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Photograph of Renate Collins as a young girl.

Renate Collins - a short biography.

Renate Collins was born in 1933 in Prague. The only child of Otto (a banker) and Hilda (a nurse), Renate was brought up in a Jewish household. Otto was originally from Germany, so Renate spoke both Czech and German at home.

When the Germans marched into Prague in March 1939, Renate's parents made the decision to send her to Wales. She escaped on the last Kindertransport train to leave Czechoslovakia before the Second World War broke out. She remembers that "The German soldiers were on the platform and when the train was due to go out, they caught hands to make a line so that the parents couldn't jump on the train."

She was only five years old when she left Prague. Boarding the train was the last time she saw her parents. Her parents and grandparents were murdered in the Holocaust. In total, she lost 64 members of her family during the Holocaust.

Renate was fostered by a Welsh family in Porth, South Wales. Renate quickly learned English and settled into life in her local school and community. She was a keen hockey player, and also enjoyed gardening. Her foster parents, Sidney and Arianwen Coplestone, adopted her after she became naturalised in 1947.

After leaving school, she studied accountancy, typing and shorthand at college, and worked for BOAC, the forerunner of British Airways. She later married her husband, David, and moved to Cornwall, and has two children and five grandchildren. She returned to Wales in 2001, although has now moved back to Cornwall. "I'm only sad that the rest of my family weren't here to have enjoyed life as well," she says.


Refugees from National Socialism in Wales: Renate Collins [accessed 22 December 2021]

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