I have used a throwaway as I've posted personal things on my own account, so people won't be able to find me. I am this woman's grandchild and am typing for her. Today I was chatting about stuff and she reminded me how we once did a 'question thing on the Internet' and wanted to do it again.

My Proof: [http://imgur.com/qWrZ1OV] - photo of me now [http://imgur.com/bWN74xt] - my passport photo (from years ago). Hopefully you can see the resemblance!

'I was born in 1929, in London. I was evacuated in 1940 to near the Welsh border. I became a nurse and saw the beginning of the NHS. I was a committed Communist and knew several very significant members, with my family through marriage also holding important places within the Communist party in the UK and China.'

Edit: we are going to bed. It'd almost midnight now! Will answer questions tomorrow.

Comments: 173 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

FireLiesWithin40 karma

Given all you've seen & experienced, what would you say is the most important lesson you've learned in life? Any advise you'd like to offer?

IAmAnEvacuee103 karma

There is not one lesson for every person. I think the most important is to always think why people do what they do, and judge people by what they are trying to do than what they are doing, or maybe understand what they are trying to do, but that doesn't mean excusing their actions.

Acknowledging when you're wrong is important too, it means it's so much easier to learn and stop worrying, but it's also very difficult, the easiest way is to start small, so when you make a very small inconsequential mistake, for example, making the tea badly or telling them slightly wrong information, apologise. It becomes much easier to eventually be responsible for and apologise for the really important things. People always change, I have changed a lot, but the only way we can make sure other people know we have changed is through telling them and showing them, and apologising and being honest is a part of that.

Scalby33 karma

Wow. What was the medical profession like before the NHS?

IAmAnEvacuee60 karma

It was not Victorian, like how some people think, but there were very big problems. For example, some people did not have to pay, such as the very elderly, and they would line up separately to the paying patients. The paying patients got better care. An almoner would visit the patients to ensure they paid. It was more stressful and unfair for the patients. For the staff, life before the NHS was okay, wards were busier and I think that the NHS allowed and encouraged medical developments, without it, I believe even paying patients missed out on the best treatments. The NHS saw much more monitoring than before as well which meant fairer treatment for everyone, but there were some situations where regulations didn't fit the context or realities.

To be a nurse before the NHS was actually very interesting! Not as good as a doctor, of course, but it was a good job, especially for people like me who could not afford other skilled training, such as teaching, which was what I wanted to do. However the hierarchy was very strict, and I feel standards for basic day care were higher than today. When I was last in hospital, the wards were definitely less neat, but the nurses were more overworked. Nursing wasn't respected as much by doctors either. The ideal for a nurse was to marry a rich doctor and retire. Nowadays, I imagine a nurse's dream would be much more than simply becoming a matron and marriage, but perhaps specialising in mental health and achieving a very high level and pay for yourself.

canadian_625 karma

where did you go when evacuated? did you like the people who looked after you while you were a refugee? what were the best and worst moments of being a refugee? thanks and it is cool your doing this

IAmAnEvacuee59 karma

I was sent to the Forest of Dean by train. I do not think of myself as a refugee though! For the first week I was in a miner's house. I hated it. I was picked out as one of the last because I couldn't stop crying. It was off the road and a very small house. We shared a bed, my sister, the man, the wife and me, and the man came home from the pit black from coal, which terrified me. I hated it so much. After a week they moved me to a bigger middle class family close by. They had a big garden and were older, but had no children. There were two other evacuees from Essex, where I'm from, as well, who were much younger. They actually wanted to adopt me after the war, but I decided not to, and they eventually adopted two toddlers who were very sweet. It was a wonderful childhood with them.

The best? Well, it was lovely being outside. As horrible as it sounds, the war was absolutely the best part of my childhood. I was a Guide and we went camping all over the forest, which I loved. But the best parts were probably attending an excellent grammar school and living in an educated and close family. We had two dogs, one died during my stay, the first was called Peter, and the second was named Peter 2! Both were so well trained and lovely. I will always remember those dogs. Another great part of being an evacuee was when a bomb was dropped nearby. I don't know how or why as we were not near a bombing place, but probably a plane unloading it's bomb after flying back from bombing Cardiff or maybe even Bristol. It was very exciting and also harmless.

The worst was being away from my family. I cried a lot at first and missed my sisters and my brothers a lot. I was one of the youngest, but my half sister stayed with my mother and my closest sister was in the same village but was older and later left to Cheltenham as a cook. Actually one of the worst things was the privy midden! Even though the family I lived with were middle class, they had an outside toilet. I hated going there in the dark and was terrified of the spiders.

pharsalita_atavuli12 karma

Thanks for your time doing this AMA, and your contribution to society through your nursing. It's an incredibly important and demanding job that deserves more respect and pay than it currently commands!

