Eric Kaufman’s father had come to London from Düsseldorf to set up a business trading in grain and pulses in the City of London. He was interned on the Isle of Man in the First World War, but his wife and small son were repatriated. Eric experienced many of the upheavals of the Weimar Republic in Düsseldorf, especially the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1923. He was educated at the Prinz Georg Gynamasium and had a number of German friends, most of whom remained loyal to him. He experienced little antisemitism until 1932/33, when National Socialism spread and people whom he had not suspected of being Nazis emerged as such. As a British national by birth, he was able to emigrate to Britain in 1933, but his father, who was the target of a Nazi campaign for his firm’s alleged activities escaped with difficulty.
The family settled in Golders Green and Eric’s father re-established his business. Eric worked with his father, but joined the Fire Service, in which he served throughout the war, experiencing the Blitz as a fireman. He became a great admirer of Churchill. He married a fellow refugee during the war, and lived in Goldhurst Terrace, NW6. After the war, he returned to his father’s firm, eventually taking it over in the 1960s with his younger brother. In the 1960s they also moved to Kingsbury. He has one son, who is currently Chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees.