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Bea Green

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
29 June 1939

Interview Summary:

Bea Green, originally named Maria Beatha Siegel was born in Munich in 1925.  She grew up in a Jewish Liberal family in the Bogenhausen district.  Started her education at Gebele Schule then two years in the Jewish school, and later went on to Sankt Anna Lyzeum.


Bea left Munich on the Kindertransport on June 1939; her brother immigrated to England on an adult visa a couple of months before, while her parents escaped to Peru. In England Bea lived with her guardians in Winchester.  Later she was sent to a boarding school in Wales which was evacuated during the war.   After university she trained as a translator, had an impressive career as a lecturer, film subtitle and later as a magistrate.

The [school] director got us all into the assembly hall. He had this pact with the janitor who fiddled with the radio and it crackled and crackled. And the janitor would say every time: “Sorry, but the radio’s broken”, and they all clapped and went back to the classroom, never listening to Hitler’s speech. So you had little anti-Nazi tricks. You had to have a director who was courageous enough to do it, and a janitor who worked with him. And girls who didn’t go home and denounce the director.

When I left on the Kindertransport train in Munich and my brother left a couple of months earlier, the feeling was: we’ll all be together again. We never thought we wouldn’t; that was inconceivable. I was then a little girl of 14 going on 10 by today’s standards. I went to Peru [at] 27. I had met my parents before, but I was able to spend two years with them and in a curious way, almost caught up with the childhood that I had missed out on.

Yes, some unpleasant things can happen to you. How you deal with what is given to you, which may be beyond your control, is entirely up to you. And it’s your life, your responsibility. That’s what I tell my kids, that’s what I would tell my grandchildren. You can’t have everything you want. It doesn’t mean to say that you can’t dream. But accept reality courageously, don’t recoil, don’t step back. Say yes to life.


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

Made by BookJaw

BG: Father Dr. Michael Siegel being marched round Munich after going to the police station to complain on behalf of a Jewish client whose shop had been damaged, Munich, 10th March 1933. "My father had gone to the Police Headquarters to launch a complaint on behalf of a client whose store had been damaged and he’d been taken prisoner. And they said to him, oh Dr. Siegel, you are wanted in room number so-and-so which happened to be in the basement where he found a whole lot of Brownshirts who beat him up and kicked in his teeth, bashed his eardrums, cut off his trouser legs and marched him round Munich like that for an hour maybe, let him go near the main station. Now he never told me this, but he told it to a cousin of mine, they then said ‘go!’ and as he was going they cocked their rifles and said: “Jetzt stirbst du, Jud’!” Now you are going to die, but they never actually fired a shot. So he got into a taxi and a man came up to him and said, look I have just taken some photographs do you mind if I publish them and my father said, do what you like. And that was the photographer... And he sent it off to America, and he was afraid to use it in Germany because apparently the other story is that when Hitler actually got to hear of it he was furious because he did not at that point want that sort of behaviour to be known."