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Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
27 June 1939
Alice Rubinstein (née Hagenow) was born in 1925 to a family from Hamburg. Her parents, Amelia and Arnold Hagenow, married in 1907 and she had an older brother, Manfred, born in 1922. Arnold Hagenow had fought in World War One and consequently suffered partial hearing loss. He was a chartered auctioneer, and Amelia worked with him as a secretary.
The family was religious, kept a kosher home and celebrated the Jewish holidays. Alice attended the Synagogue in Benecke Strasse, where Dr Holzer was Chief Rabbi, and went to a Jewish school. She was also a member of Ezra, a Jewish youth movement, and of a sports club.
Alice witnessed the Nazi rallies and her father was arrested during the 1938 November Pogrom (Kristallnacht), but was released on the next day. Her parents stayed in Germany but arranged for the two children to go to the UK on the Kindertransport.
Alice sailed from Hamburg to Southampton on the SS Washington, stayed two days in London and then lived with the Filson family in Manchester. Initially she looked after the family's three children, and later she got a job in a factory as a machinist.
After a few years Alice moved in with her aunt and uncle and took an office job while attending evening school. She met her husband Joe at a club for refugees called The Springfield. Joe was a survivor of concentration camps who was training to become a tailor. They met regularly at the club and attended Saturday night dances. Alice and Joe married in 1952 and had three children.
My first day in Manchester? Do you really want me to tell you? They were very nice people, but the first day we were having tea and I cut up the lettuce. I was told you don't eat lettuce cut up. It was London lettuce and you eat it with your hands. So I got tears in my eyes. That was my first day. I don’t want to .. I should imagine it isn't easy taking on another child when you have got three, but they saved my life. They were very good people, but maybe it was home-sickness? I don't know.
Well, I understood I was going to school. My mother always said, “If you do well in your chemistry, you will be able to work for Solly.” (My cousin was an analytical chemist - he had a laboratory in town). But I never went to school. Whatever I learned, I learned. Later on I went to live with an aunt. Then the Refugee Committee put me into a factory to learn to be a machinist. I was not very keen on that so I learned shorthand and typing at night... I worked in offices later on.
My first day in Manchester? Do you really want me to tell you? They were very nice people but the first day we were having tea & I cut up the lettuce. I was told you don't eat lettuce cut up. It was London lettuce, you eat it with your hands. So I got tears in my eyes. That was my first day. I don’t want to… I should imagine it isn't easy taking on another child when you've got 3 but they saved my life. They were very good people, but maybe it was home-sickness? I don't know. What was strange was the fires—the black grate. In Germany we didn't have that. It was very strange. I was nearly 14. All of a sudden you were away from your parents. It was very difficult. I was very fortunate. It was a nice home. A kosher home. She was a wonderful cook. They thought they had a cheap help as well, you know. But they were good people. Maybe in those days—I wasn't 14 yet, 3 months before I was 14—maybe in those days people got girls to help them in the house at that age, you know. But it didn't matter. But I never went to school.