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Royal welcome for Holocaust survivor
A Jewish refugee who has lived in Elstree for 15 years marked the 70th anniversary of the rescue mission that allowed him to flee Austria from the Nazis.
The Prince of Wales joined a generation of Jewish people last week as they remembered the journey they made to Britain before the start of the Second World War.
Elstree resident Eric Newman, 83, was among more than 500 people who visited the Jewish Free School, in Kenton, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Kindertransport, in which Jewish children were evacuated to Britain from Nazi-occupied parts of Europe.
Recalling the ordeal of being torn from his family at just 14, Mr Newman said: “I was very lucky because my teacher was as socialist as they get, so he didn’t agree with the new regime and I was able to continue with school longer than others. My father, although he knew what was going to happen, had fought for his country in the previous war and did not prepare for what was coming.”
Mr Newman’s father was captured by the Nazi’s and taken to a German concentration camp in Dachau where he died. With his father imprisoned, Mr Newman was placed on a priority list for evacuation.
On January 11, 1939, Mr Newman was put on a train for a two-day journey to England. He said: “I was very excited to be getting on the train. There was an absolute change in atmosphere as we crossed the border. The Dutch brought us food and hot chocolate and the whole train cheered.”
Mr Newman was eventually taken to a farm in Nottingham where he worked for the reverend. Speaking about Monday’s event Mr Newman said: “It was very interesting and I was very impressed with Prince Charles. I have always felt very warmly towards the royal family. I have even had the pleasure of meeting the prince’s mother before she became Queen.”
The decision was taken by British politicians in 1938 to take in thousands of German children before the onset of war to save them from Hitler’s regime.
Speaking at the event, Prince Charles said: “The people who came to this gathering made me feel so incredibly proud to be British. What many of you said to me today is you owe so much to this country and the extraordinary generosity shown at that appalling time when you had to endure such unspeakable horrors.
“For those of us who have not had to endure that kind of horror, in many ways it is unimaginable. We shall never forget you and what you have contributed to this country.”