Gabrelle Weissmann:

I was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1945. My parents, Ria Meerbaum came from a large family of 6 children, two boys and four sisters. Her father, Abraham had come to Czernowitz from Galicia as a young child from a very poor family, was taken apprentice in a dairy, and later opened his own dairy in the Dreifaltigkeitsgasse/Sfanta Treime. It was well-known for its butter and every day there was a basket in the dairy with 250 fresh bread-rolls for everyone to take.

My grandfather managed to get orders from all hospitals in the city to deliver milk to them. He was doing well and  in 1938 he opened a  milk-powder factory in Suczka, imported all machines from Denmark and the youngest son, Martin, was to be the manager.

It cost almost a million lei and was the first of the kind in Bukowina or even in Romania. In 1940, when the Russians invaded the town, the factory was confiscated, all machines dismantled and taken to Russia.

In 1940, under the German/Rumanian occupation, my grandfather obtained 3 authorizations to stay in Czernowitz and not to be deported. He had a cousin also called Abraham and gave him one of the authorizations, which saved this cousin's and his family's life.

My grand-father was also a cousin of Max Meerbaum, the father of Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger. Max used to come often to visit them, he was a thin, quiet, introverted person, unlike his brother who was handsome, well-built  and optimistic.

My grandmother, who had been very beautiful in her youth,  came also from a poor family of 10 children, her mother having been left a widow in World War I, with very little means. And yet, all the ten children grew up to be healthy, and nine survived the second World War.

On my paternal side, my father came from a very different family, the Golds. Dr. Gold, a gynaecologist, of Czernowitz, married a very educated banquer's daughter from Lemberg. She was very interested in the arts, read and spoke several languages, sang and played the piano, and kept a "salon" where she encouraged young Czernowitz artists in their career.

Margul-Sperber, the pianist ........

They had a son, Edwin Richard Gold who became my father. He also studied medicine, in Vienna, did his assistantship in Switzerland, and returned  naively to Czernowitz a short time before the Russians invaded the city.

On one of his visits home, at the Cafe Habsburg, he met my mother, a sporty, good-looking young woman who came in tanned, in a white dress and noticing she was trying to get her jacket, he got up and helped her into it, asked her name, introducing himself, and so it started.

Next morning a huge bouquet of flowers was delivered to the Meerbaum's home. My mother in her youth had one passion - sports - she was out all day, skating in winter skiing on the Cecina (1st prize in the Bukowina for 4 years), swimming in summer, running, handball, was in the Jask and Maccabi sports-clubs, etc.

All these beautiful memories were stopped when the war began in Czernowitz. I was born in Bucharest in 1945. Like many others, my parents came to Bucharest after the war. They tried all the time to emigrate and eventually we left for England in 1959. I had to learn English, but since  we had spoken German at home, Romanian in school and outside, and  with French lessons, it was not so difficult, just that pronounciation!!!

Bristol, England, was a very different place from Bucharest, the mentality  was so different, but we were happy to be in a really free world.

My father an immunologist, who wrote the first book on immunology in Romania  in 1957, helped build up the South-Western Transfusion Centre, then worked at the Bristol University.

I then went to London to study (main subject-Spanish), and in 1967, after  finishing my studies, I left England for Geneva, where I spent 5 happy years, working at various international organizations, including a year at the Sohnut.