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Leslie Brent

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
Friday, December 02, 1938
Experiences:

Interview Summary:

Leslie Brent was born Lothar Baruch on 5 July 1925 in Köslin, Germany (Koszalin, Poland). When the discrimination against Jewish children was made official, and after experiencing antisemitism at school, Leslie was sent to the Jewish Orphanage in Pankow, Berlin. He describes the years in the orphanage as one of the more traumatic experiences in his life, coming from a small protective family to a big institution. 

He was selected by the director of the orphanage for the first Kindertransport and arrived at Dovercourt Camp on 2 December 1938. Leslie spent three weeks in the camp before going to Bunce Court, a German-Jewish boarding school which was run by Anna Essinger.

He was young enough to avoid internment, but after being classified as an enemy alien, he joined the British forces 1944-1947. After the army he studied Zoology at Birmingham University, and was accepted as a postgraduate student at University College London under Peter Medawar (who was awarded a Nobel Prize). 

My change of name was forced on me in the army during the war. After my initial training I was told when going on leave: 'You better come back with an English name.' I totally forgot. On my return I suddenly realised I hadn’t thought about names & quickly looked in the telephone directory. I wanted to keep my initials LB. There weren’t many 1st names that appealed & Leslie Howard was very much en vogue. So I thought Leslie would be a good name to choose. And Brent I had just chosen almost at random from the telephone directory, because it seemed to go reasonably well with Leslie. So I became Leslie Brent. Well, that was okay, I mean that did help me to integrate, it helped me in the army. I became an officer in the army. I had to become English pretty dead quick actually. Because I had to look after English soldiers & so on. So having an English name was a very good thing from that point, too.

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@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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