Francoise Robertson

Francoise Robertson (nee Herzberg)was born in Brussels in 1939 to an English mother and an Austrian father. Her mother, who was from Birmingham, had come to work in Brussels as a Librarian and had met and married and settled there. Her father moved from Austria to Holland and then to Belgium and worked for printing companies. Her father joined the Belgium Air Force as a pilot. He was twice captured and escaped. He escaped to England and joined the RAF. His mother survived the war in Belgium. On the German invasion of Belgium, Francoise mother took the baby and tramped the roads going from port to port looking for a ship. They lived rough. She caught a boat and arrived in the UK where she went to her family in Birmingham. 

She lived at first in Birmingham and her brother was born in 1944. When her father came out of the RAF they went to live in Croydon in c1946. She attended the Crowham Hurst Private Girls School. This gave her a sense of duty to the community. Her father came and went and the marriage was very insecure. It eventually broke up and her mother remarried. Her father also remarried and each of the new spouses had children to previous marriages so there was a big extended family. She had a liberal Jewish upbringing, although her mother came from a more orthodox family. Her brother became an architect and she took teachers training, although she would have preferred to continue her athletics or drama. These were frowned upon. She married a non Jew she met at college and was disinherited by a great uncle. She has married three times, all non Jewish and had 3 boys.


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@ Refugee Voices 2019