THE STORY OF THE SQUARE
Quilt 2, Square 11
Artist: Betty Wolkenfeld Hauser
My square of the memory quilt represents some of my most intense memories of the Hostel and life in England. This was a weeding out of a lot of memories — these just had to be included. They represent my Identity Card, the house we lived in, the names of the matrons who cared for us. I added the garden and the washing drying on the line. This is one memory that every single person who was in the Hostel remembered distinctly.
All the girls, from age 6 up, did their own laundry on Sunday mornings. The movies and the ballet and concerts we went to are represented by the blue ticket to one of the last Halle concerts I attended. I would have liked to include a picture of the gas mask that we had to carry all the time, as well as some of the report cards from school, but there just wasn’t enough room. We had a strong intellectual milieu, with language lessons, musical evenings, and discussions. At least, that is what I remember of my life in the Hostel at 42 Heaton Road, in Manchester, England.
A short personal history of Betty Wolkenfeld Hauser
I came to England on the last boat to leave Holland on May 10, 1940. We had arrived in Liverpool after five days on a cattle boat, not knowing whether England would permit us to land. The early days of our stay have become hazy, but I do know that the Jewish Committee of Manchester took responsibility for me, and placed me in the Girls Hostel at 42 Heaton Road in Withington, Manchester. I was 11 years old. I attended the Old Moat School, and upon graduating at 14, and trying my hand at a “job,” I took the entrance exam for the Junior Commercial School and was accepted for the summer term. The care of the women at the Hostel, Mrs. Ilse Sawitz, Mrs. Meta Brinkmann, and Miss Elja Baruch, together with the schooling I received, and the friendships that I formed, left me with very good memories.
I was born in Berlin, Germany on December 29, 1927. My father was a furrier, and we (mother, father, brother, sister and I) lived a happy life, though already at a young age, I was aware of Hitler’s attitude and designs on the Jews. I’m not sure why we didn’t leave for America earlier, but we almost didn’t make it out in time. My father was sent to Zbonczyn, on the Polish border, in October 1938, and we lived through Krisallnacht on November 9–10, 1938. In December, my mother took us (my brother, several cousins and other children) to the Dutch border. There she left us, but some women were waiting for us at the station, and we ended up in a Jewish Children’s Home in Driebergen. I was sent to Amsterdam after a year, and became part of the group that got on the boat to England that last day before Holland’s capitulation to the Nazis.
In the meantime, my parents went to Belgium, and at the outbreak of the war, went to the south of France. There they waited for their affidavits for America, which were sent to them by close family members. It wasn’t easy to get on a boat, and they finally arrived in New York via Casablanca and Marseille in the summer of 1941. After that they worked at getting an affidavit for me, but it was not until November 19, 1943, that I was able to leave England on a returning troopship, again, via Liverpool, arriving in Boston on November 29, 1943.
Adjustment to life in Brooklyn, New York, was quite difficult for me. It was so different being part of a family, struggling to make a living. One would think that life in England would have been more daunting, but somehow I coped with the problems there, the bombing, the rationing, the rainy weather, and the lack of family. However, very soon I attended Thomas Jefferson High School, did well — even became an Arista member. I went on to Brooklyn College, got a job at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and had a busy social life. I married a wonderful man in 1949, and moved to Boston to wait till he finished graduate school. After that, his jobs and our friends kept us in the Boston area. We were part of the Young Israel family, which has grown to be the largest Orthodox congregation in the New England area. We have four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Two of our sons live in Israel with their families. We visit frequently.
Betty Hauser (nee Betti Wolkenfeld), May 1996