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Mirjam Finkelstein

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
1 January 1947
Post-war, came from the US
Mode of Arrival:

Mirjam Finkelstein was born in Berlin in 1933. She is the daughter of Margarethe and Dr Alfred Wiener, the founder of the Wiener Library. Dr Wiener and his family fled Germany in 1933 and settled in Amsterdam. While Alfred Wiener was in the U.S.A, Mirjam, her two sisters, Eva and Ruth, and her mother were deported to Westerbork and then to Bergen-Belsen. In early 1945 she was moved from Bergen-Belsen to Switzerland. Between 1945 and 1947 Mirjam lived in the U.S.A. and then returned with her father to the UK, where she finished her schooling at the Paddington and Maida Vale School for Girls. There she studied Maths, Chemistry, and Physics and became a Maths teacher. Mirjam Finkelstein has three children and lives in London. 

We were in Amsterdam in Johann Van Eyck Straat where my father’s library - the Jewish Central Information Office - all the material, was. So we really lived on top of the shop. I think my father had been agitating against the regime, and started to collect anti-Semitic material… He believed in sort of condemning people from what they had written. He couldn’t possibly stay any length of time in Germany with these things. So that is how he came to move to Holland; he chose Holland because it had been neutral in the First World War. Many people were lulled into this sense of security.

In 1939 my father decided that it was not really on neutral soil, such a library. And so he decided to take the library to… England… financed by the BBC and Foreign Office then. It was very useful to them. They didn’t like it to be called something with ‘Jewish’ in it because … perhaps the information wouldn’t be taken as seriously. So it was called the ‘Wiener Library’.

Young people over 16 were called up for labour camp. That is why the Franks, who were part of our community, went into hiding. Margo, the older one, whom [sister] Ruth knew better actually - she didn’t know Anne so well - was 16. She was just that bit older and was called up for labour camp... That’s when they hid because young people who went to… very few of them ever came back.

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@ Refugee Voices 2020

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