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Beate Planskoy

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
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Dr Bea Lewkowicz

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Beate Planskoy was born Beate Frankfurther in Berlin 1927. Her father, Paul, was a musician and ran the family textile business. Her mother, Henrietta, died in 1931. Paul later married Nina Lachmann, also a keen musician.

With the Nazi party on the rise, young Beate became aware of things changing around her. Her teacher didn’t greet the children at school any longer with ‘Guten Morgen Kinder’ but ‘Heil Hitler.’ After the November Pogrom Beate and her siblings were sent on a Kindertransport, which arrived in Southampton in April 1939. 

After her arrival in the UK, Beate was enrolled in Stoatley Rough boarding school in Haslemere. Her father and stepmother reached Britain two days before the Second World War broke out. Her stepmother had gone to the British Embassy in Berlin which was in the process of being closed and packed up. She found one member of staff who gave her the necessary documentation for herself and her husband, after she had explained their life-threatening situation.

After their arrival, the family lodged together in a boarding house off London’s Finchley Road. Beate remembers it being called Finchleystraße –because of the large refugee population in this area, and the Cosmo Café. Beate and and her younger sister Eva were given free places at South Hampstead High School. After graduation, Beate worked during the day and attended classes in physics at Birkbeck. She applied for a job at the Middlesex Hospital to work in the radiation department and later became head of medical radiation physics.

Beate’s sister Eva Frankfurther became an artist. Disaffected with the London art scene after graduating, Eva moved to London's East End, the home for several generations of successive waves of migrant communities. She earned her living working the evening shift at Lyons Corner House, leaving herself free to paint during the day.

Eva committed suicide aged 28. Despite the brevity of her artistic career, she left behind an important body of work based above all, on compassion for the dignity of ordinary working people of all races and communities. After Eva’s death, Beate made it her cause to carry on her legacy. After the interview, Beate showed the AJR Refugee Voices team some of Eva’s works.


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