Holocaust survivor visits PTC
Students hear an incredible story
Mr Fred Austin MBE aged 85, father of Dudley North MP Ian Austin, tells how he narrowly escaped the clutches of the Nazis, having to leave behind his mother and two older sisters Ilse and Trude in Czechoslovakia. They died together in a gas chamber at the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland on October 5, 1942.
Following the invasion of Austria by Germany in 1938, anti-Semitism by the Nazis spread across the borders to Jewish families living in Czechoslovakia and surrounding countries. In early 1939 Fred’s mother she had a telephone call from a friend in Vienna to offer Fred a chance to escape to England that had originally been offered to her own son but he was 15 and the Germans banned anyone over 14 to leave the country.
Arrangements were made for Fred to go with an England school master back to England in the Easter holiday.
Fred’s mother took him to Prague to get his passport stamped and secure the journey to freedom. “I looked out the window and there was my mother standing on the platform waving a white handkerchief. That was the last time I was to see her.”
Fred captivated the pupils recounting his years of growing up in England, looked after by Phillip Austin and how he later went on to marry, adopt four children, become a teacher and eventually a Headmaster at Dudley Grammar School where he retired in 1985.
He explained how as an adult he found out about his family’s suffering through contact with his sister’s Ilse’s boyfriend and returning to visit his homeland.
Fred has written a book called “Czech and Mate” published by Brewin Books in which he tells his life story.