Museum stalls Quaker history

A man whose family was saved from the Holocaust by the Quaker movement has accused Yad Vashem of failing to record the historical rescue.

Peter Kurer, 79, from Manchester, was brought to England in 1938 from Vienna by Quakers in a mass rescue operation of Jews from Germany and Austria. Their father, Jacob, a dentist, came to Britain in 1936 seeking contacts to help his family and met Horatio and Mary Goodwin, a Quaker couple in Whalley Range, south Manchester.

With their help, he was able to set up a dental practice and two boys were sent to a Quaker boarding school, supported by benefactors. The remaining Kurer family members received guarantees from members of the Manchester Meeting.

Mr Kurer says Quakers enabled around 7,000 Jews to enter the UK. It is thought that the 20,000 strong Quaker movement paid £350,000 in Home Office costs as a guarantee to the British government to accept the refugees, the equivalent of £17.5m at today's rates. Quakers brought in a further 6,000 Jews as domestic workers.

After eight years research, Mr Kurer submitted the first historical paper on the subject to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem last year, written by British historian Dr Jennifer Taylor.

But Yad Vashem has still not decided whether to include the paper in its archives. Its supporting historians have warned that without archiving, the story will die with the survivors.

Mr Kurer, president of Manchester's Morris Feinman Home, suspected the delay was because the Quakers support the Palestinian cause. "The Quakers saved 23,000 Jews, and a thousand things besides. The Quakers currently support the Palestinians but that has nothing to do with this history."

    Last updated: 10:05am, December 3 2010