I was born in 1938 in Stuttgart, the first child of my parents. My mother, Maria, came from Kolomyja, Austria-Hungary (today Ukraine). My father came from Vijnita in Rumania (today Ukraine). My parents got married in Switzerland in 1933, as there were already problems with discrimination of Jews in Germany in this regard. My parents wanted to leave Germany as soon as possible. Even though both had siblings in the U.S., they did not obtain an entry visa. Additionally, the German authorities did not want to grant them an exit visa for a long time, as my father was not a German citizen. Eventually, they were granted exit visas, dated 27 August 1939, just a few days before the outbreak of war. I was just over 13 months, and we took the train to England.

My parents told me that the border officials searched the train and took all the Jewish men off it. As the train started to move again, my father managed to get away from the group of Jewish men and got back on the train. 

Three of my mother’s brothers and two sisters, together with their mother, had left for Israel in 1936. One of the brothers made the dangerous journey back to Germany to try to persuade his two sisters, Adele, and her husband and son, and Feige and her husband to leave Germany and come to Israel, but they were too frightened, and he had to return without them. After the war, they could not be found.

Barrage balloons against the German air raids were anchored across from our house. We had a couple of bombs drop about half a mile from our home but no worse. My parents started a business of making and selling blouses and jabots. My mother was the designer and cutter and my father the director and salesman, and they were quite successful. 

At the end of the war, they talked about going to America, but my sister and I would get so upset that they decided to stay in England. My mother visited her sister in New York and mother and three siblings in Israel over a period of time. In the early 1950s, my father was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinsons. He was only 40 years old, and this progressed fairly fast, making life very difficult for both him and my mother.

After attending Hendon Technical College, I worked for 30 years and, after retiring, volunteered for 15 years at a Hospice Charity Shop and still serve on a Housing Association Committee. In 1958, I married my husband, Stuart, had my two sons, Alan (1960) and David (1963) and had 43 good years until Stuart decided that he wanted to end the marriage in 2001. Nevertheless, I have much to be thankful for: wonderful sons, lovely grandchildren, one of whom, Frank, accompanied me to Berlin for the WE! ARE! HERE! project, family and friends.

The Wannsee Conference, held in such a lovely villa next to the lake, had such a sinister motivation: the final solution of the Jews. The very words send shivers through the body. I will never understand how 15 men could sit down together and agree to implement such an evil plan. This is why I believe so strongly that the Wannsee Conference should not be forgotten and why it is important for me to proclaim WE! ARE! HERE!

Hedy Gavurin (born Buller)

Born in 1938 in Stuttgart, German Reich