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Hilda Schindler

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
21 July 1939

Interview Summary:

Hilda Schindler was born 1920 in Berlin to a liberal Jewish family. She went to the Heinrich Kleist Lyzeum and then to the Jewish school in the Grosse Hamburger Strasse. The family lived in Alt Moabit. Through a relation in Luxembourg, Hilda managed to get a Domestic Visa to the UK. Her first job was with a family in Muswell Hill who evacuated and she found another job. She had to go in front of a tribunal and was classed ‘C’. She was a fire-watcher during the war in Muswell Hill. She attended services at the New Liberal Jewish Liberal Congregation (later Belsize Square Synagogue) and became involved in Liberal and Progressive Judaism. Hilda became a dressmaker and later a teacher. She was very involved in Southgate Progressive Synagogue, which became her ‘family’. Her parents were deported to Theresienstadt where her father perished and her mother died in Auschwitz. 

[After emigrating to England] During the war I did fire watching. Taking messages on bicycle and things like that. Helped in the Red Cross shop. The shop in Muswell Hill was on the corner and from that corner we very sadly watched London starting to burn, because we could look down on the City and it really made us shudder when we saw that.

My relations eventually managed to get the permission for my parents and my mother’s various sisters and their families, to leave Berlin - on the very day that Germany invaded the Low Countries. So they were stuck.

I thought I would go to what is now Belsize Square [Synagogue], called the New Liberal at the time. To my utter amazement there was an awful lot of German in the service. The second day and that was all of German - that I couldn’t stand. Already on the boat I had decided to myself, ‘I am not speaking any German anymore.’


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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