Sonja tells the interviewer why she ended up in Scotland and about her life here.
INT: And…So what, after all these apprenticeships, what job did you end up doing?
SH: I became a milliner.
SH: Because that was part of my mother’s – what she did in the shops.
INT: Right, and yet you ended up here in Scotland. How was that? Because you were down in the south of England?
SH: I don’t know.
M: You do. You met dad.
SH: Oh yes, I met my husband in Birmingham
SH: And though I didn’t want to get married, I did. Yes he was, he was a civil servant. [Sonja’s husband, Hank, was head of the Ministry of Fuel and Power in Scotland].
M: An engineer.
SH: Engineer, and he was moved up to Scotland and so I came along. They wanted a married couple.
INT: I see, and what was your first impression of Scotland and the people?
SH: I had been to Scotland before. I had come up for the Edinburgh Festival and enjoyed it thoroughly and I thought it would all be like the Edinburgh Festival, and it wasn’t.
INT: Ah so you were disappointed then?
SH: Yes, yes,
INT: OK, so tell me more about Scotland. When you came here did you meet or mix with any of the, the other refugees or Jewish community?
SH: Oh immediately. .
INT: How did you do that?
SH: In Birmingham before we came up we met a journalist and he was coming back the next day so he arranged to meet my husband and he arranged to…Did you know Isi Metzstein?
INT: Oh yes.
SH: He brought him along.
INT: I see.
SH: And he had two brothers and two sisters and we, we knew half of Glasgow by that time, you know. And he brought other people. So we knew a lot of people.
INT: Did you tend to mix with other people who had come escaping Nazi Germany or local people?
SH: Both. Both because some of the German people went to school with others whom they brought.No, I mixed with a mixture.
INT: A mixture of people. And did you find Scotland a welcoming place?
SH: Oh definitely because we’d already got so many friends.
INT: Well that’s very nice. Were you involved in any sort of voluntary work here or were you working always as a milliner when you were here?
SH: Ah I did miserable Oxfam work and…
M: No, no that was latterly, when you first, when you first arrived you didn’t work.
SH: No, no not when I first arrived.
INT: You had a family?
SH: Oh yes, oh yes.
INT: How many children did you have?
SH: Well, by the time we came to Scotland I had three children and two step- daughters.
INT: That’s a significant number.
M: Eventually you had three children.
SH: When we came to Scotland.
M: No, I was born in Scotland. Andy was born in Scotland. When you arrived in Scotland you had no children apart from two step-daughters, just, it doesn’t matter, but I mean just for….
SH: Ok I was…
INT: Then you took, then you…They’ve probably been in your mind the whole time.
M: Weighing heavily.
INT: I’m sure that’s the case. Is your Judaism significant in your life? The fact you came from a Jewish background?
SH: Yes and no. Yes because whatever we argued about it was nothing you could ever forget or put aside. But religious I’ve never been. Is that right?
M: I’m not quite sure what you’re saying actually.
INT: You mean whatever you argued about back in Germany…?
M: And who are you talking about arguing with? Are you talking about…?
SH: With anybody.
M: No, but you didn’t …Religion never played a part. I mean I’ve never been to a synagogue with you.
INT: But I suppose the reason you had to leave was because of religion.
M: Well exactly, well exactly. And so I’ve never, you know, and that is quite a sort of good reason for not getting involved in religion when this is what, you know. But…
M: You’ve never been religious.
SH: No I’ve never been religious but on the other hand I would never have…
INT: Denied that you have…
SH: No, no never. No it’s a difference of approach.
SH: But I don’t know how you feel, do you feel very religious?
INT: No, not really.