Ursula Feist (née Erber) was born on June 2, 1921 in Berlin, Germany. Before Hitler, Ursula, her parents and sister, Brigitta, lived in a comfortable economic status. Ursula had a good educational background. Her father was very observant and Ursula discusses how she might have turned out more observant in her life today, had she not been forced by her father to go to synagogue. With the rise of Nazism, Ursula describes living in perpetual fear from 1933 until 1939. Beginning in 1934, the family experienced financial hardship and Ursula went to a commercial college to learn how to type and take short hand. She found employment at an Italian agency from March until November 1938 -- Kristallnacht. Ursula describes Kristallnacht as the most horrible thing: she remembers coming down in the morning and seeing windows smashed and synagogues burning.
By the beginning of 1939, many Jews were leaving Germany. Ursula obtained tickets to Shanghai from the Italian agency for her parents and sister. For herself, she made arrangements to go to England to stay with a longtime pen pal. On May 19, 1939, two weeks before her eighteenth birthday she got onto a children's transport to England. Her parents left for Shanghai in June 1939. She remembers the SS coming on the train and emptying out suitcases to find anything of value. In England, Ursula stayed with the Wicker family near Chester in North England. The family treated Ursula like one of their own. She had to adjust to a life where she did not have to worry.
Ursula went to Birmingham and trained as a nurse. In May 1940, she was interned at a woman’s camp on the Isle of Man for one year. The British government had no way of knowing who was a Nazi sympathizer so they interned everybody. While in the camp, she met a woman from Munich who was the aunt of her future husband, David. Ursula worked as a waitress in the Cumberland Hotel and David came and asked her if he could take her to the theatre. Later she got a monitoring service job at the BBC. She listened to Hitler's speeches and had to translate and transcribe them. She and David married in 1943. David wanted to join the Commandos when he learnt that his mother was killed but instead he got into the intelligence corps and then the pioneer corps. Their first son, Anthony, was born in London in 1948.
By this time, communication with Ursula’s parents had stopped. They had been living under Japanese control in Shanghai and under terrible circumstances. After the war they immigrated to Minneapolis, United States. Her father had angina and died. Later, her mother and sister moved to New York. Life in post-war England was difficult due to very high taxes. In 1951, Ursula and David came to Canada in search of employment. They did not go to the United States because they were afraid that their son would be drafted. Their second son, Daniel was born in Montreal in 1954. Ursula worked in the Neurological Hospital and then the Royal Victoria Hospital as an administrative assistant to the chief of surgery. Her children are both married and she has two grandchildren from each son. Ursula talks about the fact that she is still homesick for London; they visit very often and have very close friends there. She has also been back to Berlin several times.
Leo Klag was born on August 16, 1920 in Berlin, Germany. He grew up in an assimilated family. As a teenager in Berlin, he witnessed the rise of antisemitism in Germany since 1933. He saw the boycott of Jewish stores on April 1, 1933, book burnings and demonstrations on the streets of Berlin. He attended the Olympic Games in 1936. During Kristallnacht, his father and brother were taken away and disappeared forever. Leo fled to Hamburg believing the situation was better there. As it was not the case, he went back to Berlin and hid in a Jewish sports complex until February 1939. At this point, he was so sick that he went to hospital where he met a man who helped him organize his immigration to England. Upon his arrival in England, he was interned in the Kitchener camp where he worked for the War Office in a wireless station, listening to communications between German submarines and their bases. After the capitulation of France, Leo was sent to the Isle of Man with other German refugees. He was then shipped to Canada in July 1940. He was interned in Fort Lennox, on the Ile-aux-Noix. After two years he was free to move to Montreal where he worked in the press business. After the war he moved to the USA for two years then went to Israel for one year. He has been back to Germany several times since the end of the war.
Lea Penney (née Prilutzky) was born on February 17, 1922 in Berlin, Germany. Her parents were of Ukrainian origin and had immigrated to Germany during the pogroms in Russia. Her father worked for a large insurance company. Lea describes her father as "ultra-orthodox," and accordingly family life was very observant. They did not live in a particularly Jewish part of Berlin and Lea began by going to a German public school. It was only later that she joined a Jewish school. The day Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor, Lea remembers the tremendous fear and excitement that entered into the lives of her family and the Jewish community. In her own family, the situation was never discussed because her father wanted to shelter his children as much as possible. About every six months, new antisemitic restrictions were enforced. Because of these laws, her father eventually lost his job as an insurance salesman laws and began to deliver coal instead. The family had to move to a smaller and cheaper apartment. It was then that Lea felt the poverty and hunger which began to dominate family life. Rumours about concentration camps began to circulate within the community. Lea was part of a Jewish group that was training youths to go to Palestine and work on a Kibbutz. On November 9, 1938, the day of Kristallnacht, she was taking part in a preparatory camp near Hamburg, when everyone was told by the monitors to be quiet and turn off the lights. The next day the youths found out what had happened in the rest of Germany. As she discovered later, the Jewish Association had paid the Nazis to protect the children. In February 1939, at 17 years old, Lea was brought to Palestine by the organization. There she lived on Kibbutz for two years until 1941. Even though work was very hard, she felt a great sense of relief at the freedom she had there. In the beginning, she was still able to write and receive letters to her family in Germany. Later on all communication ceased. She describes that there was a great amount of pressure for young people in Palestine to join the British army. After having worked cleaning and ironing for some time, she decided to do so, and eventually became an English, German, and typing teacher in the army. She was stationed in Egypt and during the last years of the war was contacted by the Red Cross to send financial assistance to her mother, who had been found in Paris. As she later found out, her father had made it to Paris too, after hiding for some time in Germany. From a Paris labour camp, however, he was eventually deported to Auschwitz, where he perished. All her siblings had been able to leave Germany, some to England, others to Palestine. Lea met her husband in the army and they married in Cairo in 1946. The couple moved to England where they stayed until 1953. Her husband was a civil servant, and received a job offer in Geneva, where they lived from 1953 to 1965. After staying a year in Germany, they eventually moved to Montreal in 1969, where they have lived ever since. Lea and her husband have two sons and one daughter.