Brought to UK by Rabbi Schonfeld: postwar
He managed everything. He managed absolutely everything that he undertook to do. He’s- He was just like- really like something- a maverick! A maverick. You know when he came he invented this uniform for himself. Now, what an idea is that? That alone, you have to- I don’t know a thing but I don’t know, a year, and you wouldn’t come up by an idea like this. But he did.
He invented a uniform that looked like an English officer. Looked like it. It wasn’t, of course, but- Why did he do that? Because he came to the conclusion- He thought, and thought, and thought about it and he decided that if he goes dressed in civilian clothes he is, well… as a rabbi… he may not survive to begin with. And if he does, nobody would even listen to him. But the Poles love a uniform. The Poles love the military, uniform…yeah. So, he decided he’s going to have a uniform. And he invented this magnificent uniform. And his cap had Jewish insignias on it but nobody would look. Nobody knew. Nobody realised. And when he put that on, nobody would say, “No.” Nobody could or did say, “No” when he entered. It was like he was- blond with a blond little beard. Not a big one. But the most magnificent blue eyes you ever saw, that when he looked at you, you thought the whole world is in you. Cause the way he looked at a person. And so, when me came, wherever he came, like Jesus Christ. And he managed to do all what he did! And he hired this Swedish boat, and he transported us on this boat and was going with us for seven days in March. It wasn’t very nice. A lot of children they were very ill. The sea was not very- very calm. And he was marvellous. He was teaching these children to sing. Because he couldn’t communicate- They couldn’t communicate with him. I was doing interpreting for him, because I spoke German… and understood a little bit of English. Nothing to, to, to talk about or to converse in. And I- And he spoke some German and Yiddish and so I managed to translate, to interpret between the children and him. So I was around him all the time practically. And was I happy to be around him all the time.
In March 1946 we were sailing. And he was doing everything to have the children’s interest. I mean, you know, you had all sorts of children. You had children that were frightened. You had children who never wanted to speak. You had children- We had one boy who was a bandit. He was truly… dangerous. He had a knife, and if you touched him, you could instantly, cause he was in the woods… that’s how he saved himself. And he was about ten years old, eleven. He was dangerous. Absolutely dangerous. That- That sort of assortment he had! So he decided that he’s going to… to put a blackboard of some sort, right? - and teach the children to sing. Now. What was he teaching us? Not religious songs. Not Hebrew songs. Not Yiddish songs, but English songs. Songs- I mean, for instance…’Rule Britannia’. He would teach us Rule Britannia and explain what it is- He would teach us ‘Daisy, Daisy’ – the little songs like this. He would teach us a song about Abraham who had a thousand wives, he would say, oh, and sing it! He sang it! And that was the reason why he missed his early breakfast train. He kissed them all goodbye. Things like this he taught these children. You would never in a million years know this was a rabbi. And yet an ultra-Orthodox one. Because it was the means to the end. He was going to save the children no matter how and no matter what. He was eating with us. I won’t say- maybe he didn’t eat the meat, I don’t know. But what did we have on a boat in early 1946, a tiny Swedish boat? They wouldn’t have had kosher food, I can’t imagine. So, he had to eat. And he was sitting with us, eating with us. Singing with us. Teaching us all sorts of wonderful things. And so for me Doctor Schonfeld: God.