Marga Brodie

Marga Brodie (nee Hirschberg) was born in the small village of Wettesingen in Hessen, Germany  on 12 July 1924. Her father was from Zwesten in Hessen and her mother from Eldagsen. Her paternal grandfather had been a butcher but she never knew him or her paternal grandmother. Her father was one of 7 siblings and none survived the war, although one or two children survived. Her father went to a Yeshiva and was in the army in the WW1. He became a textile salesman and married after the war. Her maternal grandfather was a cattle dealer and owned a large house and farm. She loved staying there in the holidays with her cousins and playing in the countryside. Marga’s family moved to Worburg when she was 5 and her brother Erich was born there. They lived in the downstairs apartment of a house with a non-Jewish family upstairs. They were almost self-sufficient with her mother preserving and pickling everything. Her mother made their clothes and embroidered. 

Marga attended the Jewish primary school, which served the community of about 50 Jewish families. This had one class with children of different ages and the Rabbi taught them. She then attended the non Jewish High School and was taught by nuns, until they were forbidden to continue there under Hitler. She then had to attend the local elementary school, where they were taunted by the kids each morning. Friendly neighbours refused to talk to them anymore. Marga’s father lost his customers and became a Chazzan and Shochet. They used to enjoy attending operas, the cinema and Marga attended Habonim. 

Her father was taken to Buchenwald on Kristallnacht and Marga’s mother’s cut glass collection was smashed to pieces. It was at this point that the family decided to try to get the children out. A relation in England acted as guarantor for Marga but could not do so for her brother since he had already guaranteed many relations. Marga came on a Kindertransport in early 1939 and was picked up by a relation in London and put on a train to Stoke-on-Trent. She stayed with that relation for a couple of months and then went to the Myers family in Trentham Gardens for 2 years. They treated her like a daughter. She learnt English at the cinema. She tried to get her brother and parents out and found someone to act as guarantor but the war intervened. They all died/ were killed in Riga. 

Marga liked Stoke but after 2 years came to a hostel in Manchester, to Kershaw House in Alexandra Park. She made friends there and received 2/6d each week from the Refugee Committee. After a few months she got a job as a domestic for a Dr Green in Broom Lane. She had to work very hard there and caught rheumatic fever. She tried to go back to work too quickly before properly recuperating and suffers heart trouble as a result. She left the family and was going to take a room in Wellington St but Mrs Fisher, whom she knew, insisted she come to stay with her. She was divorced with 2 children and she already had 1-2 lodgers with her in a 3 bedroomed house. Marga shared her room. Gabriel Brodie was one of the lodgers and Marga went on to marry him in 1945. Leading up to marriage she worked at Ward and Goldstone in Pendleton and became an inspector of aircraft wiring for Lancaster Bombers. She also attended Torah Veavodah in Crumpsall Shul on Shabbos afternoons. 

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