New My Story project capturing wartime journeys made by Jewish refugees to Leeds

Date:23rd October 2018.'Picture James Hardisty.'Launch of Holocaust survivors book project at the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Community Centre, Stonegate Road, Leeds. Pictured Two Holocaust survivors from Leeds, Heinz Skyte, aged 98, and Liesel Carter, aged 83.
Date:23rd October 2018.'Picture James Hardisty.'Launch of Holocaust survivors book project at the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Community Centre, Stonegate Road, Leeds. Pictured Two Holocaust survivors from Leeds, Heinz Skyte, aged 98, and Liesel Carter, aged 83.
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They escaped Nazi Germany at an unimaginable time when Jewish people were being persecuted.

And now stories of Jewish refugees that eventually settled in Leeds have been chronicled as part of a new project.

Set up by the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), the My Story scheme has involved Holocaust survivors in the city sharing their journeys from Germany to Leeds.

Following interviews with four survivors, speaking about their life from pre-war to present day, the first My Story books have now been published.

This week, the books were revealed to the public, including some of those whose stories have been told, for the first time by the AJR at the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Community Centre in Leeds.

Among those who have been featured is Liesel Carter, who was born in 1935 in Hildesheim, Germany.

Now 83 years old, she arrived in Leeds aged five after travelling on her own with the help of strangers across Europe.

After the Nazis came to power, Mrs Carter made her way from Germany to Sweden, and then Norway.

She lived in temporary foster homes across the North of England until finally settling in Leeds.

Speaking during the project unveiling, she said: “It has been wonderful doing my story.

“It has been a very nice experience.

“I’m very pleased that this has come about because when I’m not here any more my grandchildren and great grandchildren will be able to see where I came from.”

Others featured include Martin Kapel, who was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1930.

The 88-year-old, along with his mother and sister, were forced out of their home in the middle of the night in 1938 and sent to Poland.

He later lived through the Blitz with a foster family in Coventry and later settled in Leeds.

Michael Newman, chief executive of the Association of Jewish Refugees, told the event: “I think you can see the real personal stories that we have captured.

“It’s extremely moving and personal – and for many people it’s the first time they are telling their stories.

He said that part of the driving force behind the My Story project was that, as first generation Jewish refugees get older, there was now a danger of some of their stories being lost.

Mr Newman said: “It’s an opportunity not only for families to hear these stories in the future, but using this as a resource and as a teaching guide.”