Dame Margaret Hodge poses with portrait of grandfather who fled the Nazis

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Dame Margaret Hodge poses with portrait of grandfather who fled the Nazis

Jewish Labour MP describes the 'amazing' moment she saw the painting of her relative Wilhelm Hollitscher, at an exhibition by London’s Ben Uri Gallery

Portrait of a Man: Wilhelm Hollitscher (Huyton Internment Camp, Liverpool. © Hugo Dachinger estate )
Portrait of a Man: Wilhelm Hollitscher (Huyton Internment Camp, Liverpool. © Hugo Dachinger estate )

Dame Margaret Hodge MP has described the “amazing” moment this week when she saw, for the first time, a portrait of her engineer grandfather who fled the Nazis.

Hodge, a former minister who was born in Cairo, saw the painting of her grandfather Wilhelm Hollitscher at a London exhibition and recalled how his wife never made it out of Austria.

The portrait was bought in 2016 by London’s Ben Uri Gallery, which profiles Jewish and immigrant artists, but which had no idea that the man in the portrait was Hodge’s grandfather, until one of her sisters saw it.

Wilhelm was the chief engineer of the Danube Steamboat Shipping Company and was interned in Liverpool as an “enemy alien” shortly after arriving in the UK, despite being in his 60s and with poor health.

“It is a horrible, horrible story,” said Hodge, speaking to The Guardian. “His wife was 55 and she thought they wouldn’t touch people who were really old.”

Hodge said she had read her grandfather’s diaries and learnt about a man who loved music and politics, but who was deeply unhappy in the UK. “He doesn’t speak the language so he feels very isolated and depressed,” she said.

Wilhem’s portrait is on display at an exhibition titled ‘Art-exit 1939 – A Very Different Europe,’ which is being staged by the Ben Uri Gallery at the 12 Star Gallery in Westminster.

Portrait of a Man: Wilhelm Hollitscher (Huyton Internment Camp, Liverpool. © Hugo Dachinger estate )
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: