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SHARING PERSONAL HISTORIES and compelling narratives

Read these personal histones and learn what happened to so many different individuals and how their lives have been shaped by their journey and experience.

Harry Bibring BEM, 1925-2019

Harry Bibring was born in Vienna to Michael and Esther Bibring who were middle class and owned a menswear shop – they lived above the shop and were lucky enough to have a telephone and radio. Harry had a sister called Gertie. He went ice skating twice a week and loved speed skating. His parents closed the shop in July or August for two weeks and went on holiday.
Harry Bibring

When Harry was 10 years old his parents were looking at grammar schools for his secondary education. Around this time Hitler wanted to annex Austria to Germany. The Jews in German from 1932 were having problems – from 29th April no Jews were allowed in school or

to go to public places. The parks were closed to Jews, the swimming pools, the cinemas and Jewish shops were boycotted. His parents had no income. At Harry’s school in his class of 30 children, eleven were Jewish. Harry was turned away from the ice rink – he couldn’t understand why and went home to ask his parents.

Harry remembers Kristallnacht on 7th November 1938 when his parents flat were raided – they were taken to a Nazi headquarters in under house arrest for ten days with small rations. They were with other families. His parents decided to pawn some items to raise enough funds for a ticket out of Austria. The “Inter Aid Committee” took 13 to 15 year olds to the UK. Harry and Gertie were part of the group that travelled on 13th March 1939 by train with 600 children from Vienna to Liverpool Street Station in London.

After his 14th birthday, Harry returned to London. He started working for Mr Landsman in one of his shops as an errand boy. However, when he realised that there were no prospects for learning a profession, he procured an engineering apprenticeship.

In May 1945 Harry met his wife-to-be, Muriel and they married two years later. Harry later qualified as a chartered engineer with management qualifications. He went on to work for 20 years as a manufacturing engineer and then became a lecturer at a college. He had one son, Michael and two grandchildren, Lee and Nikki and two great-grandchildren, Rafi and Eli.

Harry devoted much of his life to sharing his story in the hope that others might learn from it, reaching tens of thousands of young people through the Trust’s Outreach programme.

Harry and Gertie wanted to stay together. They were offered accommodation with a family in Willesden where there was one bedroom. Gertie stayed there and Harry was placed in a family in Walthamstow – which is a long way from Willesden. He learnt English quickly and eventually moved to Stoke Newington to stay with an aunt.

In Sept 1939 when WW2 attacks started on London Harry was evacuated to Peterborough and Gertie was evacuated to Llandudno in Wales.

After his 14th birthday, Harry returned to London. He started working for Mr Landsman in one of his shops as an errand boy. However, when he realised that there were no prospects for learning a profession, he procured an engineering apprenticeship.

In May 1945 Harry met his wife-to-be, Muriel and they married two years later. Harry later qualified as a chartered engineer with management qualifications. He went on to work for 20 years as a manufacturing engineer and then became a lecturer at a college. He had one son, Michael and two grandchildren, Lee and Nikki and two great-grandchildren, Rafi and Eli.

Harry devoted much of his life to sharing his story in the hope that others might learn from it, reaching tens of thousands of young people. He spoke to educational groups, shared his testimony and strived to impact the lives of all those who heard him speak in the hope of encouraging equality and decreasing the prejudice and discrimination that were at the root of The Holocaust.

“If you hear one person discriminate against another just because he is a different colour or follows a different religion, you have to stand up and say, “stop!” If you don’t, it can lead to what became the Holocaust.”

In 2019, Harry Bibring passed away aged 93.