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Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
3 May 1939
Ingeborg Steinweg (Inge Little) was born in Holzwickede, Westphalia in 1924. She had an older brother. Her parents were from Holzwickede and Harswinkel, Germany and both came from liberal Jewish families. She did not know any of her grandparents. The family kept the high holy days and Inge attended the Liberal Synagogue in Dortmund where the family moved when she was 4. Her father was a painter/decorator and an artist and together with her mother, they were caretakers of the Jewish Community Home in Dortmund. The family lived in a flat above the community centre. Her mother catered a lot for functions in the centre and Inge attended youth groups there. The centre housed offices of organizations, two halls, youth groups, a synagogue and meeting rooms. It was initially housed in Markische Strasse and then moved to Saarbrucker Strasse. Inge belonged to the Reichsbund Judische Frontsoldaten Sports Group and won certificates and medals in athletics and gymnastics. She attended a Jewish school. On Kristallnacht the home was attacked and ransacked but their flat was saved to some extend by a Brown shirt, who placed a table in front of their front door. Her father had already died in 1936. After Kristallnacht the family arranged for her brother to go on a Kindertransport. The lists were drawn up by Miss Kleimenhagen in the Jewish Community Centre. Her brother, Ron, came to the Jacobs family in Great Yarmouth and they arranged for his sister and mother to come over in May 1939. The family were very good to them and Inge helped them at home and in the fish business.
With the outbreak of war they had to leave the coast and settled in London. Inge went to work for a laundry for a year; her mother became a cook in a school. Inge was accepted to train as a midwife but her mother became ill and she was needed at home. She went to work in an office for a haulage company. They experienced many bombing raids in London but took them as a matter of course. She mixed solely with work colleagues and not with other Jews or refugees. She started a dramatic society at work and was involved with amateur dramatics for many years. She helped her mother and brother run a restaurant in Acton from 1949 for three years. She met her husband at the restaurant. He was an English engineer, Ken Little and they married in a register office in 1952. She did not work after marriage. They lived in Southall, London and had 2 girls.
The fact that I could read, I could see the anti-Jewish slogans everywhere and the fact that you just mixed with your own kind, and you couldn’t mix with anyone else– I don’t know, it was always there– I suppose it started, obviously, in ’36, when I was twelve years old, but I was– we must have been aware of it before then.
The transport was organised by the people who were running offices in our house. They had compiled lists of local children to be put on children’s transports, and my brother’s name got to the bottom of the list because of my mother’s work there. We had no connections anywhere; we would never have got out of Germany otherwise.
I’ve been dishing out a little poem which says: ‘I cannot change the way I am, I need not even try, we each are different and unique, no need to question why. If I appear peculiar there’s nothing I can do, so please accept me as I am, as I’m accepting you.’ There, I think that’s as good as anything.
I was German but it’s an accident of birth, as everything is. I say to people, I am British by choice and I am proud of that.
I worked there [the Oceano Laundry in Haringey, North London] for a year, the only reason I left was that during air raids we had to go to a shelter and the salt of the earth that these ladies were, they used to sing songs, by then I could understand quite a lot of English, and I had a feeling they weren’t the kind of songs I wanted to learn. They were raucous, they were rude, they were wartime songs. So I thought, what I need is an office, I need to work in an office I need to become posh.