- Ilse Suss (b. Blau) was born on August 30, 1925 in Krems an der Donau, Austria to parents Karl Blau (b. 1892 in Kollendorf, Germany) and Adele Blau (b. 1898 in Schaffa [now Safov, Czech Republic]). She had two older sisters, Litzie (b. 1921) and Herta (b. 1922). Karl had a business trading horses in Kirchberg, Austria until 1931, when the family moved to Vienna. The Blau family kept kosher and celebrated Jewish holidays, and Ilse went to synagogue with her mother on Shabbat afternoons.
In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria, and antisemitic measures began. Karl and Adele sought to place their children on kindertranports to England, but since the family’s economic situation had become difficult, they were forced to take out loans to do so. Herta left on the first transport and Ilse on the second, leaving December 18, 1938 with two of her cousins. Litzie was over the age for kindertransport, but she saw Ilse off and was later able to immigrate and find work as a domestic in England. Ilse arrived in England several days before Christmas, and was initially placed in a camp in the seaside town of Dovercourt, where they were housed in holiday huts with no running water or heat. A group of Quakers from Welsyn Garden City had arranged for homes for some of the children, and Ilse was placed with a couple living there. The couple originally wanted a boy, but agreed to take Ilse, who was required to do housework in addition to attending school. When the war broke out, Ilse was no longer allowe to stay in their home, and became a caretaker for the woman’s sister, who had two babies. After the first bomb fell in Welwyn, the sister's family moved from the area, leaving Ilse stranded once again.
In order to survive, Ilse, then fourteen, had to leave school and work in a factory where her sister was working as a dressmaker. They later moved to Carlyle, in the north of England. Life was difficult, so when Ilse saw a newspaper ad in 1941 stating that nurses were needed, she applied and was accepted for training. That same year, her parents Karl and Adele were transported to the Kielce ghetto. They were later transported to Sobibor, where they perished in November 1943.
In 1945, after the war’s end, Ilse completed her nursing program. On December 15, 1945, she married George Suss, a refugee from Vienna whom she had met at a party in London when she was seventeen. George was the son of Phillip and Sidoni Suss and had two siblings, Rudi and Hedy. Hedy had managed to spend the war years in England with her husband, and returned to Vienna after the war. Sidoni had died in 1941, and Phillip was sent to Treblinka, where he perished. Several years later, Ilse and George moved to Edgeware, a predominantly Jewish district in north London, where their two daughters, Carol and Debbie, were born. In 1947, Litzie immigrated to Palestine. She instilled in her nieces a love of the country, and Debbie and Carol immigrated to Israel in 1974 and 1976, respectively. Ilse and George immigrated in 2011 to be closer to their children and grandchildren. George passed away in 2015.