Ruth Taylor

Ruth Taylor was born in March 1923 in Berlin to parents Julius Berendt, merchant, and Margarete Berendt née Bing (from Cologne). Her mother was the daughter of the famous architect (Geheimer Baurat) Karl Bing, who designed the Cologne Jewish cemetery among many other important buildings. Ruth remembers visiting Cologne especially around Christmas and coming to see the famous Cologne cathedral. She describes her parents as “not young” anymore when they married in 1922 caused by her father’s imprisonment in Siberia during WWI. Ruth was the oldest child with a brother born 2.5 years later and she remembers a happy childhood in Berlin Tempelhof a predominantly non-Jewish neighbourhood. Her parents weren’t religious Jews although her father sometimes took her to synagogue. She remembers her girl-friend in school who stopped talking to her after the rise of the Nazis and how devastated that made her feel and she can still see the Hitler Youth marching down Paradestraße, where her family home stood. Her brother, Peter, came first on a Kindertransport to England and spent some time in Rowden Hall, Kent until he was evacuated and a school caretaker and his wife (somewhere near where Ruth lives today, West Midlands) took him in. They were very good to him and he showed them lifelong gratitude by supporting them in old age.

 

Ruth came on a Kindertransport in April 1939 and says that she was sure her parents would follow soon, therefore she wasn’t too scared but remembers the younger children crying heartbreakingly on the boat ride across the channel.  She worked for a family as a maid which she doesn’t describe as a good experience. At the age of 18 she was finally able to start training as a nurse at Walsall General hospital. She got married soon after and although she had a son from this relationship she describes it as a mistake as she and her husband had incompatible concepts of marriage. Her son (born 1946) drowned tragically in Haifa in 1970 and she went regularly to visit his grave. A later relationship brought her happiness and she also found and outlet for her creative talent in jewellery making and painting. The latter she most likely inherited from her parents who painted for leisure and she even recovered one of her mother’s paintings, which was presumably left with a friend or neighbour in Berlin. Until her brother died in 2006 they had a close relationship and visited their parents mass grave in Riga together. He also supported her financially. 


Ruth says the memories of her parents haven’t left her since she said good-bye to them so many years ago. Her parents last letters via the Red Cross speak of a very deep and loving relationship whose abrupt and violent ending traumatised Ruth for life. She lives with her dog Benji in Rugeley and still enjoys painting and jewellery making and meeting friends.

 

Key words:

Berlin. Cologne. Karl Bing- Jewish Cemetery Cologne. Kindertransport. Rowden Hall.

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