Reconciling the past

Towards the end of the war, Frank Henley, joined the British Army and was sent to Germany where he worked on the front lines arresting Nazi war criminals. In a 1989 interview with Alan Dein, he shared his memories of changing his name, returning to Germany, discovering what had happened to his parents and returning to his life in Britain.Courtesy World Jewish Relief and British Library Sound Archive


In the immediate aftermath of the war, as the horror and scale of the Holocaust was revealed, searching for missing relatives and finding out the details of their deaths was a long and heartbreaking task. Many had to wait years for answers, and some, like Gerda Stein’s father Arnold, were never found.


Prisoner number list from the Concentration camp Mauthausen, where Emanuel Peschel was sent from Auschwitz in the death marches in January 1945. His name is near the bottom of the list, crossed out and dated upon his death on 13th April 1945. International Tracing Service /Wiener Library Collections.


Emmanuel Peschel’s prisoner card from Mauthausen, crossed out indicating his death. International Tracing Service. Many of the Kinder and their children found out about their loved ones’ fates using the ITS. Wiener Library Collections.



Ilse, Gerda, Gisella, Lilli, Hannah and Frank (Otto) all lost their parents in the Holocaust. Ruth Peschel lost her brother, Emmanuel. Ken Gardner’s parents and brother emigrated to Central America, and the family were later reunited, although Ken remained in England. Walter Finkler was released from internment at the end of the war, and the Finkler family began rebuilding their lives in Britain together.

All of the children featured in this exhibition were not only saved, they were given a chance for a new life in a new place, away from the horrors and trauma that faced other survivors. After the war were all granted British citizenship. The £50 re-emigration fee each child had to provide to come here, was, in their cases, never needed.


Ilse Majer’s certificate of naturalisation. Wiener Library Collections.


Ilse Majer’s signed oath of allegiance. Wiener Library Collections.


Ken Gardner’s certificate of name change. Like Frank, Ken had to change his name when he joined the army.


Ken Gardner, right, as an army cadet. Wiener Library Collections.


Ken Gardner, visiting his parents and brother in Honduras after the war. Wiener Library Collections.


Evi Finkler’s mother, Hansi, working as a domestic servant in West London in the 1940s. Domestic visas were one of the only ways adult refugees were able to come to Britain during this period. Many of them were from middle class backgrounds and struggled with the sudden change of lifestyle.
Wiener Library collections



Lilli Krieger with her new husband, Alfred Krieger, who was also a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia. Wiener Library Collections.


‘Even though I’d like to see you, yes, even though I’d like to see you very much, I am content with whatever God wills for me in the knowledge that my children are well.’

Arnold Stein, writing to Gerda Stein from Lwow, 8 November 1940