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Max Abraham

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
1 September 1939
Interview number:


Dr Bea Lewkowicz

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Max Abraham, born in Berlin in 1913, was a technical teacher in Berlin's Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades (ORT); ORT is a global Jewish organisation promoting education and training in communities worldwide. In 1939 Max came to England with his wife Hanni, and was initially interned at Kitchener Camp in Sandwich. He left the camp in December 1939 and later worked as a teacher at the ORT school in Leeds. Max's parents, Frieda and Leopold, were deported to Theresienstadt in 1943 and never returned. A tracing enquiry revealed that they were deported to Auschwitz in 1944, where they were probably murdered.


Full Interview


My father was a plumber and he worked at Siemens in Berlin in Jungfernheide, as a Rohrleger, or as a plumber as they say here. And he earned his money, and he worked there for 25 years. And they released him as a Jew. They chucked him out really, you know, and, more or less a year later, I left. So I really only had very, very few communications. We wrote letters, but only from the Red Cross really. We could only write… In the beginning it was all right. We had some letters; we could, during the war. But, later on, we could only write Red Cross letters. And I got quite a lot of letters, as it happens, from my parents because they sent letters to Christian people from Theresienstadt to them. And one of my boys [his I call them boys, you know - they are grandparents now, mostly - they collected them, and I got them here. I gave them out to the Wiener Library, and they made copies of it. I didn’t read them all. I read some of them, but not all of them. That is roughly the background. And then, unfortunately, in 1943 was the last I heard. They vanished, you know; they had been killed.

Well we went to Hertz all the time obviously. You know Hertz, the cabaret, the Jewish cabaret. Hertz, he had a cabaret in Finchley Road, by refugees, mostly. And that was the only entertainment we had really during the war. It was in Finchley Road. He was Viennese; he was a producer, or owner or God knows what. And he made a very good job there, yes. It was always quite interesting and quite lively and quite nice and pleasant, you know. It was the only entertainment we really had. But we went to Dorice quite a lot, the coffee shop, and the Cosmo, more the Dorice than the Cosmo.

The ORT school, in principle, was there just to teach the children a trade so that they’re able earn some money when they go to a foreign country. We arrived at 2am. Liverpool Street station was absolutely terrible. It looked .. but quite honestly everything was of no importance; the importance was really being out of Germany. We went to Rowton House which was a ‘Obdachlosen Asyl’, a down & out house sort of thing. We stayed 1 night & had 3 coaches waiting outside the next morning. & all the people from the East End at that time - there must have been God knows how many women there who gave us grapes, cigarettes, chocolate, apples. It was unbelievable. Then we went to the Kitchener camp. There we had really a lovely time, as such. The weather was beautiful; we had something to eat, & I looked after my children, or my pupils. I arranged on a Shabbat & kept them going. It was like a holiday camp. I worked in the carpentry department & enjoyed it thoroughly. On Saturdays we could go out all afternoon, to Sandwich. I expect the boys had girlfriends there. It was very nice. There were about 3000 people there. It was quite a camp. Most of the boys I’m still in contact with. We meet in Brent Cross every Thursday. We meet, my boys.

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