Holocaust survivor Heinz Skyte dies at 99

Holocaust survivor Heinz Skyte dies at 99

Leeds United fan who fled Nazi Germany aged 19 joined his brother Frank in the city where he worked in a clothing factory

Heinz Skyte (Credit: John Steel Photography)
Heinz Skyte (Credit: John Steel Photography)

Holocaust survivor Heinz Skyte, who witnessed the horrors of the Kristallnacht pogrom, has died at 99.

Skyte fled Nazi Germany at 19 after obtaining a visa, joining his brother Frank in Leeds in 1939, where he worked in a clothing factory.

His parents made a miraculous escape just four days before the Second World War broke out, and the family was reunited in Leeds.

But in 1940, Skyte and his family were classed as enemy aliens and detained in internment camps on the Isle of Man and in Canada until 1942.

Later, Skyte married a Kindertransport refugee Thea and the pair were granted British citizenship in 1947.

Skyte, who was made an MBE in 1976 for his dedication to community work,  joined the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board in 1951, which offers care and community support services in North Leeds and where he remained until 1985.

Heinz Skyte, his father Soloman and elder brother Frank

Skyte’s story is one of 16 testimonies told in an exhibition at Huddersfield University’s Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre.

He was a founding member of the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association, a group of  Holocaust survivors and refugees based in Leeds and the charity behind the centre.

Emma King, director of the centre, said Skyte will be “badly missed by all those who knew him,” describing him as a “dear friend with a keen sense of humour.”

King paid tribute to Skyte for speaking out “tirelessly about the dangers of political extremism, scapegoating and persecution, visiting schools and community groups to share his story.”

“In latter years Heinz as our oldest member was the only person in our community with clear memories of Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s which made his testimony all the more valuable for young people,” she said.

A devoted Leeds United fan, he was honoured by the club’s chairman Andrea Radrizzani in a pitch-side ceremony last month and received a personalised shirt and scarf.

Speaking to BBC News after the ceremony, Skyte recounted his arrival to Leeds over 80 years ago. “We dropped my case there and went straight to Elland Road,” he said.

“I thought I knew English but I didn’t understand a word because of course they spoke with a Yorkshire accent, much more so than today.”

A spokesperson for Leeds United paid tribute to Skyte on Friday.

“It is with deep sadness that Leeds United have today learnt of the passing of lifelong Leeds United supporter and Holocaust survivor Heinz Skyte, at the age of 99,” read a statement on the club’s website.

Leeds United fan Heinz Skyte who fled Nazis

In December we filmed with Heinz, who fled the Nazis in 1939 and became a lifelong Leeds United fan after arriving in the UK. Today it has been announced that he has passed away aged 99.Read more: https://bbc.in/2QnXGV8

פורסם על ידי ‏‎BBC Yorkshire‎‏ ב- יום שישי, 3 בינואר 2020

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