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Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Harry Weinberger was born in Berlin on 7 April 1924. His father was a wealthy factory owner and the family was not religious; for example, he was never taken to synagogue. In 1933, the family moved to Czechoslovakia (Teschen and Brno).
Harry and his sister came to England on the Kindertransport in summer 1939. Their parents later escaped to Switzerland. Harry attended private schools until 1941, and later worked in a Welsh factory until 1944. He then joined the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent, which became part of the Eighth Army in Italy. He was also a member of the Jewish Brigade, and worked for the Intelligence Corps in Germany.
After the war Harry attended the Chelsea College of Art and had a career as an Art teacher. He married Barbara and they lived in London.
Keywords: art, artist, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent, Jewish Brigade, Kindertransport, Intelligence Corps
I saw demonstrations, I saw clashes between Communists and Nazis, I saw real violence in the streets and I knew that we had nothing to do with the Nazis. When Hitler was appointed Chancellor, my father said ‘He won’t last longer than four weeks’ and didn’t take him seriously.
He shouted things like ‘Germany is in front of us, Germany is above us, Germany is behind us, Germany is in us’, and each time he was interrupted by thousands of people yelling ‘Sieg Heil!’ and it made no sense at all.
I liked Czechoslovakia, I thought we had found a second home there and it was a very free and easy country and it was a beautiful country.
I found myself in a boarding house in Finsbury Park and a couple of people, older than I was took me to a cinema. My first visit to an English cinema was amazing. Half way between the two main programmes, the cinema organ came up from the floor and words appeared on the screen and people sang along with the cinema organ. I had never seen anything like this before and I thought I’d landed in a lunatic asylum. It was the strangest thing that I had seen.
Unfortunately, quite a lot of people didn’t take him [Hitler] seriously. We had a, what do you call them, porter, concierge, called Fölzmann in the house and in February ’33 he turned up in full Nazi uniform, which was a bit of a surprise. When the Reichstag burned, I saw from our windows the glow in the sky and heard the fire engines and was very aware what had happened politically. But like many others we thought it would all be over soon. I didn’t notice any of the anti-Jewish boycotts or demonstrations. The school I was at…, I didn’t know any fellow Jewish pupils. I remember we went to Sans-Souci to see the castle of Frederick the Great and I remember the names of our teachers: Fräulein Hut, Fräulein Hase and Frau Direktor Tiezenthaler. And there was no nonsense about ‘Heil Hitlering’ or anything like that. Not in my memory and not while we were in Germany. But when the grown-ups said that we would leave Germany I was very upset and I remember walking through the streets near my home, trying to memorise them, I didn’t know how long it would be until I’d see them again.