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Consequences of becoming a refugee

Becoming a child refugee was an ambiguous experience. Initially,  there was an enormous sense of liberation from the oppression and fear! This was especially the case for adolescents. But though the feeling of gratefulness was strong, soon the realisation set in that they had lost family and home for an uncertain amount of time. Many never saw their families again.

Lost connections

Keeping in touch with home proved difficult, since postal connections were soon cut off by the war. Children would have been apprehensive about the future, as they were separated from their families.

What were the greatest hopes and worries when Jewish children eagerly waited for news from home? 
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Foreign language

Anxiety was intensified because many of the children did not speak English. They also travelled alone. Even if siblings came to England, it proved difficult to stay in contact.

Why could Ruth and her sister Hannah not be together after both of them had come to England? 
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

No income or security

Insecurity and fear arose for many adolescents, because they were well aware that they may have arrived without a valid passport. Their two-year educational visa prohibited them to seek employment.

Harry Bibring was just 13 when he arrived in England. What is the first thing he remembers about this? Why would that have been so prominent in his memory?
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum


Encounters with antisemitism were not uncommon. Once the war had begun, many were singled out as being enemy aliens. In some cases, this meant being interned in a camp until the war was over.

In contrast to this, some were able to enlist in the British Army and to fight back.

What would a young man do, knowing he was the only family member to reach safety? How does if it feel to watch on as more and more news about the war and the concentration camps arrive? Bernard Grunberg remembers his friend Hans Arnstein and the decision to fight back.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum