From darkness to greatness

From darkness to greatness

We look at survivors who went on to make incredible contributions to their countries and the world

Deborah is a freelance journalist

Hella Pick
Hella Pick

Hella Pick

Born in Vienna in 1929, Hella Pick was put on a Kindertransport by her mother after Germany annexed Austria in 1938. She went to school in the Lake District, and her mother joined her three months later. Studying at the London School of Economics, Pick decided to become a journalist, spending 35 years with The Guardian. One of the only female journalists in what was then a largely male-dominated career, Pick travelled around the world, covering everything from the Watergate scandal and Martin Luther King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, to the Cold War and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. She is now aged 90, has a CBE and has also written two books: Simon Wiesenthal: A Life in Search of Justice and Guilty Victim: Austria from the Holocaust to Haider.


Prof. Leslie Brent

Born Lothar Baruch in Koslin in 1924, Leslie Brent was placed in
a Jewish orphanage to avoid persecution in 1936, and later would be sent to Britain on one of the first Kindertransports in 1938. He went to school in Kent, and studied zoology at Birmingham University. Brent enjoyed a career as an eminent zoologist, in which he co-discovered acquired immunological tolerance with Peter Medawar and Rupert Billingham. He was also a valued member of the Association of Jewish Refugees, and often spoke at events and commemorations. Brent died last year aged 94.

Leslie Brent

Dame Stephanie Shirley

Arriving in Britain on the Kindertransport aged five in 1939, Dame Stephanie Shirley lived with foster parents in Sutton Coldfield, attended a convent school and later moved to Oswestry. Dame Shirley was determined to conquer the male-dominated industries of technology and mathematics, taking evening classes and learning how to build computers on her own. She founded her own software company with just £6 and, as a response to the sexism she had encountered, decided to hire predominantly women and even took on the name “Steve”. She built up an enormous business, the F1 Group, from which she made a £150 million fortune, and now concentrates on philanthropy, having given away more than £65m to charitable causes.


Roman Halter

Born in 1927 in Chodecz, Poland as the youngest of seven children,  Roman Halter was 12 when the Second World War broke out. From 1940 to 1945 he endured the trauma of the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Stutthof concentration camps and slave labour in a factory in Dresden. Escaping a death march, Halter was hidden by a German couple until the liberation, and was then brought to England in 1945 along with other young survivors known as “The Boys”. Halter became an esteemed architect and painter, best-known for his intricate stained glass windows, seen at Yad Vashem and a number of well-known synagogues.

Roman Halter, Shoah survivor

Frank Meisler

Born in Danzig (now Gdansk) in Poland in 1925, Frank Meisler was put on the Kindertransport in 1939. Three days after he left, his parents were arrested, held in the Warsaw Ghetto and murdered at Auschwitz. Meisler was raised by his grandmother in London, going to school in Harrow, serving in the Royal Air Force and studying architecture at the University of Manchester. Moving to Israel in 1960, he set up a workshop in Jaffa. He created a number of well-known public works, including a series of Kindertransport memorials in European cities, such as the bronze sculpture Kindertransport – The Arrival, in London’s Liverpool Street Station. He died in 2018 at the age of 92.


Frank Auerbach

Born in Berlin in 1931, Frank Auerbach was sent to Britain on the Kindertransport in 1939. His parents would later be murdered in the concentration camps. Auerbach went to a boarding school for Jewish refugee children, and later attended St Martin’s School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He has become known as one of the 20th century’s most notable painters, highly esteemed for his distinctive paintings of cityscapes and urban streets, and for his portraits of family and friends, all applied with his signature style of very thick layers of paint. His work has been exhibited worldwide.

Frank Auerbach
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