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Study and Theory/

Gertie A.

With speed / Austria

Lavie, 1994

Seder nights, in those good days in Vienna, were not something special, because all our big family was always together, every Friday night we were also together at my grandfather’s and grandmother’s home. On Seder nights grandma always laid one or two places extra, because every single year my grandfather brought home from the synagogue someone who was not having a Seder – and the children learnt to treat him with respect and always serve him first because he was an honoured guest.

We all as a family sang well, with different voices, and to sing together with everyone was a genuine pleasure. Uncle Yuji (Yosef), the oldest brother, was the entertainer. We always held our breath when we reached the word “with speed” because Uncle Yuji would wink at us, the children, and sing in a loud voice “with speed”!. Every year the same and we never got tired of it.

The last Seder was something completely different. It was the time of Hitler, and the Nazis had already taken control of Vienna. There was no joy, no laughter, just worry, worry about what would be with all of us and in particular what would be with the children. My grandmother had already passed away, and the uncles and aunts said that it was better that way. It was better that she couldn’t see my grandfather thrown into the street and having to clean the pavement on his hands and knees. My grandfather was already not the grandfather who I knew, who would put me on his lap and call me his “cheeky one” (I always thought that it was his nickname for me!). There were no longer lace curtains in the windows, but rather thick green boards so heaven forbid no-one should see and hear us from outside. My grandfather did not bring home just one person, but rather many people who had lost their family and home. My three adult cousins were already in England. Two of them were in Holland, And I was just about to travel to England alone, on the Kindertransport. We tried to do everything we were supposed to do on Seder Night however quietly and with melancholy, and my mother cried.

Apart from my mother, all those mentioned above were lost in the Holocaust.

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