Wartime refugee finally becomes British citizen at 106

By Sandy Rashty, November 1, 2012
Johanna Waller

Johanna Waller

A 106-year-old from Swiss Cottage has become the oldest person to receive British citizenship.

Originally from Germany, Johanna Waller and her younger sister fled the Nazis in 1939.

She did not receive immigration documents when entering the country and, over the years, came to assume that she would never receive citizenship.

When local MP Glenda Jackson found out, she lobbied for the naturalisation process to be speeded up and Ms Waller’s belated citizenship was celebrated at a Camden Town Hall ceremony last Friday afternoon.

With the National Anthem playing in the background, she swore an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

Ms Waller — who worked as a seamstress and in a Finchley Road bakery —- said she was “proud to finally become a citizen of the country I’ve lived in for more than 70 years. I’ve lived and worked in Camden ever since I came to England as a refugee.

“I was trying to have the ceremony before my 106th birthday in August so that I could get a telegram from the Queen. I didn’t make it, but am looking forward to getting one next year when I’m 107.”

Camden Mayor Councillor Heather Johnson said: “It’s an honour and a privilege to have been part of this ceremony for someone of Ms Waller’s age.

“She has obviously had a very interesting life, seen amazing things and is now starting a whole new chapter.”

Ms Waller has not been to shul for years but is hoping to mark her new status with a visit to St John’s Wood Synagogue.

Last updated: 1:56pm, November 1 2012