ARRIVING at the docks in Dover in late 1938, the children from the Kindertransport tried to be brave. They had no idea where they would be going. No idea who would look after them.

Some children were collected by relatives. Others sat waiting. They had no family to greet them. “Be polite to whoever looks after you”, their parents had said, waving them off from cities across Europe. The children knew their parents were sending them far away as a last resort. The children didn’t want to be impolite and to be returned.

Someone in an official uniform read out names. About 20 boys aged 14-16 stepped forward. Three women approached and smiled at them. “We’re taking you to Bradford,” they said. “It’s a few hours away on the train but there you will have a home. We will feed you and you will be well looked after. You will be safe.”

And so began the journey of the boys to their city of sanctuary for the war years.

The Bradford Hostel for Jewish Refugees had been set up very quickly by the Bradford Jewish community to provide a lifeline for German and Austrian Jews. Local Bradford mill owner, Oswald Stroud, made a speech saying that terrible things were about to befall Jews in Germany and Austria and that they must do something to help. A large house was found in Manningham at 1 Parkfield Road and for the war years it was home to at least 24 teenage boys and one girl.

One of the boys Sandor Grünhut (known as Alec) remembered, “We were told there was a place for us in a hostel in Bradford. Bradford? We’d never even heard of it and we had no idea what sort of place it was.”

Holocaust Centre North in Huddersfield now holds a substantial collection of archive material for the hostel. They have photos, letters, documents, and stories which their Archivist and volunteers are sorting through.

“The material about the hostel is important as it shows Jewish life in Bradford through a community initiative, “ said Hari Jonkers of Holocaust Centre North. “But is also reminds us of the north’s role in welcoming refugees over time.”

The boys treated the hostel wardens, Herbert and Marie Eger, as if they were parents. And most parents will sympathise with bringing up one or two teenagers but 20-plus was a challenge!

But the boys remembered their carers with affection and at a reunion to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the hostel in 1989, which took place in the same building, many fond memories were expressed about their years in the hostel and the care of Mr and Mrs Eger.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Boys from the hostel. The photos are from Mr and Mrs Eger's albumsBoys from the hostel. The photos are from Mr and Mrs Eger's albums (Image: Submitted)

Bill Melzer described Mr Eger’s sense of humour and “big heart”. He reflected, “As you think back, you become even more aware at this stage how important the genuine and generous personal involvement of all these people was to us.” Alec added, “I have never met anything but kindness in Bradford. People of all levels went out of their way to help us.”

Many of the boy went on to serve in the British Armed forces, with 15 joining the Army and RAF, while others volunteered for Fire Guard Duty and Air Raid Precautions. They scattered over time to other towns and countries with a few staying closer to home in Bradford, such as mill owner Albert Waxman. Most of the boys never met their parents, brothers and sisters or grandparents again.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Boys from the hostel, in uniform. Many of them went into the Army and RAFBoys from the hostel, in uniform. Many of them went into the Army and RAF (Image: Submitted)

At Holocaust Centre North’s permanent exhibition, you can hear Holocaust survivors who have settled in the north of England, share their own testimonies. The Centre’s permanent exhibition tells a global history through local stories, highlighting the struggles they faced before and after the war as well as the new lives they created for themselves post-war.

If you have any memories of the Bradford Jewish Refugee Hostel or any other memories of the life of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in the north of England, Holocaust Centre North will be interested to hear from you and can be contacted via, (01484) 471939 or email

* In 2012 Albert Waxman told the T&A about life at the hostel. During the Kristallnacht of 1938, Albert’s home in Saarbrucken, Germany, was invaded by SS officers. “They came in black uniforms, we fled to the attic. Everything was smashed up, “ he recalled.

Albert was 14 when he travelled to England on the Kindertransport. “Leaving Germany was my only chance of escape. I saw it as an adventure,” said Albert, who came with 23 other boys to Parkfield Road, Manningham. A 1939 T&A report reads: “This hostel will be a blessed haven to these children, many of whom have been torn from their parents.”

The boys went to Drummond School to learn English. They were forbidden to speak German. For the reunion in 1989, Albert produced a brochure about the hostel (it was later the Carlton Hotel), recalling daily life there; bedroom inspections, pillow fights, playing cricket, visiting local homes for tea, going to the cinema, collecting bluebells in Heaton Woods for Mr Stroud’s mother, who helped at the hostel.

With only one small suitcase per child allowed on the Kindertransport, clothing was scarce. “When I got a shirt or tie from someone, I was delighted, “ says Albert, who worked in a comb factory and became an engineer apprentice. At the end of the war he discovered his parents and brothers were alive, in Israel and France. Albert founded a synthetic fibre business in Bradford which became Waxman Ceramics. He died in 2019, aged 94.

Recalling the reunion, Albert said that although they were emotionally scarred by the Holocaust, some men had never talked about it, even to their wives. “We never forgot the kindness of Bradford,” he said.