u3a - Kindertransport Memories - Rachel Williams

Rachel Williams

Member of Crawley u3a

Rachel Williams – memories of Pieter and Kindertransport

Pieter Zadek

 Peter Berlin

Pieter in Berlin

My first memory of Peter, as we called him, is when my father brought him home from Croydon – the collection centre for the Kindertransport. I was 3 at the time and didn’t understand any of the awful implications.

Peter, aged 9, spoke no English when he arrived and was always a very quiet boy. He seemed to fit in quite well with our large family. He never spoke German again or talked about his past. Looking back he was probably traumatised by his past and by leaving his parents so young.

His brother John (Hans), lived with a childless couple in Croydon. The boys never seemed interested in meeting up, though my father used to invite John over. Later Peter joined the local scouts which he really enjoyed.

 Peter England

Peter with the Williams family

Once during the war, the police called at our house having been told that we were harbouring a German spy – Peter was 10 years old!

To begin with, my parents received letters, via the Red Cross, from Peter’s mother but these stopped abruptly. We have a letter from Pieter’s uncle, a GP, who had managed to get to America.

When Peter left school he decided to join the army in order to learn a trade. He enjoyed the life and he sent my sister and me each our first pair of nylon stockings – from Egypt!

One day when I was 15, on my own at home, a telegram came saying that Peter had been killed in a road accident in Cyprus. We were devastated! Our last letter from him said that he was hoping to be home for Christmas.

Peter, who had been as a brother to us, was gone.


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