THE STORY OF THE SQUARE
Quilt 1, Square 10
Artist: Vera Kittel
My name is Vera (Posener) Kittel. I was born on April 4, 1924, in Breslau, Germany, which was the capitol of Silesia. My parents were Albert and Margarete Posener. I had one sister, Steffi, who was three and one-half years older than I was. We were a middle-class family. My father was a manufacturer of men’s clothing and, as my mother helped to take care of the bookkeeping, we had a maid to look after the household. So we lived a very comfortable life.
In 1933, when Hitler came to power, we became more and more restricted as Jews. I could only attend a Jewish school. There were signs outside restaurants that Jews were not welcome. But my parents were always hoping this would end one day — so they decided to remain in Germany and not give up all they had accomplished, even though it was still easier to emigrate at that time. In October 1938, my sister, who had just turned 18, left for England on a domestic permit. By that time, my father’s business was already very limited. Then came Kristallnacht. Synagogues were burned, Jewish men were arrested, businesses were smashed, schools closed — and everyone knew they had to go. But, by this time, there was hardly anywhere to go.
The people where my sister worked sponsored me; and their relatives applied for a permit for my parents to come to England as a domestic couple. My permit arrived in July 1939, and my parents were advised by the Jewish Community to send me to England on the next Kindertransport. I was 15. At the time, I didn't mind leaving my parents too much because I was looking forward to being reunited with my sister — and I expected my parents to follow.
When we arrived in England, we were free from being “the Jews” in Nazi Germany; but now we were the “refugees.” I was staying at a girls’ hostel in Bournemouth. I had been away from home before — but this was different. I was homesick. The next big blow for us was the outbreak of the war — which meant that we would not be reunited with our parents for an indefinite period of time.
For a few months, I was sent to a boarding school where I had to help with some of the work in order to earn my keep. In the spring of 1940, we had to leave the coast because we were considered “enemy aliens.” We were sent to Cambridge where we did fruit picking. I then worked as a domestic for one year; I worked from morning till night, with one-half day off a week. In 1942 I joined my sister in London, after she returned from one-and-one-half years in an internment camp on the Isle of Man. By this time I had turned 18 and had to choose between working in the Armed Forces or the War Factory. I chose the latter and worked there until the end of the war. In the meantime, I had met my future husband, Fred, who was in the Czech Army. We were married just before the end of the war.
After the war, Steffi and I started searching for our mother and father and for other relatives — only to find out they did not survive.
In 1950, Fred and I came to Canada with our little daughter and, through a lot of hard work and with the little education we had, we built a new and better life for ourselves.