Did you stay in contact with your host family after the war?

IAmAnEvacuee46 karma

No, I did not stay in contact. I regret this a lot, even now. I was talking about this with my granddaughter earlier today actually.

The family I lived with were in their late forties and had no children, although there had been two other evacuees who had families living there as well. As I had had no contact with my family during the war apart from visiting a sister once, and they knew I was not close with my mother or step father, they offered to adopt me. I declined and they adopted two very sweet toddlers, they understood why I refused but it strained everything. I was worried that I would betray my mother, I suppose. However after the war, I had an even worse relationship with my mother...we had had a difficult time beforehand but she had missed me growing up. We were strangers really. However I am glad I was not adopted as otherwise I think I would not have been close or even known my half sister or my older siblings.

I didn't stay in contact because first, I was busy, and secondly, I felt guilty. I had refused their offer and I was worried I would anger my mother, or even them, as I was not sure they would want me to talk to them, although I think they would have appreciated it now. By the time I wanted to talk to them, thank them and see what had happened to them, I did not know how to. However I did recently contact, through my grandchild, an old friend of mine. I am thinking of trying to contact the adopted children. The man and wife will be dead by now sadly, and on a holiday back to the village recently, I discovered the house had been demolished. I know they understood how much I loved and valued them, which is some relief, but I wish I could go back in time and force myself to write some letters to them at least.

10CPFC13 karma

Stay in EU to limit Tories abuses or leave the Eu?

IAmAnEvacuee71 karma

I am voting to remain. I believe that the Eu is very positive and I believe the immigration we receive is beneficial to our economy and our culture. I think the EU adds another layer of protection against human rights abuses, which I would not trust the Tories with. I worry that the leave campaign is causing dangerous nationalism and xenophobia.

TheBatmann10 karma

Since you've lived through a huge European refugee crisis before (Jews fleeing Nazi controlled areas) what is your opinion on Syrians coming to settle here in Britain and the rest of Europe?

IAmAnEvacuee89 karma

About the Jews fleeing Nazis...my husband was Jewish- born in Britain- and although most of his family, from Russia, I think it's now Belarus, came before the war, some stayed and were killed there, I think. I knew many survivors but not in his family, but because I live in a historically Jewish area and have a lot of relatives through my husband in Israel, and a lot of survivors who I knew through the communist party and my bridge club. It was only luck that ensured his family left before the immigration policy largely prevented his mother's family and his cousins from leaving.

Syrian people are fleeing war. My daughter works with refugees as she is an immigration lawyer and the stories of little boys being tortured and women and men being trafficked....I can't believe anyone with a conscience can turn people away or say they deserve to drown in the Mediterranean or don't deserve support, even. There are problems which some refugees cause, but I think that's because they're human and they're usually poor and not allowed to work and have been traumatised. I wish the UK would take more so that the refugees would be spread out across Europe so all could be supported instead of a few countries having too many to support. Syrian refugees deserve our help and support. It is terrifying to contemplate what they have been through.

Fitzyy9710 karma

We did a school play on the evacuees in primary school, all I ever thought about when we learnt about it was just how terrifying it must have been to be sent to live with a complete stranger at such a young age. What was it like? Also knowing that you're parents are constantly in danger, would freak me out 24/7.

IAmAnEvacuee17 karma

It is difficult to say what it was like, it was just life! Most of it was spent in a nice, and luckily for me, well off, family. The first week I was with a miner and cried all the time because he would come back from the pit with a black face from the coal and it terrified me. After I was moved, it was to a wonderful place. It was an ideal childhood in many ways. We were affected by rationing, for example, choosing jam or sugar weekly, and the clothing was always short and unfashionable, but the family I lived with had a share in a pig and we had a bit of an orchard as well, and access to berries and apples and pears, which was lovely. Living in the forest was beautiful, I went camping with the Guides a lot too.

I initially went to primary school there, but shortly after being evacuated, we did the 11+. I was able to go to a grammar school quite a bit away, we'd cycle for miles up the hills there and back which shocks me now. On the way we passed the ruins of an old abbey and once we camped nearby and saw the moon through the ruins. My family were not at all religious but the family I was with went to church often. It was a lovely church near a small old castle, and we had great fun going up the bell tower. It was idyllic in many ways. I didn't have to worry about the war, but there was a lot of war effort actions going on nonetheless and most of my family served. My step father was a builder and I didn't care about him at all, but my mother worked in a munitions factory in what is now a tube station, as did many of my sisters, and the sister I was evacuated with was a cook in the army later on. I visited her in Cheltenham for a weekend once, actually, which was the only holiday of my childhood! We felt very, very distant from the war, and as an evacuee, I was sheltered and protected in many ways. For many children it was terrible, but I was very lucky because I had a nice family who even wanted to adopt me, I had dogs, close friends, a wonderful education, and I had opportunities and happiness I never could have had if I had grown up with my mother and step father.

macgyverspaperclip9 karma

When and why did you stop being a communist? Do you no longer believe in its principles or are you simply no longer active in the movement?

