Kurt Treitel obituary

My father, Kurt Treitel, who has died aged 95, was one of the oldest surviving Kindertransport children. He left Berlin on a train in March 1939 just two weeks short of his 17th birthday – at which point he would have been too old to qualify as a “child” and flee Nazi Germany by that means. He talked often of how wonderful it was to arrive in the UK and feel safe at last: he remained eternally grateful to the British people, who had taken him in as a penniless refugee and saved his life. Yet he also remained comfortable with his German origins.

He was born in Berlin, to Theodor Treitel, a lawyer, and his wife, Hanna (nee Levy), a kindergarten teacher. The family was well-off and the young Kurt grew up surrounded by characters from the Weimar cultural scene, the Berlin intelligentsia and leftwing political figures. He was also used to experiencing the grim realities of life as a Jewish child as the Nazis rose to power: he would be routinely marked down by his teacher, who admitted that it would not be appropriate for a Jewish boy to be seen coming top of the class.

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