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Rudi Montrose

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
Aug-38
Experiences:

Interview Summary:

Rudi Montrose’s (Rudolf Rosenberg)  father was born in Rumania and married his mother (who was born in Manchester) in Berlin. The parents ran a tobacco business from their flat in Berlin. From 1934-1938 Rudi attended the ‘Mittelschule der Jued. Gemeinde Gross Hamburgerstr.’ In 1938 he left for Manchester where he stayed with his mother’s parents. In preparation for her emigration his mother trained as a corset maker in Berlin. His parents emigrated in 1939 and his father who had been very ill died the same year. Rudi worked for his uncle who was an optician. Between 1943 and 1947 Rudi, who had been granted British citizenship when his mother reclaimed her citizenship, served in the British army in an infantry unit. He was stationed in Egypt, Greece, Italy and Austria, where he worked for the British army for two years. He tells us about the good contact with the local population and the fact that during his time in Austria he did not hear about the existence of concentration camps. When he came back to the UK he trained as an Ophthalmic Optician and settled with his wife in Cardiff. He eventually opened his own shop and joined the Cardiff Reform synagogue which was set up by German Jews. 

One day my parents turned around to me, and said ‘Look, we have to deliver all these parcels. You’ll have to stay away from synagogue and help us with the business.” I must have been eleven or twelve, and instead of going to synagogue, I went on my bike and cycled all over Berlin to help my parents. I’m sure that wasn’t easy for them.

I don’t know how it came about, but all I remember is that my parents told me, ‘You’re going to England’. And bags were packed, and one evening I found myself on a train for Amsterdam. As a boy I felt I was going on an adventure, a nice long rail journey, and I’d never travelled an awful lot. But I shall never forget my father’s face when the train pulled out.

When I first came to Manchester, my uncle said at fourteen years of age I wasn’t compelled to go to school. I would just have to educate myself and that is what I did. As soon as my English improved, I started reading some of the classics and so on, and I picked up English very quickly.

My main message is peace. It is absolutely essential. I’m not a pacifist; I know that there are occasions when you have to fight, but it doesn’t have to be with guns. You can fight intellectually, you can exchange your ideas and hope other people will come round to your point of view.

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@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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