Tributes to 103-year-old Holocaust survivor Alice Fraser

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Tributes to 103-year-old Holocaust survivor Alice Fraser

The great-grandmother of 11 fled Germany in 1939 and was interned on the Isle of Man as an ‘enemy alien’

Alice Fraser has died at the age of 103 years old. Pic: AJR
Alice Fraser has died at the age of 103 years old. Pic: AJR

One of the few surviving Jewish refugees from Germany to come to the UK on a Domestic Service permit has died at the age of 103.

Alice Fraser was born in Merzig, Saarland which was integrated into Germany in 1935.

During Kristallnacht her father was arrested and later sent to Dachau. He returned after six weeks and the family decided to leave for Luxemburg in late March 1939.

In her testimony to the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), Alice recalls being strip searched with her sister Hannah on leaving Germany.

Alicer Fraser at the barmitzvah of her great-grandson Nathan, surrounded by her grand children and great grandchildren. Pic: Thanks to Richard Fraser. Pic credit: Leivi Saltman LS Photography

Too old to be evacuated by the Kindertransport, the two sisters travelled to Britain with domestic visas whilst her parents stayed in Luxembourg;  Fraser was interned on the Isle of Man as an ‘enemy alien’ in 1941. Her parents were taken by the Germans and sent to Poland.

She told the AJR: “They came, 2 detectives in plain clothes. I put a nail file in & they took it out again. No scissors. I only had a little case. I wasn’t very happy. I said, ‘All I’m interested in is seeing my sister. Send me anywhere, I don’t care. But I would like to be with my sister.’ They said ‘You’ll meet your sister some time. Don’t you worry.’ And I did, in the end.

“Nobody told us where we were going. Just told, ‘Get your things together’, that’s it. We ended up in Port Erin, billeted in a guest house. We used to get a royal pudding, would exchange that. Hannah & I didn’t care very much for that pudding. We used to get quite a bit for it. We did swimming. I started knitting. We had to peel potatoes. We tried not to let it get to us. Because we knew you just couldn’t do anything about it. So, you had to accept it.”

Released in 1941, the sisters went to Manchester to work for a Jewish family. On eventually returning to London, Alice began work in an ammunition factory.

While visiting friends who were in the Land Army near Oxford, she met her future husband, who was a refugee from Konigsberg, and they got married in 1943, while he was in the British Army.

“Once the war was finished,” her testimony states, “Alice found out that her parents were most likely killed in Auschwitz and she remembers crying for a whole day.”

Alice’s son Ronnie was born in 1947 and the family moved to Southend. She went on to work as a cleaner and school dinner lady.

The testimony archive of the AJR says Fraser “did not talk about her past much, until a grandchild asked her to come to talk to the school. In recent years she has given a number of talks but she emphasises that her life was not special.”

Following her death, grandson David Fraser wrote: “My grandmother Alice, my dad’s mum, passed away over the weekend. She was 103 and alert and bright and on it right up until the end. She was a Holocaust survivor who arrived in this country under distressing circumstances, building a life and a family including four grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, seven of whom she was fortunate to see bar and bat mitzvahed. An amazing woman we will all miss very much.”

Alice in her German passport.

Dr Bea Lewkowicz, Director AJR Refugee Voices told Jewish News: “The Association of Jewish Refugees is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of our treasured members, Alice Fraser. Alice was one of the few surviving Jewish refugees from Germany, who came to the UK on a domestic service visa and then later was interned on the Isle of Man, as an ‘enemy alien’.

We feel privileged to have captured her testimony as part of our Refugee Voices archive, a collection of life stories and experiences of Holocaust refugees and survivors. Through these eye-witness accounts the AJR can ensure that we keep essential lessons of history alive. Alice was a popular and loyal AJR member, who will be fondly remembered.”

The Association of Jewish Refugees issued tributes across social media:

To read excerpts of her interview withi the Association of Jewish Refugees, click here.

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