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Gerald Jayson

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
21 June 1939
Interview number:


Dr Rosalyn Livshin

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Gerald was born Gert Jacobowitz in 1928 in Berlin, the second of two children. His parents were born in Silesia and Dessau and his father was a shopkeeper. He learnt boxing for self defence. The family were middle of the road orthodox, attending an orthodox shul but the shop was open on Shabbat. They kept the main festivals. Father’s haberdashery shop was closed down and father started making shirts. After the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht) his parents were arrested on charges of sending money out of the country and they were imprisoned. The children went to an aunt and were put on the emergency list for the Kindertransport. 

He and his older sister came to England on a Kindertransport on 20 June 1939. At Liverpool St they were picked up to be taken to a Refugee Farm in Millisle, Northern Ireland, due to a friend of his parents who was there. On the farm were 30 Chalutzim from Bachad, about 40 older refugees and c 12 children. They played and helped until Jan 1940 when they were sent to the Village School. Then Gerald attended Regent House School, Newtownards, Co Down. His spoke at length about life at this time. His sister was not on the farm long since she was old enough to go to work. 

In 1947 through the help of the refugee committee, Gerald went to Queens University, Belfast to study Chemistry. His parents had been murdered in Auschwitz. After his degree he went to London and stayed with his sister. He worked as a food analyst for J Lyons and Co and then became a Research Student at Kings College, the University of Durham, where he gained a PhD in 1955. He met his wife there and married. They moved to Liverpool when he got a job for Port Sunlight as a Research Chemist. In 1959 he became a Senior Lecturer in Liverpool Polytechnic, 1965 Principal lecturer, 1986 reader in Chemistry, 1989-1993 Professor of Physical Chemistry. He was Chairman of the Safety Committee and Radiation Protection Officer for a number of years. 


Full Interview


I think some people tried to give us English lessons… Mr. Mundheim - Handgröße acht (hand size 8), in case we didn’t behave ourselves - gave us a few lessons, but if you want to know how we learned English, it was The Dandy and The Beano. We got them after the kids, the English kids in Belfast the Jewish English kids in Belfast, had finished with them.

On one hand I am lucky to be alive, on the other hand, so are you. If they had come over here, they would have done everybody in, because they virtually did everyone in…

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