How our archives were a path into Rita’s past…

Rita Rosenbaum had always wondered how her brother had reached this country. It was 1939 and she was living in a tiny, run-down shelter with her parents having escaped from Nazi Germany. The family was getting by every week with a small stipend from CBF, now World Jewish Relief. But when her brother Martin mysteriously and joyously arrived on their doorstep this was a time for great celebration but no questions.

The kind of questions that you’d ask now were just not asked back then – how did it happen? How did you get out? Who supported you? It was not the kind of society where children were encouraged to find out what was going on. So it was not until Rita received her papers recently from World Jewish Relief that she knew exactly how her brother had gone out.

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It turned out that Martin had been guaranteed by Otto Schiff’s sister to escape from Essen to the Hook of Holland and then onto a boat to the UK. Rita and her parents, Adolf and Maria, had been both lucky and middle class enough to buy proper papers to get out just before the war started. But her brother had to join later.

After initially settling in Stamford Hill, Rita and her family was interred during the war in the Isle of Wight, a place that Rita recalls fondly. After that, Rita moved back to London, where she lived happily in Golders Green, where she continues to volunteer at Jewish Care to this day.

Rita said: “I was delighted to receive these papers as they gave me a family insight that I’d simply have had no other way of finding out. It brought me closer to my brother, now deceased. Thanks to World Jewish Relief not just for supporting my family back then, but for returning my papers to me so I could catch a glimpse into mine and my family’s history”.  

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Do we hold your family records in our archives?  We have over 35000 case files of Jews who came to the UK from Nazi Europe. Inquire about your family history here. 

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