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Otto Hutter

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
12 December 1938 in Harwich

Interview Summary:

Otto Fred Hutter was born in 1924 in Vienna as the second child of Elisabeth Grünberg from Vienna and Isaak Hutter who had come from near Lvov (now Ukraine) to Vienna for his law studies. Before he finished his studies, World War I broke out and he joined the army which he left promoted to the rank of officer. When he contracted Typhus he met his future wife in the field hospital where she worked as nurse. They married in June 1919 and moved into a flat in Lilienbrunngasse 3 in Leopoldstadt, which was given to Elisabeth as dowry by her father. Otto remembers the flat nicely furnished and with two live-in maids. He also remembers that later after the Anschluss it was also on the street where the Nazis held their “torch parades” and how the mother closed the wooden shutters. After primary school Otto joined the Chajes Gymnasium and as it was an all -Jewish school he was shielded with his fellow students from anti-Semitism. But he remembers how the walk to school past the “Stürmer” advertisements at the newsstand were a daily torture. He realised that life had changed in a bad way because his father spent more time at home, which meant that money was getting scarce. One evening on his way home from the park Otto ran into a friend who told him about the Kindertransport to Great Britain. Without checking with his parents first, he went to Hotel Metropole and signed himself up as no. 359– out of 360 children on this day. He thinks that was very lucky as the first transports went without needing guarantors and also boys his age were favoured (keeping in mind that soon they would be too old to go on the KT). He remembers his father blessing him before getting on the train and he regrets being a thoughtless teenager eager to leave and not being more sensitive to his father’s pain in parting with him. He remembers arriving in Dovercourt and his first English breakfast of kipper which he didn’t appreciate. From there he went on to Broadstairs where he lived in an hostel. Luckily he was chosen as one of two boys for a scholarship at the prestigious Bishop Stortford College (private school). He had turned down all suggestions of learning a trade remembering his father’s insistence on a good education. He settled well and remembers that the fellow students were all very friendly. Some of them took him home during the school holidays. He excelled in school – especially in biology and chemistry and so moved on from Bishop Stortford College to the Research laboratories in Beckenham, Kent. This is also where he met his wife, Yvonne, who he married after passing his degree. They got married in a shtiebel in Great Portland Street. After the war and many years of correspondence with the Red Cross he found out that his parents had fled from Vienna to Eastern Poland. The last known address was in Yarychiv Novyi near Lvov and he suspects that they became victims of a pogrom there on 15.1.1943. This is the day he commemorates as the day of their death. After the war he went to UCL and became their first post- war graduate in physiology. Later he won a Rockefeller Travelling Fellowship and lived with his family in the USA. After the return to the UK he became Regius Professor of Physiology in Glasgow where he brought up his four children. He also retired there but later moved with his wife to Bournemouth to be near one of his daughters who had settled there. He visited Vienna reluctantly for the first time in 1963. It wasn’t the Vienna he remembered, he didn’t see memorials to commemorate the murdered Jews of Vienna and memories of his earlier life overwhelmed him. He came back later with his family to put down two Stolpersteine in Lilienbrunngasse 3 for his parents. He doesn’t miss anything about his life in Vienna and he feels no Austrian heritage. He doesn’t think his life would have been as rich with possibilities as it was in the UK. However he feels “survivors guilt” insofar as he thinks that he had all the luck in his family compared to his parents and his sister Rita. She came as a domestic as she was too old for the Kindertransport and later worked as a nurse but never found fulfilment in her work like he did. Otto is grateful for his large family and always puts them first. He is very proud of all of them and happy that some of his grandchildren live in Israel.


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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