Friday 27th January is Holocaust Memorial Day.
To mark the occasion, a display has been mounted in Ilkley Library featuring the hostel ‘Loxleigh’ that was established in 1939 on the corner of Mount Pleasant and Cowpasture Road.
During the tense pre-war period the British Parliament had agreed to admit an unspecified number of children from Hitler’s Germany who were in danger of being sent to concentration camps. Agonising decisions were made by parents to send their children alone on the ‘Kindertransport’
In Ilkley, a committee for the Care of Refugees was established and the hostel was opened, made possible by the efforts of the local Quaker community and earlier immigrants from Europe, many of whom had been successful in business in the West Riding.
The display features the stories of some of those who passed through the hostel including Sigi Wassermann and Edgar Klugman who came on the kindertransport and the story of Arnold Vanderhorst who came in 1945. Arnold had survived the war by hiding in woods near Arnhem. After the war, malnourished, Arnold was sent to the hostel in Ilkley to recuperate and then to join a new foster family in Ilkley.
On Friday, January 27th at 11.00 at City Hall, Bradford there is the annual Holocaust Memorial Day event, all are welcome.
On Monday January 30th at 11.00 in Ilkley there will be a short walk and talk from the Ilkley Library to the Kindertransport hostel in Cow Pasture Road by Nigel Grizzard.
Here we reproduce an extract from ‘Ilkley at War’ by Caroline Brown
Refugees in World War Two
The first boys coming to the hostel in Ilkley arrived on 6th March 1939, all of Jewish ancestry. These boys were aged between fourteen and sixteen and attended schools in Ilkley. Some of those placed in Ilkley came with the last children’s transport from Germany at the end of August 1939. One of the boys later described to a reporter of The Ilkley Gazette his joy at meeting a brother in England after he had lost all hope. It had been the last train to leave Germany with passengers bound for England. Another boy described waving goodbye to his parents and then a rush to get to the ship.
‘A very nice station master wired to Ostende for us in order to hold up the ship a few minutes…we arrived at Ostende and ran across the quay; the passengers on board were waving to us – and porters threw our luggage on board. Saved!’
Once on board ship he recalled:
‘It is fearfully wet and stormy. There are so many emigrants; it is all so sad – so many people who have lost their fatherland. We rejoice when we see the lights of Dover but we are so exhausted.’
He describes the hostel at Ilkley:
‘I found myself in a very nice little room, with green curtains and a little cupboard and bed…everyone was very kind but I felt terribly lonely and I was tired to death by the unfamiliar work.’
Members of the Ilkley Quaker Community later recalled the difficulty they had in locating these children in the gloom of Leeds Holbeck Station in the blackout.
In August 1939, a writer and teacher from Vienna, themselves refugees, became permanent wardens. In the months and years that followed, many other refugees, younger and older, passed through the hostel fleeing from persecution in Europe, sometimes sleeping eight to a bedroom.
Many of the boys learned occupations such as agriculture, joinery and mechanics and entered employment in various parts of the country; others were preparing for emigration and did not remain long. Some joined the forces and others were able to join relatives in Britain and overseas..