IAmAnEvacuee18 karma

I was disillusioned with existing communist countries for a long time despite still being a communist, for example, after meeting many people who had Yiddish half destroyed by Soviet policies and hearing experiences of antisemitism in the Soviet Union too. I also knew a doctor who had fled after the uprising in Czechosolovakia in the 1960s. This caused me to leave the party. It was also difficult within the party because of the fact I had relatives who were high communists and were Chinese communists. However I remained a Communist at heart, and only became a socialist during the 1980s under thatcher. I was less optimistic and had had more experience of life. I felt that there was a positive alternative in the form of the Labour Party to Communism which was not a betrayal of my values or the values of my relatives.

Trixsterxx8 karma

There hasn't been much written I think historically about the evacuations that happened

Did you have family that got caught in the blitz and what was the rebuilding period like?

IAmAnEvacuee17 karma

I know my mother worked at a munitions factory in north east London in what is now a tube station. I live close by now. There were a lot of bombs in the area but we did not talk about wartime experiences really. So although I know she must have been affected by the Blitz, the closest I came was when a bomb was dropped a bit otiside my village. It was very strange as we were in the middle of nowhere. We thought it was probably from a plane dropping a leftover bomb after bombing Cardiff or Bristol, perhaps. Honestly, we found it exciting, as it did not land near a house or people!

The rebuilding...well. I returned to my family a year after the war ended as I wanted to complete my education. In that time, London still had so many bomb sites. Building was quick though, with a lot of temporary small houses being built which weren't very comfortable apparently, but they were very cosy and lasted for decades! My old school had been bombed, it was quite disconcerting. Nowadays the house I live in is lopsided and has structural problems because of a bomb which landed down the street. Close by, it is quite interesting to see bomb sites, you can tell where bombs landed, because you go from about ten red Victorian brick houses to one pebbled house from the 1960s and back to the red brick houses, so you can tell the bomb sites easily.

Broccoli932 karma

Which tube station? I'd love to see.

IAmAnEvacuee7 karma

She worked in the tunnels close to what is now Gants Hill.

looks_at_lines8 karma

What do you think about how the world has changed over the decades? Has it improved? Are we sliding backwards?

IAmAnEvacuee33 karma

It has changed so much! I spent my childhood with an outdoor toilet and now I can play solitaire on an iPad. It has improved a lot, with the UN. There is less poverty around the world. People in developed countries were starving to death in my lifetime. As well as this, the world is much better in that countries are largely independent and democratic. Previously, many countries were monarchist, dictatorships or colonised. Women, gay people and black people have many more rights and there is much more equality.

However I believe now most people in the developed world are apathetic. At least in the UK. People used to be very involved in politics...even if that sometimes lead to horrible politicians. There were mass revolutionary movements. People had hope and optimism. The last election in the UK, I saw very few political posters and most people didn't see a clear choice. I think it is a problem.

Nationalism is a serious problem but it always has been. People have become less racist and xenophobic but I think that means people dismiss it today too easily. Europe and the UK is becoming more right wing, and I know Europe and the UK is becoming increasingly antisemitic too. However healthcare and education and equality is improving all around the world, there are wars and still so much poverty and too many countries are dictatorships or in chaos, but I think the world has improved for most people.

Broccoli937 karma

Of all the books you've read or the films/TV shows/theatre etc. you've seen about the war, which ones would you reccommend for realism?

What kind of dogs were Peter and Peter 2?

If you could time-travel, what's the first era you would visit? And are there any countries you'd love to go to but haven't yet?

IAmAnEvacuee7 karma

I have not watched films about the 'Home Front' as they don't interest me. My favourite TV show is Foyles War and mostly it was set during the war in Hastings. It's excellent and surprisingly realistic!

The dogs were both Pekingese I think.

What era would I like to visit? What a difficult question! I wouldn't mind seeing a Shakespeare play at the Globe in the Tudor era, I admit. I have been fortunate to visit quite a few countries and lived abroad in two countries, but I would enjoy visiting Australia, where I have some relatives, and also the Czech Republic. Prague is supposed to be beautiful! I don't fly nowadays, but Japan would also be very interesting as it has such a long and interesting history.

acorn_antique7 karma

Than you for sharing your experiences here.

What are your hopes and fears for our NHS in the coming years?

