Arnold Paucker was born in 1921 in Berlin-Charlottenburg to a Jewish family. He was active in the German and Jewish youth movements, and in 1936 attended the Ben Shemen School in Palestine.
In the years 1941-1947 Arnold served with the Royal Engineers of the British Army. In 1950 he married and moved back to Britain. He studied at Birmingham University and later became the director of the Leo Baeck Institute in London and a historian of German Jewry.
I’m old enough to have been in the German Youth Movement - the Deutscher Republikanischer Pfadfinderbund. You would call that Boy Scouts, if you like, loyally Republican. In some youth movements, Jews were not desired; in others there was no problem. In the Deutscher Republikanischer Pfadfinderbund every third member must have been Jewish, very strong.
I had to leave school - I was politically very precocious. In my school where half the pupils were either Jewish or not Nazi, we used to play a game when there were school meetings. You had to sing ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles’ and ‘Die Fahne hoch’ and we had a trick by shouting ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles’ in such a way that the Nazi anthem sounded rather feeble afterwards. I have been one of the people who organised that, and that was one of the reasons I was removed from school even earlier than I had to go. It was intimated to my father that he had best remove me, but eventually everybody went.
Despite the fact that my parents never thought what eventually happened would happen - they were as naïve as everybody else - they said, ‘our children have no future in this country’. They sent me to Palestine, well, they simply gave permission. I didn’t ask them, really. And they sent my brother to France. They themselves stayed behind, but they left Germany a week before the outbreak of the war.