Presidential apology at 100

August 14, 2014

A Vienna-born resident of Jewish Care's Clore Manor home in Hendon has received a letter on his 100th birthday from Austrian President Dr Heinz Fischer expressing regret "about your suffering in your birthplace".

The letter was presented to Herman Katz by Austrian embassy representative Trude Desmond at a party at Clore Manor, which Mr Katz moved to last year from his own home Edgware. The oldest of six children, he fled to England via Switzerland after Austria was annexed into Nazi Germany in 1938.

Orginally settling in Leeds, he worked for Burton Tailoring before moving to London, where he sold linens to top hotels. He then started his own business selling industrial cloth for work garments.

In his birthday greetings to Mr Katz, Dr Fischer wrote: "During your long life you had to endure a very rough century and as the President of the Federal Republic of Austria, I am very saddened about your suffering in your birthplace Vienna.

"Hence I want to thank you especially for taking the step in 1996 to again become an Austrian citizen despite the injustice done to you.

"With the generousness of your heart, you set a sign of hope for a better and more tolerant future. We must not ever stop working towards an open society which honours human rights."

Mr Katz said he was "proud" to receive the letter and the acknowledgement of his suffering in his homeland.

Last updated: 12:50pm, August 18 2014