terrified. And I think the reason why he was found to be undesirable, and alien, was because he was probably cheeky to the colonel who interviewed him but I don’t know, I only know he was taken off. He was what,18 then by then. You can’t go through those experiences without them affecting you throughout your life.
He was thrown out of school. But the interesting thing was on the 50th anniversary, the boys at his school built a wall and every brick has got the name of the person who had to leave because he were Jewish, so there is a commemoration wall there and we did go back, and we walked round Vienna, we spent 3 weeks there but it wasn’t a terribly happy experience. We just went round where he learned to dance, where they used to eat in the summer months, but it was all gone. But it meant there was always, as far as I know with Paul, if ever he was turned down for something or didn’t get something he required, he would always say he was never sure whether it was because he was a Jewish refugee, or whether it was genuine. I don’t think that experience in the end, it made me very independent. I think when my father came home and we were settling, I didn’t realise how independent I’d become. I could stand on my own two feet, I had to sort myself out and get on with life. And he saw me, and that meant our relationship never developed, I’m sorry to say that, I was very fond of him, but we had no relationship because we missed out on those. I don’t know what happened to my sister, she had a breakdown when she was 17 because of the life, but she didn’t cope. When I say she had the breakdown it was because she had come back, and she missed Oxted and the countryside, and coming back into London, and that this was going to be her home. She suffered a lot more than I did, I was more confident.
Do you think the war made you grow up quicker?
I was very grown up I suppose. By the age of 13 I had discovered the hospital I wanted to train at, I had discovered what they required, I had got the required standard. I found out about it and I had never asked anybody for career advice, I didn’t do anything I found out all that, so that at the age of 17 I went on a pre-nursing course and left home, and at 18 went to the main hospital for 4 years.
I remember when you wanted clothes, you didn’t have any clothes, so you had to change by swapping clothes with your friends. That worked! You looked quite different in somebody elses clothes, and they wore your clothes! Somehow or other you did manage. I used to bring lots of friends home, my mother seemed to always able to feed them. Of course you only got a little bit of cheese, but I don’t know how she did it! I remember her cooking tripe and that has remained with me.
My mother in law cooked Austrian recipes and there came a moment when he decided to invite me home, and I hadn’t realised what an interest it was to his mother that she should meet me, and I went there and she had cooked very specially and on the table came this grey mixture, she put it on my plate and I said “what is this?” and she said “it is lung”, and I said “I’m sorry I can’t eat this because we give lung to the cat.” I thought that’s it, that’s the end of the relationship, and then she said because she was a very wise women, “well what would you eat?” so I finished up with her egg. I realised afterwards that this was a moment, but she had introduced me to Yaszee and the Viennese cakes which we loved.
She said during the war she ate extremely well, because she cooked brain, sweet breads, liver, which was very cheap then because we didn’t very much eat liver and other offal, and she lived on those. She had one little room which was heated with a little oil stove, on which she had one pot, and she cooked the meals and they survived very well, until Pepe with his factory set up was able to get her into a little flat, furnish it and look after his mum. They all survived the war and all had stories to tell of what happened to them. When I first went with Paul everyone spoke German, but after a few years they all spoke English. And their children well, Janet, Vivian and the rest and I have to say that Margaret of course knows this story, knew father but the grandchildren of which I have got 5 have no conception. None at all in fact I told one of them the story, they said 'Oh yes'. This happened so...yes they couldn't relate to it that was it. Just could not relate to the fact that if they had to... you hear the stories from people in Syria, now, they just managed to survive that is all, when you see them walking, coming over from that trip across the Mediterranean and then walking with nothing but the child strapped to their back. Well its the story all over again but the... numbers that were walking.
Did it make you fearful for what might happen, knowing how it happened before?
Im just sorry we are not born with remembrance, that is the trouble. They have to learn it and they don't necessarily understand until they are in the thick of it because if you think of how many men come back from war with the stress levels, appalling state, terrible dreams where they suddenly realise what can happen. I think it will just go on like this. I can't see a way of being able to stop it because I think that war is exciting, it changes what you're doing, a 9-5 job you're doing something very different and you are travelling around, its exciting, you never know until you are in the midst of it - you just have to go round the back of yours dont you. At the end of this month I am getting my niece over from Australia as well as my daughter but my daughter was here anyway and she says she will come here for a couple of days because her husband is going over to the battlefields, to the areas, First World War he is visiting yes because he wants to go there to see the graves. I think the saddest place I've been when its come to.. I went to Gallipoli and I had the experience of tears running down my face because of the atmosphere there.. there is such an atmosphere at Gallipoli and I don't cry easily and I couldnt stop it the whole time I was there, the tears just ran down and you've got them being buried all over the place. 24 and 23 and when you realised the stupidity of that landing because on the heights were the Turks and on the ground were the British soldiers getting off, the Australian ones and they were just mown down as they came ashore and you just have to walk there and you just get the whole thing. Another place with incredible atmosphere, Coventry. Have you been there?
Well if you go to visit Coventry, go to the Cathedral, the new Cathedral is linked to the old one that was bombed to bits and the cross they made with old wood was put where the altar had been and when you go there, I was told it was haunted and it is haunted because as I stood there I had taken, I was doing a course and I had some Indian people that had driven down with me and when I turned round he was crying and he was Indian. He said 'Terrible place', so there are areas that are still haunted and that night must have been dreadful because I could hear the voices of people calling. Not in the cathedral, not in the new part... but I mean the Indian chap was weeping too, you know the tears were coming down so there are areas still which carry the depths of distress, pain and anger I would say. I mean I was brought up during the war 'The only good German is a dead one', that was what everybody said and how stupid it was. I mean they were caught up but they were just caught up in a war they were... propaganda. It worked for the Germans and I always remember there was a wonderful story pf a German who was outside Stalingrad in a dug out in the freezing cold and it was Christmas and it suddenly occurred to him what am I doing in this foreign country shooting at people I dont know, Im down this hole why arent I home with the family and the children?... and suddenly the whole of the propaganda fell of him. Anyway I hope something might come out of it that might be of interest. As I say the (?) he was scarred by his experience... to young... but he survived and he made up for it... he said afterwards 'If I had remained in Austria I would never have done as much as I have done in England, England gave me such opportunities and I think a lot of people could say that about this country its given many many people who come here as refugees opportunities. I had one yesterday, came from Kenya as a refugee and her father started a factory after he came out and they built up a tremendous factory, last I heard it employed over 70 people. And she now owns it and runs it and probably now is the only industrial chemist in the country that runs her own factory, so you never know. And they are making this country, contributing, put it that way. They don’t come and sit just for all the benefits.”
End of interview.