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Jacques Broch

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
End of August 1939
Interview number:


Dr Rosalyn Livshin

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Jaques Broch was born on 4 July 1931 in Vienna. His mother, Clara Bien, was from Bratislava and his father, Paul Broch, was from Vienna. His mother’s family moved from Poland to Vienna and Jaques was very close to his maternal grandmother, who was very religious. His grandfather, Yaacov Broch was born in Vienna in 1857. He fought for the Austro-Hungarian army and was discharged in 1890. His father fought for Austria in World War I, reaching rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was taken prisoner and sent to Siberia. He stayed in Russia teaching army cadets of the Red Army until 1921. He met and married Clara in the 1920s and had two daughters, Sonia and Lola, and a son, Jaques. He helped in the family shop, selling perfumes and pharmaceutical items and was a travelling salesman. He was not as religious. The family lived in the 20th district on Wintergasse. 


Jaques attended a non-Jewish school very briefly before the Nazis came and the family were forced to move to the 2nd district, on Castellezgasse, where Jaques attended a Jewish School. He also attended a Jewish club. He mixed mainly with his cousins and Jewish friends. During the November Pogrom of 1938, the family were visited by the Nazis who were tipped off by a neighbour. His father’s radio was taken as was his father. He stayed in prison until the family produced a visa for Shanghai. Jaques witnessed women scrubbing the streets and saw the aftermath of the desecration of the shul. 


They were unable to emigrate to Shanghai because Russia refused to give transit visas. Jaques’ parents managed to get domestic permit visa to come stay with the Lumm family outside York, England, where his mother worked as the cook and his father worked odd jobs. The children were not included on the visa. Arrangements were made for the girls to come separately but Jaques was taken along with his parents and managed to gain entry to Britain at the end of August 1939. He was put in the Leeds Hostel and was the second youngest child there. He started school and was evacuated to Lincolnshire but only stayed there a short while. He was not in the hostel long but made friends with the children nearest his age. His worse moment was seeing policemen coming for his father to intern him whilst his father was visiting him. 


In the 1940s, Jaques went to live with his grandmother, who had also come over and then went to live with his parents when they moved to Leeds. His mother worked as a machinist and his father in munitions. They moved into a large house and took in lodgers, also refugees. His father later went into the wholesale fancy goods business and his firm was called Chromex. Jaques attended Cowper St Primary, Leeds Secondary Modern and then Leeds University to study dentistry. He joined B’nai Akivah and was an active member. He made friends there and met his wife, Hazel Rubinstein, at a B’nai Akivah camp in Ireland. His two sisters survived in Vienna - one lives in Canada and the other married a non-Jew and continues to live in Vienna. Jaques qualified as a dentist and married in 1955. He worked for a practice in Bradford where he became a partner. He then started his own practice in Leeds, at first in their small bedroom. They moved to Scott Hall Road and he moved his practice to a separate location. 

In 1998 he and his wife made Aliyah and lived in Netanya, Israel.  He is very grateful to Britain. He felt comfortable in Britain and felt himself an English Jew.  His only Continental identity was the memory of his grandmother’s food.  He felt very uncomfortable returning to Vienna for one day to show the family, but whilst there, realized he had nothing to fear since he was English.  This made a big difference and he felt a great weight had been lifted from him.   He is happy in Israel but also misses Leeds.  He feels Israeli out of Israel and sometimes quite British inside Israel.


Additional Comments: His father brought to England all his papers and the family therefore has a large archive of documents showing school reports from 1870s, birth certificates from 1850s etc. In an attempt to find English visas for Jacques’ sisters, his father wrote to the Queen and very quickly after that visas were granted. They were for the first week of Sept 1939 and could not be used.  Jacques only just managed to leave Europe after a Nazi officer spotted he was not included with his parents’ permits to England. He was let through only because the Nazi noticed that his father had been an officer in WWI.  In Siberia, his father made chess pieces out of stale bread.  Good description of the importance of Bnei Akiva and of the relief felt after his visit to Vienna.


Key words:

Vienna. Domestic Visas. Leeds Hostel. Making Aliya to Israel. Bnei Akiva.


Full Interview


You must remember where you come from, then you should be able to work out where you are going [...] You must remember, you mustn’t forget. If you respect people, they will respect you.

I had no wish to go back really. …I can understand now when they talking about second and third generation Holocaust survivors, how sometimes… some psychological help would be very helpful. …I still had this fear up till then about going to Austria and hearing the Austrian accent and the harsh- and the German being spoken, but it left me that day.

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