A New Life in England

A New Life in England

I was taken to the Fry family residence in Oxford immediately after arriving at Liverpool Street Station. My “foster parents” need to be briefly described.  They consisted of the father in his mid-eighties...and three daughters, all unmarried, who were then in their forties, they had little or no money of their own.  They were all well educated, played string instrument and there was much chamber music going at all times.  The middle daughter was the one who had actually sponsored me and was solely responsible for my welfare.  She was employed at Shrewsbury School, a major English Public School and ran one of the “houses” there.


 

Alan's Kindertransport sponsor, Miss Fry, 1967

From the very first day I was treated as an equal in every respect, just like another family member.  I had my own very pleasant room and joined them at all their meals, which were more formal than I was used to.  Of course it was all very strange, the food, the formal, quite unemotional relationships, the even tempers, the intolerance of “idleness” and any form of self indulgence.  In short, a very different culture, which I immediately strove mightily to imitate.

 

The Fry residence in Oxford remained my home throughout my 10 year stay in England.  this included my time at school, university and the Army.  I would always gravitate back there during holidays and military leave.

Shrewsbury School 
 

In the autumn of 1939 I moved to Shrewsbury with Miss Fry, she to resume her duties after the summer holidays and I to study for the exams leading to university matriculation, concentrating on science and mathematics and taking the easy way out by choosing German as a foreign language.  At the same time I attended night classes, which would lead to a National Certificate in mechanical engineering, a peculiarly British qualification, primarily intended for apprentices in that field.  I had virtually no leisure or social time and I cannot to this day explain my motivation and change from a very indifferent student in Vienna to a top performer.

In the spring of 1941, I sat for and passed both of the two examinations I had prepared for.  Miss Fry also informed me at that time that she was looking for work more in support of the war effort and that I should do likewise, after all, I was 17 years old and able to contribute more tangibly, moreover, I should at the same time earn enough to keep myself and not have to depend on her any more.

I quickly obtained a position as an engineering trainee in a factory dedicated to war work in Manchester and was assigned to the night shift.  This change was so traumatic that I have absolutely no recollection of anything that occurred at that time.

I moved to a refugee hostel run by the Quakers and shared a room with a boy from Vienna, who made his living by delivering groceries on a bicycle.  He is still my best friend and lives in London.


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