Survivor who travelled to the UK by bomber


Born in 1927 to a traditional Jewish family in south-west Poland, Chaim "Harry" Olmer was one of 1,000 children who found refuge in Britain in 1946 - landing in a bomber, where he remembers sitting on the floor singing Hebrew songs with the other children.

Now after a career as a dentist, the 88-year-old grandfather of eight lives in Mill Hill, north-west London, with his wife Margaret.

His experience as a refugee and Holocaust survivor has made him passionate about educating young Britons about the war.

He said: "The memories are always there with me. I don't see why we shouldn't talk about them now. Some people still do not know what the Holocaust is - and it has been 70 years since then. They are pre-occupied with pop music and other things."

One of six siblings, only Mr Olmer and one brother and sister survived the Holocaust. Before the persecution started, his family intended to move to British Mandate Palestine - but never made it.

"I was around 12 when the war started," he recalled. "I went to a Jewish school, but when we left school all the non- Jewish children would throw stones at us and shout at us: 'Jew, go to Palestine'."

He survived six concentration camps - before he was finally liberated at Theresienstadt. "I don't know what I had but I was at death's door," he said, recalling being ill for weeks.

But he recovered. He then joined a group of child survivors who were travelling from Theresienstadt to Prague, where they were met by British planes that took them to Amsterdam, before finally landing in Carlisle.

He said: "I am pleased that I came here because of the opportunities I have had. Britain gave me a life and a home. They gave me a future - everything that I could have possibly had as a free man, I got.

"I had to work for it; I did not get it by doing nothing. I worked hard and I got whatever I wanted: I got a family, a home, friends and I belong to a community - that is what life is all about."

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