Still in love: Jewish Care couple celebrate 70th anniversary

Hermi and Shirley Rothman say the secret to a happy marriage is 'the knowledge that two people love each other and want to spend all their lives together'


A Kindertransport boy and his loving wife have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Hermi and Shirley Rothman, who live in Jewish Care accommodation, were visited on the day by granddaughter Yael at the Selig Court retirement living apartments in Golders Green to play them some of their favourite songs. They also took numerous video calls from well-wishers.

Mr Rothman arrived in England as a Kindertransport refugee in 1939 and was placed at Gwrych Castle in North Wales, which made headlines this year when ITV’s I’m A Celebrity was filmed at the location.

The couple share a love of music and dancing. Hermi, 96, and Shirley, 88, used to respectively play the violin and piano and they enjoyed visits to the opera, theatre and art galleries.

His secret to a happy marriage? “The knowledge that two people love each other and want to spend all their lives together.”

As soon as he was old enough, Mr Rothman joined the British Army out of gratitude to the country that had taken him in.

As a German speaker, he was posted to PoW camps in 1945 to interrogate high ranking Nazis. When papers were discovered sewn into the shoulders of a jacket belonging to Heinz Lorenz, who had served as Joseph Goebbels’ press secretary, Mr Rothman was one of a team of five who translated the documents, which turned out to be an original of Adolf Hitler’s will, with Goebbels’ addendum.

Later on, Mr Rothman interrogated Hermann Karnau, who was one of Hitler’s bodyguards.

He met Shirley on New Year’s Eve in 1948. With no family in the UK, his bride-to-be’s mother took him under her wing. Soon after their marriage, they visited Israel to meet his parents and younger brother who he had not seen since 1939. They had survived concentration camps.

The couple have two children, six grandchildren five great-grandchildren.

Mr Rothman was director of KKL Executor and Trustee Company for most of his career. His wife worked as an antiques dealer.

The Rothmans were communally active within Ilford Synagogue and went on to become founding members of Clayhall Synagogue, to which they remained closely involved. They also delivered Jewish Care meals-on-wheels in Essex for many years.

“They always felt that the community should be there to support one another,” their daughter Janice said.

“My mother taught me lessons about justice and equality that have stayed with me my entire life. My father is a lifelong socialist, caring about those who need our support in society. He believes that one of the lessons from the Holocaust is how we should carry ourselves with dignity, never taking justice into our own hands in a vengeful way but encouraging democracy, fairness and equality for all.”

Their love of the arts had also been passed down through the generations.

The Rothmans moved into Selig Court last year, just as lockdown started.

“It’s a wonderful place and though the pandemic has made life difficult, being there has been a lifesaver for them,” their daughter said. “There are hot meals readily available and people who care on hand at all times.

“To know that they’re well looked after is wonderful.

“You never think you’ll be that old and it’s great that Jewish Care is there for them today.”



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