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Liselotte Leschke

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
3 March 1933
Interview number:

Interview Summary:

Liselotte (Elisabeth Charlotte) Leschke was born in Berlin on 31 August 1914 to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, both in academics. She has one younger sister, now in Sweden. Her family returned to Hamburg at the end of the war. Her parents divorced and mother later married again, this time to a Jew. Liselotte was educated as a thoroughly assimilated child from the ‘Bildungsbürgertum’, unaware of antisemitism in Hamburg. She left Germany for Britain 1933 to learn English, became a student teacher at Badminton School, Bristol, then took BA at University of Bristol. She secured admission to Britain for her mother and stepfather. She taught modern languages for many years, mostly at Badminton. 

Liselotte Leschke was half-Jewish by birth, but was brought up by her Jewish mother (and later Jewish stepfather) after her parents divorced. The family home was on the Alster in Hamburg. She was educated at Klosterschule and the Humanistisches Gynmasium, with little if any awareness of her Jewish identity before 1933. She mixed freely with Christian schoolmates and had no Jewish religious observance whatsoever. Her father was a professor of medicine in Berlin; her  mother a lecturer in economics at the Institute of Sociology, Hamburg. She was also related to Albert Einstein. She had a highly musical and artistic background. She left Germany for Britain after her Abitur, to learn English in Cardiff. She was employed as a student teacher at Badminton School, Bristol, one of the best-know girls’ schools in England. She took a BA in German with French at Bristol University in 1938. She returned regularly to Germany, on one occasion finding herself within touching distance of Hitler when he visited Hamburg, but built her life in England. She was able, through university contacts, to bring her mother and stepfather to Britain after the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht). She commenced her teaching career despite the outbreak of war. She was invited to return to Badminton, where she taught for many years. She was school librarian and played a part in a wide range of school activities. She also ran the Bristol Music Club for seven years and sat on many committees of Bristol University, especially active in its Alumni Association, awarded honorary MA in 1996 for services to the University.


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