Meretz UK is delighted to announce a joint event on 19th August.
First, starting at 4 pm at Hashomer House, we host a book launch for Margot Barnard, who will talk about her amazing memoirs
Published by Pomegranate Books, it describes growing up Jewish under the Nazis in Bonn, Germany, where at 14 she set up the first branch of Hashomer Hatzair! Her later life took her to a kibbutz in Mandate Palestine, after which she spent time in Egypt and Nigeria before settling in London.
Endowed with more passion and energy, wit and enthusiasm than most people half her age, Margot at 92 still visits schools in Britain and Germany... in fact, she was one of the first to do so since the 1950s, of her own initiative, and faced much opposition including from other survivors.
A fascinating story of our times by a naturally engaging speaker - not to be missed. Everyone is welcome to purchase copies of Margot's excellent book. We are honoured that she has chosen Hashomer House to launch the English language version of her memoirs.
Donation: £5.50, £2 for members, £4. 50 con'
Summer PicnicSecond, after the book launch, we hope you will join us for our traditional late summer picnic, around 5.30 to 6 pm. Weather permitting we hope to decamp outside. Refreshments provided - but you guessed that already!
More about Margot BarnardMargot Barnard is a 92-year-old lady living quietly in London; a Holocaust survivor who lost both her parents and most of her family at the hands of the Nazis. The title of this book, an account of her dramatic and colourful life, echoes to the last words her mother said to her as the train pulled out of Bonn station as Margot left for Palestine: ‘Don’t go. Don’t go, I’ll Never See You Again’, They proved to be tragically correct.
When the seizure of power by Hitler occurred, Margot found salvation in Zionism and Socialism. She was able to satisfy her progressive ideas in the radical group Hashomer Hatzair. She later lived and worked on a Hashomer kibbutz called Beth Sera. She continues in her commitment to progressive ideas into her 90s, which has informed her open-handed attitude towards her former enemies. This book is an account of a a life committed to peace, goodwill and understanding.
She escaped from Germany to Palestine in 1936 and subsequently served in Egypt in the RAF. She married a British soldier and came to live in England and subsequently accompanied her husband, who stayed on in the Army after the War, on various overseas postings. Eventually, she found herself living in Germany in the mid-1950s.
It was at this point that she began a process to which she has devoted herself for over 50 years, working for reconciliation with the generation of Germans that destroyed her family and educating their children about the realities of life in a fascist-racist society and its consequences.
As a token of the admiration and respect in which she is held in her native city, it was recently decided that a school with which she has formed a relationship – Medinghoven Realschule, is to be allowed to change its name to ‘Margot Barnard Realschule der Stadt Bonn’. The change of name needed a vote in the local parliament and all but three members voted for it.
She has not confined her efforts to Germany. Her extensive lecture programme has included working with youngsters in other European countries, including Britain, which she continues to do into her ninth decade. To date she has given 100s of talks. But her main focus has always been Germany and I’ll Never See You Again was originally written and published in German, in response to those who had heard her speak and wanted to know more about her life. Now available in English, it is a way of continuing her work of reconciliation beyond the point when she will no longer be able to do so in person.
There are many aspects of this dramatic and colourful memoir that will have reverberations for English readers, such as the account of her experiences of life in post-War Britain as a Jewish, German girl from a cultured middle-class family, having to adjust to life in a working-class English family living in South London, shortly after hostilities had ceased in one of the most acrimonious conflicts in history. Ordinary British people could not distinguish between her as a victim and the perpetrators of the death and destruction that Germany had rained down on Britain. This book provides some highly original insights in to how the British are sometimes perceived by foreigners.
Another issue that Margot had to contend with for many years was the hostile reaction of fellow Jewish survivors of the Holocaust to her efforts to effect a reconciliation with the nation that was responsible for their loss and suffering. However, despite opposition, some of it fierce, she has soldiered on regardless. She has an innate sympathy for all who have suffered.