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Queen’s hatmaker who survived Holocaust killed in London road accident

    Herta Groves (Photo: screenshot USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
    Herta Groves (Photo: screenshot USC Shoah Foundation Institute)

    A Holocaust survivor who made hats for the Queen has been killed by a lorry in central London.

    Herta “Georgette” Groves, 96 , was pronounced dead at the scene after a lorry ran her over outside Wigmore Hall last week.

    Ms Groves was born in Vienna to middle-class Jewish parents. During her teenage years she helped other Jewish women obtain visas to escape Nazi-occupied Austria.

    She fled to the UK aged 19, leaving her family behind. Her father, Wilhelm, died from pneumonia after being forced at gunpoint to shovel snow. Her mother, Amelia, and sister, Alice, died in a concentration camp in 1942.

    In the UK, Ms Groves launched the London Hat Company and became well-known for making high-fashion headwear. She counted the Royal milliner as one of her clients.

    Ms Groves, who lived in St John’s Wood and was married twice, recorded her war experiences for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation in 1997. She said: “I didn’t speak about the Holocaust to anyone, when I gave speeches it was mostly about hats. The British gave us a chance to re-start our lives. We could rebuild everything here.

    “The message is the Holocaust can’t be forgotten — it needs to be remembered for future generations.”

    Ms Groves died from serious injuries after being hit by an HGV on April 27. The lorry driver was not arrested. A police spokesman said: “Police were called at 2.20pm to reports of a collision between a lorry and a pedestrian at Wigmore Street at the junction of Wellbeck Street.

    “Emergency services attended the scene and found the pensioner with serious injuries. She was pronounced dead at the scene just before 3.30pm.”

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