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Rudolf Leavor

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Born:
11 November 1937
Mode of Arrival:
Normal (parents obtained permit to live and work in England)

Interview Summary:

Rudolf was born in 1926 in Berlin with the surname Librowicz. His father was from Inowroclaw and his mother from Munich. His father had three sisters and his mother had six sisters and a brother. His father had an orthodox upbringing and he went to University and became a doctor. He served as a doctor in WWI and won the Iron Cross, Second Class. After the war he retrained as a dentist. His mother was not as orthodox. They married in 1924 and lived in the Gruenewald district of Berlin in a fashionable area and the dental practice was in their apartment. Rudolf had a younger sister and they attended the local elementary school, 13th Volkschule in Schmargendorf. There were 3 other Jewish boys in Rudolf’s class. Rudolf was well treated there and reported very minor incidents. In 1936 he started to attend the Jewish school, Grosse Hamburger Strasse Schule. 

From a young age he loved music and the family often attended concerts. His father played the piano and Rudolf learnt the piano and the violin. He had a happy childhood. His parents were active in B’nai B’rith. His father was chairman of the lodge and his mother treasurer. In 1937 they were arrested by the SS and the Lodge was shut down. They were allowed home but from then on made arrangements to leave. 

His parents visited England a number of times and obtained permits to live and work and the family emigrated on 10 November 1937. They were able to bring out all their possessions and they smuggled out money. They were told that his father could not practice as a dentist in London or Manchester but that Bradford was all right so they came to Bradford. They later brought out their friends, the Egers, who came to Bradford and acted as wardens of the Boys Hostel, formed in 1939 for 25 boys. Boys there included Albert Waxman, Lutz Seisler, Geoffrey Philips, Shane Grunhut, Kurt Leo Eger, Ruth Simmonds nee Eger and Felix Hutterer. Rudolf attended the Bradford Grammar school and within a year was top in English. He felt welcome at this school. He attended Leeds University to study dentistry and then worked for 6 months in Eastman Dental Hospital in London. He then joined the army for just over 2 years. He served for 9 months in Aldershot and then the rest of the time in Austria until 1953. He came out as a Captain. Whilst in the army his parents had transferred from the Orthodox Synagogue to the Reform Synagogue in Bradford and Rudolf followed suit. 

1936 or thereabouts. …Getting ready for school one morning before my parents got up, the doorbell went, two men came in and said they wanted to speak to my parents. The maid saw what was going on and hurried me off to school. These men from the Gestapo arrested my parents to take them down to the B’nai B’rith Lodge headquarters, in the centre of Berlin. The members of the lodge were all lined up in a row, standing, and nothing happened. There was no food, no water and, when somebody wanted to go to the toilet, they had to raise their hand. And one of the men standing in this row was Rabbi Doctor Leo Beck, who was head of the Rabbinical Institute in Berlin, a very learned, very respected, very revered rabbi, who survived the war and later came to London. Anyway, they came home, and that was the impetus which made them decide to leave, it was time to leave, it was a red light.

Hillel said, standing on one leg, “Do as you would be done by”, if I'm quoting him correctly. I suppose that's a good message for people. All the rest is commentary.

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@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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