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Ludwik Finkelstein

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
September 1947

Interview Summary:

Ludwik Finkelstein was born 1929 in Lwow (Lemberg). His father was a co-owner of a wholesale Iron and Steel factory (‘Finkelstein and Fehl’). In 1941 he and his mother were deported by the Russians to Kazakstan. He describes in vivid detail the difficulties of this internment in a remote place with very harsh conditions. In 1941 they were released and reunited with his father who had joined the Polish Exile Army in Uzbekestian. After following the Polish Exile Army to Iran, his father was posted to Tel Aviv (1943-1947), where Ludwik attended the Polish gymnasium. In 1947 the family came to the UK, where Ludwik Finkelstein studied physics, applied mathematics, and engineering. He later became a Professor at the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at City University in London.

My father’s view was that there would be a Polish Jewish community and Jews have got to be engaged in it. He had been an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He then became an officer in the Polish Army reserve out of belief that Jews cannot achieve full citizenship rights if they did not take part in the defence of the country. That was a very important thing to him.

It was September 1st 1939 - a beautiful day. Suddenly, I saw three planes flying overhead. I was aware of political tensions. I said: ‘Oh, they’re German planes.’ And everybody said: ‘Nonsense.’ And then the bombs dropped on Lvov and life changed entirely. The 3rd of September news came that Britain and France declared war on Germany. We said: ‘Oh well. The war is won now. It’s OK now.’ But of course it wasn’t.


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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