Kindertransport refugee Hella Pick dies, aged 94

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Kindertransport refugee Hella Pick dies, aged 94

'What a lady! What a journalist': tributes pour in to formidable Guardian foreign correspondent who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938

Hella Pick
Hella Pick

Heartfelt tributes are being paid to Holocaust survivor and renowned journalist Hella Pick, who died on 4 April, aged 94.

Born in Vienna in 1929, Pick was put on a Kindertransport by her mother after Germany annexed Austria in 1938. She went to school in the Lake District, and her mother joined her three months later. Studying at the London School of Economics, Pick became a journalist, spending more than three decades with The Guardian.

One of the only female journalists in what was then a largely male-dominated career, Pick travelled around the world, covering everything from the Watergate scandal and Martin Luther King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, to the Cold War and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. She was appointed CBE in 2000.

In its obituary, the Guardian newspaper paid tribute to the “Formidable foreign correspondent for the Guardian who covered major global events from the 1960s to the 90s, and commanded great respect from world leaders”.


Michael Newman, chief executive officer, The Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), said: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of AJR member Hella Pick CBE. Hella was indefatigable and a pioneering journalist of great repute.

“We feel fortunate to have worked with her on a number of occasions, including most recently to mark the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport. Hella was one of the Kinder who met His Majesty the King at our commemoration last November and participated at events in both Vienna and the UK.

“She was dedicated to raising awareness of the Holocaust and sharing her story. We feel privileged to have captured her testimony as part of our Refugee Voices archive. We send our heart-felt condolences to all those mourning her.”

Karen Pollock, chief cxecutive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Hella Pick CBE. Hella was an extraordinary woman. At the age of 11, she escaped the horrors of life under Nazi occupation and came to Britain as a refugee on the Kindertransport.

Hella-with-Alf-Dubs. Pic: AJR-Voices

“Determined to rebuild her life, Hella would go on to become a trailblazing journalist reporting on presidential elections and the Kennedy assassination. Hella was a very special woman who inspired everyone she met.  We will miss her greatly, and her legacy will certainly live on. Our thoughts go out to Hella’s family and friends. May her memory be a blessing.”

Guardian journalist and thriller writer Jonathan Freedland, writing on Twitter/X, said: “Hella Pick was a pioneer and a Guardian legend. Last summer I sat down to record a long interview with her. She had to break off twice, to take calls from editors about two separate pieces she had in the works: she was 95 at the time”.

The UK’s Post Holocaust issues envoy Lord Eric Pickles wrote: “She was formidable to the end. May her memory be a blessing.”


AJR Refugee Voices wrote: “We are so sorry to hear this news. Hella Pick CBE was a true star. We were with her so recently in Berlin at the @Bundestag. Here she is, with @AlfDubs. We are so grateful for her testimony and our thoughts are with her family”.

The Wiener Holocaust Library posted: “After arriving in the UK as a Kindertransportee, Hella Pick went on to become a formidable journalist, as well as an engaged and sensitive commentator. We were honoured to work with her earlier this year, drawing on her experiences as a child refugee. May her memory be a blessing”.

Hella Pick

BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Kirsty Lang wrote: “Feeling sad at news that the veteran Guardian correspondent Hella Pick has died aged 96. She was a funny, brave, intrepid woman who left Vienna for London on the Kindertransport aged 11. Curious about the world to very end. She will be missed”.

British journalist and broadcaster Adam Boulton simply wrote: “Hella Pick: What a lady! What a journalist”.

Last month, as reported by Jewish News, Hella attended a commemorative plaque unveiling at the British embassy in Vienna dedicated to, and in memory of consular officials and clergy who courageously helped many thousands of Jews escape Austria following the Anschluss (annexation) of March 1938.

She said it was “deeply moving” to be “standing here at the British Embassy, in Vienna, 85-years since the Nazis tore my world apart.”

Hella Pick was born on 24 April 1929 and died on 4 April 2024. To learn more about her life please click here.

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