IAmAnEvacuee33 karma

Mostly I am full of fear. The Tories seem to want to dismantle and destroy the NHS. I worry it will gradually become privatised. Doctors and nurses are overworked. However I think some areas of the NHS such as mental health care are improving a lot, and I believe the campaigns to reduce smoking, remove stigma for depression and encourage vaccinations of people who are vulnerable is very positive and will continue.

TheWo1f6 karma

What advices and wisdom would you kindly give to the future generations?

IAmAnEvacuee13 karma

I am not a good person for advice, as I am certainty not wise! I would say you should always admit your mistakes. If you are honest, people are more inclined to forgive. You will be seen as honest, you will learn and remember a lot, and you will be respected more.

joeybdot6 karma

What's the last great book you've read?

IAmAnEvacuee11 karma

I was reading 'Madensky Square' by Eva Ibbotson for the second time. It is a beautiful, beautiful book.

nursebeast4 karma

Ma'am, I'm a nurse in the United States, and am intensely interested to hear about any and all aspects of your training, practice as a qualified nurse, even just the average flow of a day on the ward. What areas of the hospital did you work in? Did you ever work outside of the hospital, eg as a district nurse? Do you have any photographs of yourself in uniform? What hospital did you train at? Thank you!!

IAmAnEvacuee4 karma

For the first three years, nurses rotated around the hospital, for me this was Mile End hospital. I hated surgery most of all! I spent the rest of my time in a chest hospital. I did not work out of the hospital. I have one photograph I think, I will try and find it! It honestly is sometimes quite difficult to recall a lot of the details. A lot of training was not medical or even related to direct patient care, rather we spent hours learning to corner bedsheets correctly. I spent six months working in a paediatric unit which was one of my favourite areas undoubtedly.

Remedine2 karma

Why did you think that Communism is the most effective form of rule?

What do you think about what Plato said, that people could be best ruled by philosopher kings?

IAmAnEvacuee18 karma

[note, she is not a communist any more]

I think communism is beautiful because it is for the ordinary person. It is for the worker. The people who have suffered and who are hurt the most by politicians. But it is also impractical and therefore unworkable. It is a dream I still hold and love, but not what one I believe in any more.

I don't know much about Plato. I think democracy is probably for the best for everyone, even though it can lead to horrible people being elected. Philosophers won't know or even care a jot about healthcare and the economy and all of that. And who decides what makes a philosopher? Who decides the philosopher king? Many philosophers have been fascist. They might think a lot and be intelligent and knowledgeable, but that doesn't mean they are infallible or good people. I don't really think people should be ruled. Laws should be made and upheld by representatives. That is not ruling however.

Siborg_Seadog2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA,

Having read a few of your responses I believe you said you've come to support the Labour Party in recent years as a socialist alternative.

If so, what are your thoughts on the rise, and possibly the fall, of New Labour, the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in general at the moment?

IAmAnEvacuee5 karma

[note: accidentally posted her response on my account, I'm the grandchild posting and typing up her responses. I then deleted what I'd posted so this is not verbatim, but her second response when she is annoyed for me making her repeat herself!]

Corbyn is not very charismatic. Labour is weak and are not challenging the Tories enough. At heart, Corbyn is a good person, but as a leader? I am also concerned about the antisemitism present in the Labour Party. Labour is not cohesive and charismatic enough to win any hearts or attract supporters. It is not idealistic. It is too central and that means it is difficult to separate or differentiate it from even the Conservatives! It does not stand out enough. Corbyn was a step in the right direction in ensuring labour stands for something, but he is not exactly a very charismatic figure. I am happy with the fact Sadiq Khan was elected in the mayoral elections a bit ago however.

dwyerdunce1 karma

Is there something that you miss a lot and you wish it would come back?

IAmAnEvacuee4 karma

I can't think of much particularly. Of course I miss many family relatives and I do miss how active people were! One of the most noticeable changes is how people are much more wary and protective nowadays. You cannot play on the street in my area any more, for example. I used to visit and explore the ruins of an ancient abbey and even camped with friends very close by to see the moon through it, but when I last visited, the ruins were so carefully protected and monitored that the wonder of it was lost I think. Of course, because of so many people visiting, that protection is necessary, but it made me wistful nonetheless. I also wish people were as politically involved as they used to be. The last election saw very few political posters in windows compared to the past, and people were more forthright and idealistic in many ways, politically.

TBlueBlur1 karma

Would you still consider yourself a communist? If so, why? If not, what would you say to modern day communists in the first world to convince them that it's inferior to capitalism?

