Maida Vale woman who fled Nazis forced to work as maid to find refuge in Britain
A 93-year-old Maida Vale woman, who worked as a domestic servant after fleeing Nazi oppression in Austria, will feature in a BBC documentary on Friday (October 12).
Edith Argy, of Rodney Court, Maida Vale, left Vienna in 1938, aged just 18.
She was forced to apply for a domestic workers visa in order to stay in England, and find work as a maid.
Her experiences are documented in No Going Back, a documentary on the decline of domestic service which will be broadcast on BBC Two at 9.00pm on Friday.
She said: “I was desperately unhappy. Working as a servant never suited me.
“I came from a middle class background, quite bookish and was working in an office before the Nazi’s arrived in Austria.
“I was never cut out for domestic work. They called me a ‘tweeney’ which was half way between a cook and a maid, the lowest of the low.
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“We slept in the attic and had to work from seven in the morning until the last dish was scrubbed at night, every day of the week
“I always just wanted a day off to sleep or rest.”
She escaped domestic work after finding a secretarial job in Maidenhead and was reunited with her brother and father in Paris after the war.
Her stepmother, deemed to old to receive a domestic workers visa by Britain, did not survive the war.
Mrs Argy eventually settled in London with her husband, and has lived in Maida Vale for nearly 50 years.