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Rudi Leavor

Berlin to Bradford

Rudi Leavor as a boy on holiday in Germany, about 1936. (c) HSFA
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Rudi’s family had a happy life in Berlin but were forced to flee due to the rising antisemitism and persecution in Germany after 1933. They settled and made a new life in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

 

“We were fully integrated and assimilated into German society, German culture and my parents had many non-Jewish friends. So we considered ourselves to be Germans and we happened to be Jewish as well.”

 

Life in Berlin

Rudi was born in Berlin where he had a happy childhood with his parents and sister, Erwine. The family were religiously Orthodox but were fully assimilated into German society. Rudi’s father was a dentist and his practise was in the family home. Rudi attended a German school from the age of six and had many friends; Jewish and non-Jewish.

Rudi’s school class in Germany. Rudi is to the left of the teacher.

 

Persecution

Before 1936 Rudi can remember hearing marches by the SS and SA along the road outside his home. The marches and aggressive songs terrified Rudi.

A turning point for Rudi’s family came in 1936 when two Gestapo officers arrived at their home as Rudi left for school. They took Rudi’s parents to the Lodge they were members of and, along with other members, ordered them to stand silently for hours. As Treasurer of the Lodge Rudi’s mother was forced to hand over any money, after which they were released.

The incident caused Rudi’s parents to decide they had to leave Germany. To get the family visas his father visited England five times and his mother visited three times. His father was able to secure permission to work as a dentist and the family moved to Bradford on 10th November 1938.

Rudi and his sister.

Bradford

When they arrived in Bradford Rudi’s father enrolled him at Bradford Grammar school. Rudi quickly learnt English but found it hard to make friends. Rudi’s father started working as a dentist and the family made a new life in Yorkshire.

 

Rudi did National Service and then followed his father into a dentistry career. He met his wife, Marianne, at a youth group attached to a London synagogue. They settled in Bradford and in 1959 anglicised their name from Liebrowitz to Leavor. For many years Rudi has worked in interfaith relations for which he was awarded a BEM. He is also an active member of both the HSFA and the Reform synagogue in Bradford.

Rudi and his wife Marianne.

 

“The big question is how could he [Hitler] have infected so many thousands of Germans – and Austrians, Ukrainians – into perpetrating these terrible deeds. And this is the eternal question.”

 

To learn more about Rudi’s story visit The Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre. For more information click here

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Videos (9)

Rudi's story: early life in Germany

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Rudi's story: growing up in Nazi Germany

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Rudi's story: persecution in Berlin

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Rudi's story: Berlin to Bradford

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Rudi's story: choosing a career

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Rudi's story: meeting Marianne

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Rudi's story: why remember the Holocaust?

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