Special fan honoured by Leeds United on 100th birthday

As a refugee from Nazism 80 years ago, Heinz Skyte's first trip was to Elland Road. Now the club has recognised his long-time support in its own centenary year


Arriving in Leeds 80 years ago as a refugee from Nazi Germany, Heinz Skyte immediately took a tram to Elland Road to watch Leeds play out a 1-1 draw with Everton in the company of his brother Frank.

At the weekend, Mr Skyte watched another drawn Leeds game (3-3 against Cardiff) as a special guest of the club in advance of his 100th birthday, which falls in United’s centenary season.

Mr Skyte and his son Peter were welcomed by club chairman Andrea Radrizanni and his wife Nedine, who presented the birthday boy with a personalised shirt.

Fleeing his home in a small town near Nuremberg after the events of Kristallnacht, Mr Skyte joined his brother in Leeds, who found him a job as a trainee presser in the clothing factory where he worked.

Their parents eventually managed to secure visas to travel to England days before the war.

“Sadly there was a great deal of antisemitism at the time and that still exists today,” Mr Skyte reflected. “After war broke out, Germans living in England were all regarded with suspicion and my family was arrested and interned, despite the fact we were more anti-Nazi than most people.”

The brothers were sent to an internment camp on the Isle of Man before being moved on to Canada, where they stayed until 1942.

On his return, Mr Skyte volunteered for war work. He married a fellow Jewish refugee, Thea, and the couple were granted British citizenship in 1947.

He joined Leeds Jewish Welfare Board in 1951, going on to become chief executive, and was awarded an MBE for his community work in 1976.

Mr Skyte is one of 16 Holocaust survivors and refugees whose stories feature in an interactive exhibition at the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre in Huddersfield.

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