Kindertransport
Mode of Arrival:

when it came to Crystal Nacht, my father was rounded up, together with other Jewish men. And he was incarcerated for... a week or so. During which time I remember my mother ageing by about ten years. I mean she was a young-looking woman, but...but that was a terrible time. He got out eventually, because at that time, the Viennese or the Nazis, still respected the war record, right? And when he came out, he told us, perhaps a little bragging, that when a young Nazi tried to speak to him, right? He told him to stand “Hab Acht”, which means to “Stand to attention! You’re speaking to an officer!”, right? So I mean he, he- and I must admit that him having told us this, all during the war, when we in England really weren’t told anything of what was going on, right? All during the war, I felt quite confident that he would be alright some... that somehow or other, on the strength of his war-time record and his general ability to handle things. But of course I was wrong.

In- on the critical day was the 4th of December 1938, right? It was a relatively warm Sunday, and I went out as usual still, to play or whatever in that park I described to you by the side of the Donaukanal. On the way back – of course I was expected home well before dark. And at about four o’clock in this- in December I was on my way back across the Marienbrücke within 100 yards or so of our house, right? When, coming the other way was a friend of mine; Bobby Mütz, his name was. We- he was... attended the same cheder as I did. And as we passed, he says, “Hello Otto, bye-bye. I’m off to England this week.” And I said, “How on earth are you going off to England? How do you do it?” He said, “Well, people- children are being registered in the Hotel Metropole...” – that was the Gestapo headquarters – “...to go to England.” And I said, “Well, the Hotel Metropole, you know it’s just around the corner, a couple of squares away.” So I turned around and I ran to Hotel Metropole and I joined the queue. It was quite an elaborate procedure. I underwent a medical examination and overall general questions. And in the end was handed papers, telling me that I would- whatever I needed to take with me in my suitcase and so on. And that there would be a transport at the end of that week. I mean, I’m not sure exactly what information. But of course it, this had taken till about eight o’clock at night. And I hadn’t told my parents anything. I mean, I should of course have gone home and told them what Bobby Mütz had told me, but my reflex was to act immediately. And just as well, because that day, I was number 300and... 359... out of 360... recruited that day. So if I hadn’t turned around and ran to the Hotel Metropole, I would be pulling out teeth in Treblinka or something. Right? That... So it was just sheer luck, right?

You- to go to England, to travel, to- this was a big adventure. And, and- and when I remember, I mean I tell this story to my children. That when my father took me to the station – only one person was allowed- one parent, was allowed to take you- that I was just terribly keen to get onto the train and rush away. And he held me back to.... [with emotion] to give me his blessing. He- he could see the future better than I could see. So, one... One doesn’t... looked back from the eyes of an adult many years later, one was really very sorry. One hasn’t got the sensibilities as a, as a, as a fourteen-year-old boy, right?

The good Lowestoft people, the first breakfast we had there [arriving in England with the Kindertransport], gave us kippers. And not just good Lowestoft kippers, not boiled kippers, but roasted kippers.We thought this was an attempt to poison us.

Well I’ve always taken care to keep in good contact with my family, with my grandchildren and, and great-grandchildren, and so on, right? Always given priority to... to- to them. It’s made me perhaps a little cautious and unadventurous. You know... And ...perhaps the most significant moment... was when I did have an opportunity to stay on in America, in 1955. And no less than a job at Harvard. But Harvard was not then, as far as physiology goes, as good as University College, right? And I decided I had enough with moving country once. And I didn’t really want to make another change and came back to England. That was perhaps the most, the one decision I made... where my past influenced me in a major way.

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@ Refugee Voices 2020

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OH: In conversation with His Royal Highness Prince Charles at the Kindertransport 70th reunion, 2008. “I fell into a tutorial mode, when I discovered that Prince Charles seemingly did not know much about the origin of Regius Chairs endowed by his great-grandmother perhaps, Queen Victoria, under Albert’s influence. He clearly was amused by my explanation.”