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Ilse Ryder

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
12 January 1939
Interview number:


Dr Jana Buresova

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Ilse Ryder (nee Stein), was born in 1928, and like her parents Ernst George and Elise (nee Grunfeld), in Brux, Czechoslovakia (now Most, Czech Republic). Ilse’s lawyer father was ‘a convinced atheist’, and the family was totally secular.

After her parents’ divorce, seven-year-old Ilse moved to Vienna with her mother, a mathematics lecturer in higher education. Their Czechoslovak passports provided some protection from the Nazis after the Anschluss, but for safety they returned to Prague in October 1938, following the Munich Agreement ceding the Sudetenland region to Hitler.

Thanks to her friend Anneliese (Anna) Niethammer, Elise obtained a domestic service post as a cook in Blackheath, then through the Barbican Mission to the Jews, arranged for Ilse to fly to Croydon on 12 January 1939. Ilse was first taken to the Mission’s children’s home, where she experienced ‘a huge, huge homesickness’. Despite attending ten different schools and the disruption of evacuation to Devon, Ilse and Holga Heller became the best girl/boy at school. Taught by missionaries, she developed an ‘acute religious fervour for Christianity’.

After studying at the University of Oxford, Ilse also became a mathematics lecturer in higher education. She met, and in 1958 married Leslie Ryder, a non-Jewish geography teacher, subsequently an Education Officer. Both sons attended church schools, but ‘are conscious of their Jewish background’, and interested in Austria/Czech Republic.

Post-war, Ilse’s mother resumed her teaching career, ultimately at Brunel University, but her father had starved to death in Lodz, and a grandmother and others had died in Auschwitz.

Influenced by former Czechoslovak Kindertransport refugee Lord Alf Dubs, and his support in Parliament of refugee children, Ilse cited him as an example of success despite a disrupted childhood, and stressed that other refugees were successful too.

Key words:

Anneliese (Anna) Niethammer, Ernst, Grunfeld, Holga Heller, Ilse Ryder, Leslie Ryder, Stein.

Barbican Mission to the Jews, Brux, England, Lodz, Most, Munich, Prague, Vienna.


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