Home Amalia Solomon

Amalia Solomon


Audio-visual items

Production date


Object number


Physical Description

Audio Interview with Amalia Solomon

Associated Person

Solomon, Amalia (Subject of [term no longer used for interview subjects, see Ownership])


Digital file (.bin)
Digital file (.mp3)

On display?




Amalia Solomon talks about her housing and her life in Italy and in Hackney. She talks about the conditions of the various properties she lived in and the changes she has seen. She also talks about the people she has known and people she has lost. She has attended the Asian Elders Luncheon Club for many years, which is where the interview took place.

Amalia Solomon nee Cesana was born in Venice and brought up in Milan. Her family was well off, but her father was forced by the fascist government to sell his shop because he was Jewish. During World War Two the family moved a number of times to escape from the bombing and German occupying forces, and ended up in Rome, where she and her brother were sheltered in a Catholic boarding school until the war ended.

She remembers how they were helped by people:

“My mother for instance, she was supposed to come from the South, because, the fascists they could not find out if it was true, because on the other side they could not go, so they don’t even know. But the moment my mother opened her mouth, they realize she was coming from the north. From Venice, from the accent, but they say ‘yes, yes, yes, she comes from Palermo’… And they help us through find this paper, to, with different name, and, any other help they could give us anyway.”

When Rome was freed:

“We had a very big party, where all our friends they say ‘Oh we knew, you introduce yourself with that name but we knew it was not…’”

After the war she married an Israeli and they lived in Milan but it didn’t last long. She came to London in 1952 to learn English, working as an au pair for a family in Stamford Hill. She met her husband, an Indian Jewish refugee from Aden, and they eventually got married in London. They moved into a Hackney Council flat in Great Eastern Road. She was not happy with the flat, but her husband understood that the council would have to redevelop the property because of the conditions. Within a month they were shown and offered a flat overlooking Clissold Park, which she loved:

“Oh my park, oh, it’s lovely. I was going every day. Clissold Park, we had, er, like a platform, and the people were dancing, and we had a stage there, and sometimes the council was providing show, it was beautiful. Dancing and show. It was very, very nice.”

When the interview took place she had been in the flat for 41 years, but was looking to move to somewhere more accessible. She talks about how she would like to solve her current housing situation:

“Now, even if I move, or the people, I speak also for other people in my condition, even if we move and go in sheltered accommodation, we don’t solve much, because still we have to do our cooking, still we have to do our shopping. That is why I am keen, and not keen also to leave the place. Only for the step. I don’t know I, otherwise, the ideal for me, to, I tell you what it will be, change, ask Hackney to put in a same, same space, with two bedroom. It will be ideal. And, er, only, in the ground floor or the place where I have the lift. And find somebody to stay with me. This would be, the best for me. And for other people, as I say.”

Her husband had died 5 years earlier. She always thought that she would move back to Italy but ended up staying in Hackney.

“In fact, even now, I speak about moving but before I decide I know it will be very difficult. Because I share this place with my husband for god’s sake, for 35 years… I call home England, I don’t call home any more Italy”