Tributes paid to pioneering journalist Hella Pick

Pick came to Britain on the Kindertransport after her family home in Austria was raided by the Gestapo


Hella Pick, an “indefatigable and pioneering journalist of great repute" (Photo: AJR / Dr Bea Lewkowicz)

Tributes are being paid to the pioneering journalist and Holocaust survivor Hella Pick CBE, who died on Thursday aged 94.

Pick was born in Vienna, Austria on 24 April 1929 and was put on the Kindertransport by her mother following Germany’s annexation of Austria and a visit by the Gestapo to her family’s home.

She arrived in Britain in March 1939 and attended school in the Lake District.

Becoming a British citizen in 1948, Pick studied at the London School of Economics before becoming a United Nations correspondent for the Guardian newspaper.

She thrived there, becoming a renowned reporter at a time when there were very few female journalists and women faced a lot of discrimination.

Michael Newman CEO of the Association of Jewish Refugees, of which Pick was a member, said after learning of her passing that she was an “indefatigable and pioneering journalist of great repute".

He said: “We feel fortunate to have worked with her on a number of occasions, including, most recently, to mark the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport. Hella was one of the Kinder who met His Majesty the King at our commemoration last November and participated at events in both Vienna and the UK.

"She was dedicated to raising awareness of the Holocaust and sharing her story. We feel privileged to have captured her testimony as part of our Refugee Voices archive.”

The Guardian News & Media Archive contains an oral history of Hella’s time on the paper in the 1960s and 1970s, and a written memoir of her life and career in journalism, Invisible Journalism, was published in 2021.

Journalist Jonathan Freedland wrote on social media that Pick was a “Guardian legend,” adding: “Last summer I sat down to record a long interview with her. She had to break off twice, to take calls from editors about two separate pieces she had in the works: she was 94 at the time.”

Hella later wrote for the New Statesman and became director of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, an independent think-tank in London and also authored the first authorised biography of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in 1996.

In December, she was the guest of honour at an event in Vienna to mark the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport.

Karen Pollock CBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust, said Pick was an “extraordinary” woman.

Pollock said: “At the age of 11, she escaped the horrors of life under Nazi occupation and came to Britain as a refugee on the Kindertransport. Determined to rebuild her life, Hella would go on to become a trailblazing journalist, reporting on presidential elections and the Kennedy assassination.

"Hella was a very special woman who inspired everyone she met. We will miss her greatly, and her legacy will certainly live on. Our thoughts go out to Hella’s family and friends. May her memory be a blessing.”

The Wiener Holocaust Library posted: “After arriving in the UK as a Kindertransportee, Hella Pick went on to become a formidable journalist, as well as an engaged and sensitive commentator. We were honoured to work with her earlier this year, drawing on her experiences as a child refugee. May her memory be a blessing”.

Marc Cave, the director of the National Holocaust Museum described Hella as “majestic, cultured and glamorous. An intrepid journalist, she marched with Martin Luther King; she dined on caviar with Tito as Yugoslavia fell; She toasted Lech Walesa with champagne.

“When I visited her at her apartment, there was always wonderful Old World civility, serious conversation and white wine on the terrace. I will remember her with admiration.”

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