A Leeds woman who fled Nazi Germany as a four-year-old girl has finally paid an emotional visit to her father’s grave more than 70 years after he died.
Two years before Leisel Carter was forced to flee Hildesheim, near Hanover, in 1939, her father David Meier, a self-employed butcher, had been brutally beaten by Nazis.
Three days later he was marched to a Gestapo hearing and put on a charge of affray – and soon afterwards, he was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he died.
Mrs Carter, who now lives in Moortown, was fostered by a Leeds family after escaping Germany as a four-year-old refugee, travelling through Norway and Sweden with an identification tag around her neck.
After the war, her mother – who had already fled to England and was reunited with her daughter when she arrived in the country – remarried and settled in London, and wouldn’t speak about her late husband.
Mrs Carter’s discovery that her father was a victim of the Holocaust was followed by a 60-year search for his grave.
The breakthrough came via a Jewish communities’ association in Lower Saxony, which led to an invitation from the mayor’s office in Hildesheim to visit her birthplace.
Accompanied by her daughters, Janet and Helen, and two granddaughters, Mrs Carter said: “The experience had been very emotional and we cried.”
Returning to the street where she was born and seeing the location of her father’s shop made her feel “uneasy, frightened and traumatised”.
She said: “I realised Hildesheim was not my home anymore and suddenly longed to be back in Leeds.”
Mrs Carter, who gives talks about her experiences, feels it is important to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.
She added: “We must encourage young people to accept each other as equals rather than make judgements based on race, religion or colour.”