Jun. 30, 2017
- How Margaret Thatcher’s Family Sheltered an Austrian Jew during the Holocaust – Robert Philpot
In 1939, Edith Muhlbauer, 17, lived in Vienna. The year before, the German Wehrmacht had crossed the border and, without a shot being fired, occupied Austria. The Nuremberg Laws were applied to Austria, Jews were stripped of their citizenship and the doors to many professions barred to them. On Nov. 9, 1938 – Kristallnacht – all but one of Vienna’s 42 synagogues were burned to the ground. Mobs attacked and looted shops owned by Jews. The police responded by arresting 8,000 Jews, sending 5,000 of them to Dachau.
Edith wrote to her English penpal, Muriel Roberts, asking if she could come and stay. Muriel’s father Alfred was keen to help. At his local Rotary club, he read out an appeal by Edith’s father. His fellow Rotarians agreed to pay Edith’s travel, to provide her a guinea a week pocket money and to each host the teenager in their homes for a month or so.
Edith arrived in Grantham, a provincial Middle England town, and met Muriel and her 13-year-old sister, Margaret – who, 40 years later, would enter No. 10 Downing Street as Britain’s first female prime minister. Years later, Margaret Thatcher recalled Edith. “She told us what it was like to live as a Jew under an anti-Semitic regime. One thing stuck in my mind: the Jews, she said, were being made to scrub the streets.” (Times of Israel)