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Jewish Boy's Escape from Austria to Belgium

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posted on 2024-06-05, 20:09 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The contributor shared that her father, Alexander Klein, was born into a family with five children in Vienna, Austria, in 1924. The contributor noted that her paternal grandparents had fled Lithuania and Poland. The family stayed in Vienna until Kristallnacht, at which time they decided to leave Austria separately.

The contributor explained that Alexander's parents had him board a train to Cologne, Germany, and then walk to Belgium. The contributor highlighted that Alexander was interrogated by SS officers at the border, and he was directed back to Germany. Alexander then walked 45 miles to Verviers, Belgium, which was later written about in a newspaper. The contributor shared that Alexander initially lived in a Belgian orphanage and was relocated in a Kindertransport rescue effort before eventually moving in with family in Manchester in May 1939.

The contributor noted that one of Alexander's sisters escaped using the passport of a family friend's daughter who had died. Alexander's parents got onto different boats in Belgium; Alexander's father ended up in France, where he remained for the rest of the war, and his mother and brothers found their way to Manchester. The contributor stated that Alexander signed up for the Royal Air Force at age 18 and became a Morse code operator. While he was posted in France, Alexander found his father while out walking, and he served in the Royal Air Force until 1947.

The contributor noted that Alexander's older brother, Simpson, moved to Canada and started a clothing business. Alexander set up a textiles business in Scotland, while one of his sisters settled in London. Alexander married Joan McEnttagart, a Roman Catholic who later converted to Judaism in London.

History

Item list and details

1. Envelope stamped by German government 2. German stamps 3. Royal Air Force medals 4. SS dagger 5. Schoolwork from Vienna 6. Photos of the Klein family 7. Photos from Alexander Klein's military service 8. Alexander Klein's service documents 9. Photos of Dachau 10. Military wireless operator patch 11. News article about Alexander Klein's escape from Germany 12. A photograph of my father Alexander Klein meeting his father Jacob Klein in France, for the first time in 7 years, since they fled Vienna in 1938

Person the story/items relate to

Alexander Klein

Person who shared the story/items

Michelle Humphreys

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Alexander Klein was the contributor's father.

Type of submission

Shared at the Wiener Holocaust Library, London on 10 November 2023.

Record ID

105339 | WIE006