Matilda Levi with the Hashomer Hatzair group

Matilda Levi with the Hashomer Hatzair group

This is the Hashomer Hatzair group. Here I’m standing in the very center, above all. One could think I was tall, but I wasn’t. But I rarely sat when they took pictures of us, I don’t know why. The year is 1933, already in Sofia.

Of course, I felt pity when we moved to Sofia. I felt nervous that there were no hills in Sofia and there was no place where I could walk around. And the hills in Karnobat were all covered with almond trees. In the spring, the trees bloomed wonderfully. Sofia children weren't better than I was, especially in literature. They all used a pompous style; a fact that made me anxious and I couldn't understand why they spoke like that. I spoke in a different style. They didn't laugh at me for speaking in a different manner because they knew it was the correct way. The Bulgarian teacher always emphasized my good style.

At some point I contacted a Jewish organization that was something like a leftist scout organization. Its name would translate as 'The Young Guardian.’ I became friends with some Jewish girls. I also became friends with Bulgarian girls in the high school. There was a Jewish junior high school in Sofia but I wasn't ready for it, since there were only three grades in the Jewish school in Karnobat, and I went to a Bulgarian school. It was in October 1932. Some boys asked me, 'Girl, what are you looking for? 'I would like to enroll.' 'Well, go to the headmaster.' So I was enrolled in the class E. And there I graduated from the junior high school.

After I graduated, I left for Paris. My mother laughed because I didn't know French. I spoke only German; I had studied it in high school. I began learning French in Paris. There was a three-month course called 'Pantheon' where I began learning French. I studied really hard; I had really good written French. When I came back, the fact that I could speak French didn't help me at all.

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