Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘We were very poor but we were lucky to be alive’

Sonja Altschul-Allan with grandson Jake Allan.

Sonja Altschul-Allan with grandson Jake Allan. - Credit: Archant

Sonja Altschul-Allan, 79, of Rochester Court, Hendon, left Berlin in 1939 when she was five-years-old. Her grandson, Jake Simon Altschul Allan, 17, of Hampstead Garden Suburb, shares his grandmother’s German name and wants to pass it down to his family.

“My father was part of the Jewish resistance and was wanted by the Nazis so he was shipped out in secret to France,” said Mrs Altschul-Allan.

“My mother was left alone with three children. She was contacted and told exactly how to leave. We walked out of our home with nothing but a pushchair, with the padding stuffed with things the children might need.

“When we arrived in London Liverpool Street we didn’t speak a word of English and we didn’t know a soul.

“We found a room in a small house in Warwick Avenue. Eventually my father managed to get to England. We were very poor but we were lucky to be alive.

“One amazing thing is that my grandson was the third generation to get Bar Mitzvah-ed at Belsize Square Synagogue and it was the first time that had happened.”

Mrs Altschul-Allan’s grandson Jake said: “Whenever anyone brings up anything about the Holocaust I always say how my grandparents arrived here.

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“The stories show a lot of bravery and are very special to remember. The Holocaust is such a horrific thing. And these little snippets – like my grandmother keeping her German name – are very important, to let people know who we are.”