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Babette Krausz

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
1 February 1939
Experiences:

Interview Summary:

Babette Krausz (née Sohn) was born in 1937 in Leipzig. Her father was one of four children of a very poor family from Würzburg, and later became a University Professor in Maths and Science. Babette’s mother had five sisters, and her father was a textile merchant from Frankfurt.

 

Babette’s parents married in Frankfurt in 1930. She had two older sisters, Hannah and Elsie, and a younger brother, Henry, who was born in 1944 in England.

 

Babette has no memories of her grandparents or of Germany. The family came to England in February 1939, thanks to a relative who had acted as guarantor. With the outbreak of war they moved to Dorking, where a community of orthodox and other Jewish refugees established a small community. Babette’s father worked as a Hebrew teacher and travelled around the area in this capacity, although for a while he was interned.

 

Babette and her sisters attended the local primary school, and she has happy memories of her time there. She also remembers celebrating VE Day in London with relatives. 

 

In 1945 the family moved to Gateshead where her parents were appointed as house-parents to the newly opened boys boarding school in Gladstone Terrace, which opened with approximately 25 refugee boys aged 11-16. The family stayed in the school for five years and then moved to their own house.

 

Babette’s mother operated the kindergarten in the house and also worked in the mikveh and for the chevra kadisha (a Jewish organisation that deals with burial). Her father taught in the Cheder in Newcastle.

 

Babette attended the local primary school, the grammar school and Gateshead Seminary for three years and later started teaching at a primary school. In 1959 she married Gabriel Krausz from Switzerland. They bought a house in Cambridge Terrace before leaving for Manchester in 1965.

 

Gabriel Krausz was qualified as a Rabbi, and acted as a Rabbi of a community in Manchester for 33 years. Babette and Gabriel had nine children.

One of the biggest lessons we can learn from what happened in the last sixty years should be the message of all these reminiscing, not just for the sake of reminiscing, but to learn something from it. If it can give such a message across, to see what people made of their lives, having come through with nothing, they did everything to make sure the next generation has the ability to grow, then we have to grow, and we have to use it and we have to hand it down. I don’t know if that message will hit home, but I think that is very important.

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@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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