IAmAnEvacuee13 karma

I am not still a communist. But I do not think it is inferior to capitalism. I suppose I must be a socialist. Communism is very optimistic. It was of the last two centuries, when there was hope for quick revolutionary change around the world. However it was easily taken over by the power hungry. Ultimately, communism does not take into account humans, and therefore is, to me, unworkable. I am not a theorist however. I was disillusioned with existing communist countries for a long time despite still being a communist, for example, after meeting many people who had Yiddish half destroyed by Soviet policies and antisemitism in the Soviet Union too. I also knew a doctor who had fled after the uprising in Czechosolovakia in the 1960s. However I only became a socialist during the 1980s under thatcher. I was less optimistic.

How would I convince communists today? I don't know if I would want to. I think it is idealistic, and that is a positive thing as capitalism is not idealistic. I think most communists will eventually not be communist, although whether they actively renounce communism, or are able to renounce communism depending on their nationality, is another question. I think perhaps I would ask them how many horrible bosses had they had and how many people did they know who have had power go to their head? I would not question the benefits of communist theory to change any minds, but just the practicality.

osiris27351 karma

Who would you vote for in the next American presidential election?

IAmAnEvacuee10 karma

I don't know much about the left wing in America, but probably Hillary Clinton as she is likely to win against the Republicans, which is what is most important for me.

GenitalDiddler1 karma

What brought you to reddit?

IAmAnEvacuee8 karma

My grandchild suggested people would find it interesting to hear about my experiences about a year ago. And today they showed me some paragraphs about a subject I found interesting on a history site here, about Australian transportees and Irish Georgians and Victorians. I suggested doing it again as I enjoyed it before.

PmMeYoPantiesFemale1 karma

1, has a bomb ever dropped nearby where you were living?

2, has the family you were meant to stay during the war nice to you? If not how bad where they

IAmAnEvacuee7 karma

  1. Yes! It was very odd. I lived in a small village in the middle of the Forest of Dean (near Wales). One bomb was dropped on a field. Not near houses or people, but we all came to look. It was so exciting! I imagine it was a left over bomb from a bomber returning from Bristol or Cardiff perhaps.

  2. The first family were not nice, or at least weren't sympathetic. I stayed with them for a week. They picked my sister and me because we were the last ones left with blonde hair! They didn't like me much as I cried all the time. I was terrified of the man because he was a pit worker and returned covered in coal. We (the man, wife, sister and me) shared a bed, which I hated, but he would come to bed straight away without washing his face! So I was moved, because of crying so much, I presume, to a lovely family. The man was an overseer in the mine. They had a large house, they had two dogs (Peter and Peter 2), a bit of land, a share in a pig...they wanted to adopt me after the war despite being nearly an adult. They were far nicer than my mother and step father. I was very lucky to live with them and wish I had kept in contact.

PmMeYoPantiesFemale1 karma

Oh wow, thanks for this! I don't think this applies to you but. Were children forced to work as labour or similar slave labour? Especially when Kids were in random stranger house.

IAmAnEvacuee4 karma

Some children were used like slaves, but not really where I was. In very agricultural areas, I know some were made to miss school often and work in the fields illegally. However I was in a mining area, and that prevented a lot of child labour as there wasn't an easy way to use children without anyone else knowing. The most I did was clean the brass taps, pick fruit for the family and help garden! I know I was very lucky compared to thousands of children who only have horrible memories.

mechteach1 karma

Why do you think families took in evacuee children during the war? There seem to be some folks who couldn't have children themselves, some who felt it was their patriotic duty, and some who wanted extra hands around the house for work. Were there other reasons? Also, how did you feel when you reunited with your family after the war?

IAmAnEvacuee5 karma

[note, as her typist grandchild, I managed to completely mess up and post her response on my avcount]

I do not know. I think many families just had to. It was just something you did. Some used it for their own gain however, but that was a kind of happy bonus, not the main reason, for most, I think. People did feel sorry for evacuees and wanted to 'educate' and 'civilise' townies too.

Being reunited was difficult. My step father had died naturally during the war which I was not at all sad about. This should have improved our relationship. However she had missed me growing up...I had changed and she had changed and it was difficult to figure out how to learn and deal with each other. Before the war things were strained and difficult. We were a large family. My brother had died when he was thirteen having been born with a severe disability, when I was in primary school, and she had had not much time for me or my other siblings. She had remarried a not very kind person and then the attention was on my half sister. My own siblings did not know me, they just remembered distantly a small eleven year old. So I could not bond with my mother through my siblings either. I also was very unhappy as I had turned down an offer of adoption and felt angry at my own family and the lack of opportunities and so on I had at home compared to my host family. I was very aware that if they had adopted me, I would have been able to become a teacher immediately, but I had to become a nurse instead as I could not afford the training. So we were both distant and unhappy. We couldn't understand each other, I suppose. I am close to my half sister and was close to my very slightly older sister and also my eldest sister, both of whom lived in Essex so I could see them frequently. However the reuniting with them was painful. I had seen one in Cheltenham for a weekend when she was stationed there, but that was all. We had grown apart and didn't know how to relate to each other. So reuniting was difficult and it was a long time before I was close to my sisters, and although I was in contact with my mother and she knew my children, we always had a very difficult relationship and it was strained even more because of the separation.

