Gerti Billes, Fred Bridgham, Richard & Lilias Byrn, Douglas Cossar,
Annemarie Goodridge, Christa Hartwig & Ottokar Ullrich, Traude Heckel,
Ika Eisenbarth, Ann Heilmann, Verena Jung & Stephan Timphus, Dieter
& Lilo Kerl, Rosemarie Krockenberger, Iris Lamparter, Sibylle Metzger,
Anette Nübel, Adelheid Petruschke-Abramovici, Brigitte Reischle,
Brigitte Scott, Linda Speidel & Christopher Burley, Erich Speidel,
John & Irmgard Tailby, Sheila Wilkie.
the first evening we had the pleasure and privilege of listening to Stella
Rotenberg reading from her work, published and unpublished, and
answering questions. She started with the autobiographical piece Ungewissen
Ursprungs, then read some 32 of her poems – short, limpid flashes
of insight, moderated indignation, and occasional quiet laughter. Those
of us who never had to escape the Holocaust and live in exile, not succumbing
to bitterness, can only marvel.
Born in Vienna in
1916, her medical studies cut short by the Anschluß, she herself
managed to emigrate, reaching England in August 1939. Here she met and,
in 1940, married a medical fellow-emigré – a Polish-Viennese
fellow-‘friendly alien’ – and she followed his postings
around England with the British Army. After the war she learnt that virtually
all her relatives had perished in the Holocaust. She took British nationality
in 1946 and has been living in Leeds since 1948.
weather allowed a splendidly nostalgic outing to upper Wharfedale. Clouds
burst over Halifax, Headingley and Harrogate, but Douglas Cossar’s
walking-party enjoyed lovely sunshine from Burnsall to Grassington via lunch
at Hebden, and the coach-party was equally happy pub-lunching in Linton,
then visiting Buckden and Hubberholme.
The evening was ‘bunt’, featuring contributions from a re-constituted German Choir (membership-dates from 1956 to 2000) and readings from the reminiscences which form the basis of this booklet.
We were joined for the occasion by John & Lucy Arnison, Gordon Humphreys and Ernest Kirkby.
With one quarter of its members already involved in the Reunion (Gordon
Forster lecturing; John Buckler, contributor; Richard Byrn organising),
it seemed appropriate to invite the rest of the Ransome-Grant Literary
Club (founded 1889) and their spouses to join us.
The following were able to accept: James & Kathleen Ashcroft, John & Jayne Buckler, Peter & Margaret Churley, Michael & Margaret Coles, Gordon & Mary Forster, Alan & Gill Griggs, Donald & Pauline Hood, John & Elizabeth Morrish. Also present was Nancy Hill.
The morning’s first
lecture was given by Gordon Forster – a witty and
wide-ranging survey of developments in Yorkshire and Leeds over the past
50 years. (The print-version summary appears here.)
so to the weekend’s moving climax – the final session given
jointly by Robert Lee and David Heaton,
drawing on material in Part III of Robert Lee’s autobiography: The
Enemy my Friend. Robert Lee spoke about life as a POW in Freital (Dresden);
David Heaton about the ethical and practical implications of the US and
British bombing of Dresden in 1945.
Born in Bingley in
1915, Robert Lee now lives nearby in Harden. He trained at Bradford College
of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. A career teacher of Art,
all his posts (1947 to 1983) were held in and around West Yorkshire, where
he has also mounted most of his exhibitions – his principal medium
Of his relationship to his captors, he writes:
Since retirement he has collaborated with his nephew David Heaton in writing an account of his experiences, entitled The Enemy my Friend. As yet unpublished, copies of the manuscript are held at the Imperial War Museum (London) and The Second World War Experience Centre (Leeds).
An account of his time in Freital has appeared in Everyone’s War. The Journal of the Second World War Experience Centre, issue no.2 (July 2000) under the title ‘Death comes in a Day or Two’. This title is drawn from Llewellyn Powys, Apples be Ripe (inscription on a Dorset gravestone):