Bond girl honoured by Berlin museum

By Rosa Doherty, December 12, 2013
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Nikki van der Zyl

Nikki van der Zyl

A former Bond girl, who fled to Britain from the Nazis as a child, has been honoured by a German museum with an exhibition on her life.

Night Flight To Berlin, at the Pankow Museum in Berlin, tells the story of actress Nikki van der Zyl and her family, who left their home in the city in 1939.

She said: “The exhibition shows how we had to uproot ourselves during the Nazi era and how we succeeded in contributing to the Jewish community in the UK.”

The display describes how Ms van der Zyl’s father, the renowned Rabbi Dr Werner van der Zyl “battled to establish the Leo Baeck College [in London] which became his lasting legacy to Reform Judaism”.

It also highlights her time in showbusiness, when she voiced dialogue for several Bond girls, including Ursula Andress in Dr No, and her subsequent career as a lawyer.

“There is a section for the Bond work I did, and cabinets with my barrister gown and wig.”

The museum decided to dedicate an exhibition to the van der Zyls after being informed of their escape from Berlin, and their life in Britain, by German documentary-maker Michael Strauven, who researched the family.

The opening in Berlin was attended by the mayor of Pankow, Matthias Köhne, and Rabbi Maurice Michaels from Alyth, North Western Reform Synagogue, where Ms van der Zyl is a congregant.

She said: “It is good to know that my family history is being acknowledged. It will make young people realise vividly how hard it was for German Jewish refugees having to leave their country.” The exhibition will run until April.

Last updated: 3:12pm, December 13 2013