RiflemanLax1 karma

Being a communist in the US at the time that you were a communist would have likely landed you in jail here. Not sure if you're familiar with McCarthyism but it was a nasty witch hunt for communists. Can you comment on the differences between the post war UK political climate and the climate in the US at the time?

IAmAnEvacuee10 karma

I am familiar with what happened under McCarthy as my brother in law, who worked for America, but lived in China during the war, was accused of espionage multiple times and eventually left America. However as he was not born in America, although he had an American passport, he was much luckier than most. This was during the late 1940s, but it destroyed him.

America was much harsher and more scared. I feel a lot more people in Britain had sympathy with the Communists, even if they did not support them, and we were therefore able to operate more freely. However Britain was not targeted by spying and so on to the same extent, so I can understand why perhaps there was less fear. However by the end of the Cold War, Thatcher was very viciously anti-Communist, I was not a communist by then and this was much later than the 'witch hunts' in America, but it was quite shocking. Communists were equated with striking miners and trade unionists, and were therefore demonised. However most of the anger was directed at the striking workers themselves, but it was impossible to ignore the anti-Communist undercurrents.

DumbassJ1 karma

What was your experience leaving your home during WW2? Also, if you are Jewish, what was it like, hiding from the Nazis?

IAmAnEvacuee2 karma

I am not Jewish. My husband and his entire family were Jewish. Two of my grandchildren's fathers are also Jewish. Most of his family were in Britain a while before the war, however many relatives on his mother's side remained in Belarus and Poland, where most died. Thankfully I have been able to meet some who have survived, one actually escaped to France and was a member of the French resistance.

Sarastrasza1 karma

Did you support the Communist invasion of czecoslovakia?

IAmAnEvacuee4 karma

Not really. By then I knew of the antisemitism in the Soviet Union although I did not know of some of the other horrors. I was also friends with a man named Trone who had been close friends to some people who had been purged, or who had suffered greatly, such as Mayakovsky who committed suicide. I did not know him until long after this, by which time he was already quite old, and it made me more disullisoned.

A year or so after the events in Prague, I met a doctor through my husband who was Czechoslovakian and had fled afterwards to Britain. His wife was very lovely and we discovered he had served with my husband during the war, many Czechs and Poles fought for Britain in the Air Force for example. We found another coincidence much later, his wife who was a survivor had helped one of my husband's cousins emigrate to Israel after liberation!! However what he related disillusioned me even further.

I understand some of the reasons for why the invasion occurred. I am sympathetic to why the Soviet Union wanted to be surrounded by communist countries. It was only twenty years or so after an entire generation of Soviet men were destroyed. It had not been forgotten and was still feared. However it was, to anyone, obviously terrible, and everyone I knew in the party did not and could not justify what we knew of it. Many left.

MDemagogue1 karma


Thanks for taking the time to do this session. I'm not a Communist or a Socialist, but the reading list of some of the theory books you had is somewhat intriguing and I may try to dip my toes in to see what the other side thinks, so to speak.

I'm from the United States, and the year you were born in was the start of the Great Depression here in which the stock market collapsed and the unemployment rate was roughly 30% at the worst part of the Depression. I was wondering if the Great Depression had similar impact on Great Britain, and whether or not your family was affected?

IAmAnEvacuee1 karma

I do not remember about being affected by the Great Depression although I am certain Britain was strongly affected too. My family were I suppose of quite a poor background so economic difficulties would not have made life easier, however my father, step father and mother had been raised in worse circumstances so I suspect it would have been the same regardless of the international situation.

hoody_hoot1 karma


IAmAnEvacuee2 karma

[note, as transcriber! posted her response to my personal account intiially] I

do not understand what this means. The postwar was filled with a lot of hope for real change. Whether Tories or labour won, we'd have had the NHS, but we saw a progressive, modernising future, the boundaries of class blurring, social mobility rising....however remember I did not have a clear idea of politics before the war! Churchill was seen as good as a war leader but he was conservative and not progressive. People wanted to move on from the war and work towards a better, new world.

Coolmikefromcanada1 karma

Are you still a communist?

