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Eva Ellinson

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
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Dr Rosalyn Livshin

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Eva Ellinson (nee Koppenheim) was born in Breslau in June 1933. She was the second of 6 children: 1 boy and 5 girls. Her father was an only child from Breslau. He had a traditional upbringing, went to University to become a doctor and became very Orthodox. He married a very Orthodox woman from Leipzig in 1930. She was one of 5 and her father, Mr Hepner was in the fur trade. Eva’s family lived in her paternal grandfather’s house in Breslau on Kastanienalle. He was an animal feed merchant with a warehouse in the centre of town. It was a large house and they had a number of servants. Her father did a lot of voluntary work and probably helped his father when he had difficulty working as a doctor because of the racial laws. They visited Palestine in 1933 but felt it was too primitive to live there. Eva was too young to remember much in Germany. She did not go to school there. 

Her mother’s family left for England in 1935 since they had connections there with the fur trade. Eva’s mother went over to England to have her 3rd child there in 1937 and they decided Eva's father would stay in London because of the situation in Germany. It took Eva’s mother over a year to organize their emigration to England but they managed to send over all their furniture, clothes and cooking utensils. She bought clothes for the family in every size to last them for many years since it was difficult taking out money. They travelled to Berlin, to an uncle in Holland and flew to Croydon on 4 February 1939. They left behind her paternal grandfather in the care of trusted staff. He died in his bed in 1941. From Croydon they were taken to London and travelled to Manchester. Her parents had a position as hostel parents for the Cassel Fox Hostel in Upper Park Road and 2 of the girls went to Rabbi Vilensky and his wife. They stayed there over Pesach and came down with scarlet fever and ended up in hospital. Eva’s parents did not stay in the Cassel Fox Hostel long because it was not Orthodox enough for them and so in June 1939 they opened their own hostel in Great Clowes Street. They had Liesl, their nurse, who acted as cook and she did wonders with the food.

With the outbreak of war, Eva’s mother took the children to Blackpool but soon returned. She attended St John’s Church of England School and her brother Grecian St School. Her father was interned on the Isle of Man but was not there for long. Her mother rented the house next door in Great Clowes Street and started a chocolate making factory after getting a permit from the Ministry in Wales. She had done a confectionary course abroad. They made kosher handmade chocolate, which were also kosher for Pesach. Eva attended Broughton High and her brother Salford Grammar. She remembered the Blitz on Shavuos 1941. Because of the bombing they rented somewhere in Harrogate and her mother’s sister was married there. Another sister was also born then (1941). 

At the hostel was a married man and boys of 18 who worked in the factories. There could have been about 20 and many more ate with them including girls. Eva and her siblings attended an Agudah Cheder after school and they had a private cheder teacher. One was called Ordentlich. For a couple of months she attended a newly opened religious Jewish school on Cheetham Hill Road but this did not last. Her father had an office in the hostel and a secretary and he was involved in relief work for refugees linking with the Agudah in London, and with Schonfeld. 


Full Interview


My mother was in charge. She was very capable, even though she was so young. Any money that we had, you had to leave behind. So she decided that we were going to fly to England and spend the money on an expensive air ticket. It was February the 4th, I vaguely remember this, 1939. We went to Berlin by train and from Berlin to Amsterdam, from Amsterdam to Croydon. And then we went straight to Manchester.

We grew up in a time when you realised that you’re in a county which has given you sanctuary, that you have to be grateful. That’s how we were brought up. And whatever it is here, you have to do your bit and try, and do as best you can for the people who live here. In those days times were hard and everybody pushed and pulled together. Your neighbours were your neighbours. So, in that respect it was much more cohesive.

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