- My mother actually was initially from the East End, her parents came from Galicia [in Poland] … my father was a refugee. He arrived here in November 1938 when he escaped the Nazis. He was actually very lucky, he came from Vienna…over 90% of Polish Jewry died during the Holocaust, but more than 50% of Austrian and German Jews survived and my father was one of the lucky ones…there was a very small Charedi community. There was a small Kehillah (congregation) which grew and immediately after the war when a lot of refugees arrived from all over Eastern Europe. Later on there were refugees because of something called the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, and then another influx of Yidden (Jewish people) who arrived from Hungary.
Rabbi Pinter born Stamford Hill, 1949
- I was born in London in 1947 and we lived at the time in Elm Park, just past Romford. My parents moved back to Dalston soon after I was born. Both my grandparents and my father were in the fur trade, and other relatives too. It was a common thing for Jewish people to do at the time. There were a lot who owned tailor shops, food shops, kosher butchers. Next door to my father’s parents lived Mr Weinbaum who was a Shochet (trained to slaughter animals according to Jewish dietary laws) and a Mohel (Jewish person trained in the religious practice of circumcision).
Tzvi Rabin - born Romford, 1947
- Then the war ended and my grandfather had to go to a Bar Mitzvah (coming of age ritual for boys) in Leabridge Road and I walked with him. On Clapton Common, between the pond and Portland Avenue he stopped and spoke to a Jewish man in Yiddish and at the time I couldn’t speak Yiddish …. So after a few minutes my grandfather left him and came to join me again and we went on to Clapton and my grandfather said, ‘that was such an interesting man’. He told me he was what they called a Chassid and he didn’t think there was any of them left, he thought they’d all been murdered during the war. ‘I am so pleased,’ he said, ‘that a handful of them survived’
Malcolm Shears - born Whitechapel, 1936
- [On arriving in London] well, I was amazed at the vastness of it all. Things were so big. I mean, Vienna was a town, but nothing like that. Then we got out of the station, we got on a bus – on a double decker bus – which was something I had never seen before. Then I went to where my uncle lived in Hampstead … and my surprise for breakfast was that they offered me a cup of tea which in Vienna when anyone had a cup of tea with milk it was only when somebody wasn’t well, so it was something very strange.
Mrs Hochberg - born Vienna, Austria, 1921
- I arrived in January 1939 to London and as I was only 6 months old at the time I can’t really remember anything about the journey. I remember when a bomb fell in Bethune Road (1940) and destroyed a house together with a whole Yiddishe (Jewish) family. When that bomb exploded I was sitting in my bath in Heathland Road, where we lived and the ceiling came down into the bath where I was sitting and from the shock I lost my speech and I couldn’t get it back for a whole year.
Baila Stern - born Austria, 1938
- In 1938 Hitler took over Austria and things were not so good for us Yidden (Jewish people). Dr. Schonfeld from London organised a kindertransport… Eventually we arrived and were put onto a train to London. After we arrived at Liverpool Street Station Dr. Schonfeld organised taxis to bring us into town and he divided up the children among places that were available to him. The youngest bunch, about 40 of us, he took to his house in Stamford Hill…which is actually the house I live in now.
Blanca Stern – born Vienna, Austria, 1930