The copyright of all photographs belongs to individual interviewees. Please get in touch for more information
Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
29 June 1939
Bea Green, born Maria Beate Siegel, was born in Munich in 1925. She grew up in a Jewish Liberal family in the Bogenhausen district. Started her education at Gebele Schule then two years in the Jewish school, and later went on to Sankt Anna Lyzeum.
Bea left Munich on the Kindertransport on June 1939; her brother immigrated to England on an adult visa a couple of months before, while her parents escaped to Peru. In England Bea lived with her guardians in Winchester. Later she was sent to a boarding school in Wales which was evacuated during the war. After university she trained as a translator, had an impressive career as a lecturer, film subtitle and later as a magistrate.
The [school] director got us all into the assembly hall. He had this pact with the janitor who fiddled with the radio and it crackled and crackled. And the janitor would say every time: “Sorry, but the radio’s broken”, and they all clapped and went back to the classroom, never listening to Hitler’s speech. So you had little anti-Nazi tricks. You had to have a director who was courageous enough to do it, and a janitor who worked with him. And girls who didn’t go home and denounce the director.
When I left on the Kindertransport train in Munich and my brother left a couple of months earlier, the feeling was: we’ll all be together again. We never thought we wouldn’t; that was inconceivable. I was then a little girl of 14 going on 10 by today’s standards. I went to Peru [at] 27. I had met my parents before, but I was able to spend two years with them and in a curious way, almost caught up with the childhood that I had missed out on.
Yes, some unpleasant things can happen to you. How you deal with what is given to you, which may be beyond your control, is entirely up to you. And it’s your life, your responsibility. That’s what I tell my kids, that’s what I would tell my grandchildren. You can’t have everything you want. It doesn’t mean to say that you can’t dream. But accept reality courageously, don’t recoil, don’t step back. Say yes to life.