Bertha Leverton, ‘Driving force’ of Kinder reunions, dies aged 97

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Bertha Leverton, ‘Driving force’ of Kinder reunions, dies aged 97

Founder of Reunion of Kindertransport group dedicated her life to bringing families of Jewish refugees back together.

Jack Mendel is the former Online Editor at the Jewish News.

The Prince of Wales (centre) speaks with Bertha Leverton and Bertha Ohayon, at the Kinder Transport Reunion at the Jewish Free School, Kingsbury, London.
The Prince of Wales (centre) speaks with Bertha Leverton and Bertha Ohayon, at the Kinder Transport Reunion at the Jewish Free School, Kingsbury, London.

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to Kindertransport refugee Bertha Leverton, who has died aged 97 in Israel.

Holocaust educators praised her as a “driving force” of family reunification, and for her support of others forced to flee persecution. 

She escaped Munich in 1938 with her brother Theo and arrived in Britain that December.

Unlike 80 percent of Kindertransport families who were never reunited, Bertha’s younger sister Inge arrived in Britain in 1939, while her parents made a perilous escape from Nazi-occupied Europe, being reunited with Bertha in 1944. 

For the fiftieth anniversary of the Kindertransport in 1989, she helped to organise a reunion, bringing more than a thousand refugees from around the world to Britain. 

Bertha Leverton MBE

She founded and chaired the ‘Reunion of Kindertransport’ group, and dedicated her later life bringing families back together, writing a book about her experiences, called “I Came Alone”.

The Association of Jewish Refugees, which said she made aliyah a decade ago, (AJR) added that it is “deeply saddened” by her death.

She “forged the relationship between the Kinder and the AJR resulting in the Kindertransport Special Interest Group – and was its first chair – that continues today.

Kindertransport souvenir brochure

“As one of the older Kinder on her transport, Bertha looked after the younger children on the journey from home her town in Munich, Germany. Poignantly, her passing came on the anniversary of the arrival of the first Kindertransport in 1938. 

“Although she endured great personal tragedy throughout her life, Bertha was an elder sister to many of the Kinder and a popular presence at the AJR Day Centre and our gatherings.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, paid tribute saying “in her later years Bertha worked tirelessly to reunite and support other Kinder refugees.”

“She was a driving force and founding chair of the Reunion of Kindertransport” while her book was “an account of the experiences of her and her fellow refugees. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and all those who knew and loved her.”

The Prince of Wales speaks with Bertha Leverton. Eric Reich is to the right of Bertha, behind the heir to the throne


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