IAmAnEvacuee5 karma

No, I am very liberal I suppose though! I still love communism and it will always be at the back of my mind. It is my ideal. But it is also a dream. Now I'm a labour supporter!

leppernfriends1 karma

What do you like to drink? Like alcoholc. Also waht do you like to drink? Lis soft beverages

IAmAnEvacuee3 karma

I prefer white wine, but enjoy red wine as well. For non-alcoholic drinks, I mainly just drink tea. I also sometimes visit a lovely farm with a soecialised apple shop, where they produce Cox apple juice, which is the only fruit juice I like!

fueledbychelsea1 karma

My grandad was also a London child evacuee, after his house was bombed 3 times. He said the family weren't happy to have them there, it was a burden to them to house these kids. Did you get that impression too? What was your host family like?

IAmAnEvacuee1 karma

My first family were not particularly kind if I am honest. I was one of the last children to find a host family, it was past midnight when I arrived at the station and long past that when I went to their home. The man came home covered in coal dust with a black face, which was honestly terrifying. They had no time, understandable of course, but difficult for me. I was moved within a week to a family who by the end of the war offered to adopt me. They were somewhat distant but very kind, an older couple who were able to provide me with many opportunities.

Book81 karma

As a child how did you handle worrying about your parents being killed in the bombings?

IAmAnEvacuee1 karma

I did not think much on it. My father had died before I could remember, and I quickly adapted and didn't think too often about my mother or step father. I think sometimes I was worried to consider the dangers. I did not know what they were doing or where they even were, we had always moved around a lot so they might not even have been living in the place I was evacuated from, after all. It felt so distant.

anon01081 karma

any comment about Communism now that the implementation of it has proved flawed?

IAmAnEvacuee9 karma

I still love the idea at its heart. But it is wholly impractical. Politics is about humans and any political theory must account for human nature. Communism is idealistic but fails to do this. Any form of government or theory which allows for evil to take root or power, as communism does as a side effect of its practice, is flawed.

freckledirewolf1 karma

Were refugees back then treated as badly as refugees are today?

IAmAnEvacuee2 karma

I did not meet any refugees from the war until I met several relatives of my husband as well as several people who came on the kindertransport, due to living in an area which was traditionally Jewish and had many post and early war immigrants. However my mother did tell me once about the Belgian women who came to England in World War One, of course long before I was born. At this time she was a leather picker and my father was a soldier (I did not know him). She knew several who apparently were prostittues and did not look at them kindly even long after that war had ended. For refugees coming on the Kindertransport, I believe most were well treated but I understand some were bullied for being of german origin, so they were seen as the enemy, but that was a minority. I know the few who came on the transports stayed here and were, I think, quite happy, although I cannot speak for all of them or for their memories. Refugees are treated terribly today. More refugees are adult men and there is no great evil that we are fighting. For example, we have no troops in Syria so we do not see ourselves as fellow sufferers at the hands of ISIS and of course the situation in Syria is so complicated with evil on all sides. There is a far less united front of hatred against a common enemy. However during and before the war, there was by some actual hatred against Jewish refugees as we had our own fascists and Nazis. They were a minority, but they existed.

Anonymonynonymous0 karma

How was Narnia?

IAmAnEvacuee9 karma

I hate those books! I dislike their Christian metaphors and allegory. In many books that is fine, but I feel for children, either be open about your metaphors or resist using them. But I hate even more the fact that the oldest girl was seen as a bad person for daring to wear make up. How dare someone want to look nice? She was seen as a frivolous person but I am sure the older boy thought about what other people appreciated and thought looked handsome when he cut his hair. It was infuriating.

AdmiralRed13-1 karma

Do you regret your affiliation with Communism now, given the historical context we know now?

IAmAnEvacuee8 karma

No. Communism was impractical but the regimes who twisted it for their own ends were not communist. They make me angry to think of the pain they caused and because they dashed the hopes whole nations had for the future. But I do not regret my Communism. I do regret being wilfully blind at first to some of the greatest tragedies. I hate that idealism blinded me to the horrors others were suffering, which I am fortunate never to have experienced. I left the party upon learning of many of the cruelties and repressions and that is something I do not regret.

PatrickPlan8-2 karma

1.) What is your view of difference between pure Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, and Maoism.

2.) In the name of Communism Mao and Stalin both created some of the worst man made famines and repressive totalitarian states. Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot in Cambodia killed anyone educated to promote an agrarian communist state. What do you think could have stopped this rampant mayhem and murder brought by fanatic unwavering ideology dogma in example Mao explaining away why all the people had to die because it was in the name of Communism.

3.) Why is Communism the answer but Socialism not?

4.) Communism hard to work within a system that is predicated on capitalism for production of certain goods and services. Now if the workers controlled the production and goods but still operated within the capitalistic structure would that be a fair common ground for socialism / communism where competition still surps development and creation of new products and innovation but the people are vested into the company they own and all get a vote on the direction to go on? Or is the strong arm single leader systems of Stalinism and Maoism the only way to go in your view for Communism?

