The former chair of the Association of Jewish Refugees’ Kindertransport special interest group, Hermann Hirschberger, MBE, who has died aged 93, campaigned tirelessly in Britain for pension rights for those, like him, who came to Britain as child refugees.
Hermann was just 12 when he arrived in Britain with his brother Julius on the Kindertransport in March, 1939, having fled his native Karlsruhe in western Germny. He poignantly remembered his mother telling her sons to expect a happy reunion with them in England, but both parents died in Auschwitz.
He celebrated his barmitzvah while living in a London hostel and started working in a factory at the age of 15. He became an engineer and in 2007 he devised and monitored the creation and publication of a unique survey, Making New Lives in Britain. This database recorded the background, journey to Britain, reception and subsequent experiences and lives of some 1,450 European Kinder. It was a strongly representative sample of the almost 10,000 predominantly Jewish children of the Kindertransport, now published in the form of a statistical database available through the AJR. He was also a founder member of Belmont Synagogue, which he represented at the Board of Deputies.
His personal experiences led Hermann to campaign successfully for Kinder to benefit from a British state pension, although they had missed the opportunity to pay national insurance premiums.
Until poor health prevented him, Hermann regularly addressed school students about his experiences during the Holocaust, fleeing Karlsruhe via Kindertransport. He was regularly involved in Kindertransport events through the AJR.
Hermann Hirschberger: born July 11, 1926. Died January 1, 2020