Woman who escaped Nazi Germany as child shares how her father died in Holocaust
The incredible journey across Europe made by a four year old child escaping Nazi Germany, has emerged on Holocaust Memorial Day.
Leisel Carter, had lost “most of her family”, before she was sent on the solo journey to Hull.
Her father and cousins died in a concentration camp and her aunt and uncles committed suicide on the train to Riga in Latvia.
Her mother had travelled ahead to the UK to work in services but had to leave her daughter behind because of visa restrictions.
Leisel said travel between Germany and the UK was arranged by the family who employed her mum as a housekeeper in England in 1939 just before the war started.
They helped Leisel get a ‘Nansen ‘passport, which was issued to stateless refugees by the League of Nations and enabled the youngster to leave Germany.
Leisel believes she travelled first to Berlin and then to Sweden for a “short time” before going on to Norway by boat.
She then made her way to Hull, which is where her mum was working.
Leisel said: “There was no one with me on the journey as far as I’m aware.
“I believe people were meeting me at certain points and putting me on to various forms of transport to get to the next place.
“I have very fleeting memories from that time so I am relying on what I have learned and been told since then.”
The young Jewish girl eventually safely made it to England and was placed with a foster family in Leeds because of her mum’s employment situation.
Leisel, who now has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, counts herself “extremely lucky” to have escaped Germany when she did.
The 85 year old, said: “I think it’s vital we continue to talk about the Holocaust because what happened to Jewish people then is still happening in other countries today.
“People are being killed not only because of their race but because of their religion.”
Leisel was born Leisel Meier in Hildesheim, Germany, in 1935.
Her father was beaten in the streets by the Nazis and died in a concentration camp when she was only 18 months old.
Leisel’s mother travelled to England not allowed to take her daughter who was left behind in Germany, either in a children’s home or with friends.
Her mother’s employers worked tirelessly to find a way to get Leisel to England and safety and she eventually left Germany for the UK.
She travelled to Norway via Sweden and once there lived with a family called the Alfsens, who she has happy memories of spending one Christmas with.
A short time later the youngster was reunited with her mother in England,
although they couldn’t live together because of her mum’s work.
Her mum moved from service in Hull to London.
Leisel lived with three foster families before settling down with parents Jack and Mary Wynne in Leeds, where she still lives.
She stayed in touch with her mother and they spent school holidays together, but they never lived together again.
Leisel lived with the Wynnes until she married her husband Terry, with whom she had three children before his death 15 years ago.
Although Leisel’s story has a happy ending she lost most of her family in the Holocaust.
The retired secretary added: “I lost most of my family in the Holocaust and was brought up by people who weren’t my parents.
“Despite that, I was very lucky to come here and end up with a lovely couple.
“It wasn’t until I met Terry and had children that I had a real family of my own. I’m really pleased I came to England.
“I’m definitely a Yorkshire woman now.”