IAmAnEvacuee27 karma

[note, she is not a communist nowadays.]

1) I'm afraid I've forgotten most communist theory. Before my marriage I was very interested in Communist theory however I have forgotten most of it and my later years as a Communist was dedicated to supporting fellow members, garnering support and so on. However I have a lot of theory books around, I should look at them soon. On the shelf there is The Anarchist Reader by George Woodcock, the obvious Communist Manifesto, The Spectre of Capitalism by William Keegan, Economic Philosophy by Joan Robinson, who I knew quite well, Languages of Class by Stedman Jones, The Young Lenin by Trotsky etc.

2) I do not know much about the Cambodian genocide apart from the events themselves, not the background. For China...China became communist after a very difficult period. So many peasants who were just horribly poor...unimaginably poor. There was so much hope for communism, you have to understand. Communism was a future for all, it meant equality and literacy and freedom. Of course, those in power across all 'communist' countries took that hope and threw it away and destroyed it. But it was there. It was a hopeful period across the world in many ways. People thought there could be change. And China had suffered horribly. My brother in law was in China working for America during the war as an economist. He was a communist and accused several times of spying which he did not do. However before communism, the leader of China who was anti-Communist was cultish and horrible. During the war, millions upon millions suffered, and capitalism and other evils were representative who had caused such suffering: Japan, Chiang Kai Shek and so on.

So people would not have been so devotedly communist if they hadn't had a cause to be. However people following Mao were not just communist, it was a cult of personality and that is different. He inspired children to tell on their parents, a cult of fear and anger and violence. I do not know why. I think many people can be persuaded that their actions are for the best, it is how Nazism happened, and it happened under many other forms of government too. They dismiss their actions and look at what their perceived consequences instead. But also during the Cultural Revolution, it was so signficant how young the majority involved were. They were very young and felt taken advantage of by those of the past. They were angry and had suffered and were very vulnerable to being manipulated, like in the hitler youth.

3) Socialism or socialism-capitalism is probably best for society. The idea behind communism I still like, but it is not practical. Socialism is best for moving society forwards. But I do still love communism. I get angry thinking about it because everyone in the party was so hopeful, you couldn't understand if you were not there, but we thought we could do something and improve the world and the people in power all turned to cruelty and violence.

4) I don't understand this question. I am quite tired though. For me, communism is for the people, but it is impractical because people in power will use it for their own means. It should not have a single leader but be democratic. It must operate through the will of the people. However the will of the people often involves greed, or st least the will of the people administrating the will. That is unavoidable. It is a flaw in communism. I love the idea but it will not work for humans. Having just a single leader always leads to horrors and is not communist either.

Kiaser21-5 karma

Are you still a Communist? And if so, after a century of proof of how ruinous and murderous it is, how do you justify it?

IAmAnEvacuee4 karma

I am not still a communist. I do not think communism in and of itself is murderous or ruinous. However people can easily take advantage of it. That is its fatal flaw. It does not account for human nature. I still love the theory but it is impractical, and that is my issue with Communism. I do not lay the deaths under 'Communist' regimes on the head of Communism as the theory, but rather on the unwitting side effects of Communism, what is does not account for. Those deaths and horrors lie on the shoulders of those who used the theory of Communism to carry out their own violent actions.

stonesfan129-5 karma

How come you didn't go live in the Soviet Union if communist was so great?

IAmAnEvacuee5 karma

Well, for one I was aware all too quickly of the problems of communism and life in the Soviet Union. Relatives of my husband had lived in the BSSR...most came after the war and related being lishentsy (I believe that is what is called), collectivised cooperatives and problems within that, the repression of Yiddish language, for example. I had a friend I was close to who knew Mayakovsky, a great man who committed suicide under the Soviet Union, he had lived there himself being of Latvian origin. Communism is a theory. It is not the Soviet Union.

newfoundslander-12 karma

You again. Didn't you learn from the last time you posted, and it was a complete shit show?? Everything you've done is awful, Mao was a beast of a human being and you are responsible for supporting the misery and deaths of millions.

IAmAnEvacuee2 karma

It was not a 'shit show'? Last time nothing was mentioned of my previous Communism, I believe. I am responsible for an evil man and his followers because I lived in another country and was idealistic? Even my 'important' Communist relatives never were involved in the workings of a country. The person who was closest to communism was also a person who helped ferry a young woman, a girl, to safety in Britain through the Cultural Revolution. We are still in contact with someone who suffered, who had relatives killed and tortured, who considers us as her relatives. I am sorry you blame me for the pain others have caused. I regret many things personally. But I left the party once horrors were revealed and I have not funded or aided any regime.