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Arieh Handler

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
End of 1938
Interview number:


Dr Bea Lewkowicz

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Arieh Handler was born in 1915 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, where his father was an army officer. He grew up in Magdeburg, Germany, and attended Hoffmann's Yeshiva in Frankfurt while also attending a state gymnasium. Arieh later combined studies at Berlin University with the Hildesheimer Rabbinic Seminary. He became the Director of the religious Youth Aliyah organisation Brit HaNoar, and organised 'Hachscharot' (vocational and agricultural training undertaken in view of emigrating to Palestine). Arieh was allowed to travel in and out of Germany to find places for young people on their way to Palestine. He travelled frequently to the UK to try to convince the local Jewish leadership to accept more young people from Germany. After the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht) in November 1938 Arieh continued his rescue mission from London.


During the war Arieh worked from Woburn House as the Director of the youth movement Bachad (Brit Chaluzim Datiyim, English: Alliance of Religious Pioneers) and travelled widely throughout the UK to farms and camps where Bachad members lived and worked.


The biggest 'Hachsharah' Centre was located in Wales in Gwrych Castle. Arieh married the conductor of the youth choir from Berlin in 1940.


After the war, Arieh was involved with illegal immigration of survivors and refugees to Palestine, and eventually emigrated himself. He was present at the signing of the Israeli Independence Declaration in 1948.


In the 1950s Arieh came back to the UK and worked for an insurance company, later becoming a banker. He remained involved with the rescue of Jews, particularly from Russia and Ethiopia. He was president of the Mizrachi Federation and member of the Board of Deputies. Towards the end of his life he returned to Israel, where he died in 2011.


Full Interview


I had relatives who … feared that the Nazis will be a force, a tremendous force, and our job was, my job was, even as a very, very young man, to tell parents, “Enable your children to get training in agriculture or any profession so that they should be able to live outside Germany” That was in 1933, when Hitler just came to power.

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