Frank Land: having religion knocked out of you

Frank Land recalls religion in Germany and England during his childhood in the 1930s and 1940s.

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I was wondering, what did you do for fun as a child?

We played a lot in that garden, I know that. And we enjoyed playing football and so on. I can’t remember very much else. That garden’s very vivid and probably dominated, when we weren’t at school we tended to play there and we tended to… no, we had other friends there and it was a good playground. Other memories are certainly going to - we were close to a public garden, the Potsdamer Platz, and suddenly we found that the seats were labelled ‘Jews Only’, just one or two seats for Jews only, the rest were for everybody else. Suddenly you had the segregation. Again, another stupid little thing is every Jew had to have our Jewish names added to our other names.

Did religion play a big part in your childhood?

No, no. My family were not a religious family at all. I think agnostic would be best to describe them rather than atheist, but a Jewish consciousness. Although in earlier years we had become, the family had become more assimilated, the rise of Hitler made us much more, made the family much more conscious of being Jewish. We attended synagogue occasionally, but very rarely.  My parents really didn’t believe in… have any… believe in any religion and we rather had it knocked – for some people religion comes in their youth, they suddenly take to it – in our case I think it was knocked out during our evacuation. We… the school had attached to, coming occasionally, a rabbi for the Jewish children in the school and he insisted more or less that we go to, every Saturday, to take Jewish lessons, to go to shul. At the same time the family we lived with had a somewhat Christian view of things; they wanted us to go to Sunday school. So we had our weekends spoilt, both Saturday and Sundays. It didn’t last long. Enough to knock religion on the head.

  • Interviewee Frank Land
  • Duration 00:02:44
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Thomas Lean
  • Date of interview 5/13/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/17

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