Liesel Grunberger, née Kober, was born in 1925. She attended the Volksschule am Platz (in Hietzing) and then the Lyzeum in the Wenzgasse. Before her emigration she attended a Jewish school (Stumpergasse, 6th district).. Her mother managed to receive a Domestic Service Visa (through the relatives of Eric Sanders, a friend in Vienna who emigrated earlier) in the UK and Liesel was found a guarantor. Her father arranged that she left Vienna on a train with the Kindertransport (although her papers had been arranged separately) . Her mother was waiting for her in Liverpool street station. Liesel spent the war years with her mother in London, living in hostels. She did not resume her schooling and started working. She also joined the Free Austria Movement and attended regular meetings. She recalls some of the songs which she sings during the interview. They mixed in refugee circles and her mother worked as a pastry cook, first at Willoughby’s and then at the Jewish Arts Club off the Finchley Road. Liesel started war work, (leaving a better paid job in an elegant blouse shop in Piccadilly) following an appeal at Young Austria to support the war effort. She met and married fellow refugee Richard Grunberger who was a leader at Young Austria. Her father, Oswald Kober, had left Austria for Palestine. His boat was docked in the port of Haifa but denied entry by the British and he was deported to Mauritius, where together with 1600 other detainees he was put in a British detention Centre. After the war, many internees were brought back to Palestine, where he lived for three years, before coming to Britain and being reunited with his wife and daughter. After Liesel got married, she worked for an optician and for Barclays International. She had three children and her husband became the editor of the AJR Journal. Liesel lost all her extended family in the Holocaust but has returned many times to Vienna. She sometimes feels nostalgic about the pre-war times in Vienna although she is sure that London is her home and she identifies strongly as British.
Vienna. Kindertransport. Young Austria. Richard Grunberger (former editor of the AJR Journal). Deportation of Jews from Haifa to Mauritius. Eric Sanders- Quakers