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Edna Sovin

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
May 1939
Plane from Cologne, arrived in Croydon airport, parents received a transit visa, father’s brother was in the UK
Mode of Arrival:

Edna Sovin was born in August 1938 in Berlin. Her mother Hanna Beerman was a doctor and her father Fritz Beerman had a small business. Her maternal grandparents Bertha and Hermman Falkenberg active communal figure in the ‘Liberale’ branch of the Jewish community of Berlin. Her grandfather founded the ‘Liberale Synagoge Norden’ and her grandmother was the first woman on the Board of the Jewish Community in Berlin and was the president of the ‘Juedischer Frauenbund’ for many years. 

In August 1939 Edna and her parents travelled to the UK on transit visas. They took the train to Cologne, where they had relatives and then took the plane to Croydon airport. The family settled in Finsbury Park. When the war started, Edna and her mother were sent to the countryside and the father stayed in London. 

When Edna and her mother went before a tribunal they were classified ‘enemy alien A’ which meant that they were interned and sent to the Isle of Man, where they first stayed in a women and children’s camp and then in a family camp, where they were joined by Edna’s father. She has happy memories from her time on the Isle of Man. 

When the family was released they moved to Kilburn. She found it difficult to speak to other children, as her main language had been German. But now in London, her parents told her not to speak German in public (a fact that seemed to have troubled her later). When the second Blitz began in 1943, Edna was taken first to Shropshire, then to Birmingham. In Birmingham she was fostered by a young English widow who had a son. Edna formed a close relationship to her foster brother and her parents visited her every month. 

Towards the end of the war, she came back to London. Her parents had a small circle of refugee friends and Edna grew up as an only child without many other children. Her mother became one of the first GPs in the new National Health System (in Finsbury Park) and her father built up a small business (Beecha Products) Edna describes that her father was domineering and that her mother’s independence was in her work. Edna went to London Polytechnic to do a Secretarial Course and then to UCL to study Psychology. Later she became a Psychotherapist.  She married Stanley Sovin in 1962 and they had three children. Edna joined a Reform Synagogue in her late thirties when she became interested in Judaism. Today she feels that she has remained an outsider in most of the groups she had joined. She went to Berlin a few years ago when a plague was erected in honour of her grand-parents, Bertha and Herrman Falkenberg. Among the papers she inherited from her mother, there is a rich correspondence with her grand-mother, who survived the war but died 1945 in Switzerland (when her papers to emigrate to the UK had just come through). Edna was very moved to find many references to herself in the letters of her grandmother.  


@ Refugee Voices 2020

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