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This is an audio clip from an interview with Julius Weil where he talks about Kristallnacht in Cologne, and the destruction of his school and how his headmaster tried to get the whole school transferred to London.

In his interview, Julius talks about living in Cologne with his parents and younger brother until 1938; on 9-10 November that year, his school was destroyed in Kristallnacht. Julius' headmaster successfully organised to get the whole school transferred to London. Julius was on the first 'Kindertransport' train to leave the country. He never saw his parents or brother again. Julius and his school colleagues were initially sent to Cricklewood, London. With the outbreak of war, Julius was sent to Bedford, where he was billeted with a non-Jewish family. After leaving school at the age of 15, Julius went to work for the Ministry of Supply (MoS) in its catering division, first in Bedford then in Egham, Surrey. He left the MoS at the end of the war and worked in a factory in Staines, Surrey. In 1956, Julius was invited by the first friend he made in England, another Jewish refugee, to go and work for him; his uncle owned the Standard Box and Carton Company, which relocated from London to Pentrebach, near Merthyr Tydfil. Julius spent the rest of his working life with the company, eventually becoming a director. Julius initially attended Orthodox synagogues in Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff, but moved to the Reform synagogue in 1968, at the time of his first marriage. Julius Weil died in February 2021.


Interviewer: So, you mentioned Kristallnacht.

Julius Weil: Yes.

Interviewer: So, you have some memories of, of that?

Julius Weil: [Pause.] Oh, yes.

Interviewer: Can you tell me more?

Julius Weil: Well, I, I wasn’t out and about when it happened, but all the sort of Jewish businesses in, in Cologne [Köln in German] were smashed up. Windows broken; more or less closed down. My synagogue, well, all the synagogues were trashed, burnt, and smashed up. The school I went to, which was sort of attached to one of the synagogues, was also completely destroyed. So, school did not continue after the ninth, tenth of November, but there were some facilities organised in, in a big building which, which had rooms in it, which was a Jewish community centre, I suppose. So, that’s where the schooling continued. My headmaster, immediately, [pause] got very busy trying to get the whole of the school transferred to Britain. And my class, which was the sort of third class of high school, in other words 13, 12, 13-year olds, was the first class to come over to England.

Depository: The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales.

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