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Helen Singer


‘Both my parents came to Britain as refugees.  My mother, Hanna Singer, arrived on the Kindertransport. This scheme allowed 10,000 unaccompanied children fleeing the Nazis to come to Britain as long as they had a guarantor.


I have lived in St Albans since 1985 and worked as a librarian at the University of Hertfordshire for over 20 years. Perhaps because of my background, I enjoy volunteering with Herts Welcomes Refugees.’


This photograph is of my mother, Hanna, when she was ten years old, arriving at Liverpool Street Station from Germany in July 1939. She is on the right with plaits, holding her doll. Her father, my grandfather Willy Cohn, was murdered in Auschwitz extermination camp.’

Hanna Singer ID card.jpeg

‘This is my mother’s German identity card. It is marked with a J for Jew and the additional name Sara, which was given to all Jewish girls by the Nazis. My mother’s life was saved by Mary Caro, a schoolfriend of my grandmother. They had met in Switzerland  in 1914.'

Alex Singer's suitcase.jpg

‘My grandfather Alex Singer and grandmother

Anne Singer, were both dentists in

Nuremberg, Germany. This suitcase contained many amazing documents telling the story of my grandfather’s life in Germany and his escape to Britain. He was desperate to practise dentistry in England, but his qualifications were not recognised here.’

kiddush cup.jpg

‘When our son was born, my parents gave me this beautiful kiddush cup, engraved with the family name. On Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) and at festivals we say a blessing and drink wine from it. To me it represents the importance of passing on our stories to future generations.’

Peter Singer barmitzvah.jpeg

‘This photograph was taken in 1937 with a camera given to my father, Peter Singer, for his Bar Mitzvah –

a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony. Peter set the camera on a tripod, starting a lifelong interest in photography. The picture shows Peter, 13, his sister Suse, and their parents Alex and Anne. Shortly after this photo was taken, Peter came to school in England. He was joined by his parents just before war broke out.’

Helen's 'spotlight' talk at the museum 24-4-22

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