Marion Gerver

Marion Gerver (nee Goldschmidt) was born in 1912 in Berlin, daughter of Robert Goldschmidt, a leading medical specialist who was decorated with Iron Cross in the First World War (she later threw it away) and suffered wounds that left him an invalid. The Goldschmidts were a very wealthy banking family who numbered Krupp among their clients. Marion describes the mansion in which the Essen branch of the family lived. Other family members lived in Brussels and London, and they greatly facilitated their emigration. She remembers her grandfather as a keen huntsman. The family was very assimilated, felt themselves to be German and observed few Jewish practices. She was unaware of antisemitism, repeating that in her circles no differentiation was made between Jews and non-Jews and that no-one foresaw what the Nazis would do. Her father maintained that Hitler would not last long and only left Germany in 1938 when he came under direct threat. 

Marion was educated at a private school where both staff and students were a mix of Jews and non-Jews. She had friends among both groups. She remembers rich cultural life of Berlin in the 1920s, was very keen on theatre and concerts. She left school at 16, went to finishing school in Lausanne, and then to London for a year to learn English. She remembers Hitler becoming Chancellor clearly, but was little affected by Nazism in the first years- she worked, went on holiday much as usual. She joined her elder brother in South Africa in 1936, travelling on the maiden voyage of a luxury liner to Port Elisabeth.She moved on to Johannesburg, found a job at the Stock Exchange. Her parents emigrated to London in 1938, where her uncle lived. He had made the arrangements for them, found them house in Finchley. Her younger brother rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel during the war (Pioneer Corps), then worked in Argentina. She married Frank Gerver, a Jewish businessman of Polish origin, but the marriage broke up after the birth of her son in 1947. She came to England for medical care for her son, who was born handicapped, lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb near her parents, later Finchley, and then Belsize Park. 

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@ Refugee Voices 2019