It has been important for me to remember the past and to write quite a bit of it down; I hope it might be important for others as well.
- Dorothy Fleming

Dorothy was born in Vienna in 1928. She lived with her parents, little sister, and grandmother, and led a happy life prior to the Nazi occupation of Austria.

Dorothy had just started high school in 1938 when the Nazis invaded, and was on track to go to university. However, the Nazis’ anti-Jewish laws meant that she had to sit at the back of the classroom facing the wall, and the other children were forbidden from speaking to her and the other Jewish children in her class. Dorothy remembers hearing her teacher telling the other girls in the class to spy on their families, and report anyone criticising the new regime to her. Eventually she was forced to leave her school.

After Kristallnacht, the Jewish population were extremely concerned about their safety, and many tried to flee. Some even committed suicide as they could see no other way out. Dorothy’s father’s business was also taken over shortly after Kristallnacht.

Eventually, Dorothy’s parents learned of the Kindertransport, and applied for places for Dorothy and her sister. They were fortunate, as the same family agreed to take them both, which was often not the case.

Dorothy said her goodbyes to her family, and on the 10th of January 1939 she and her sister set off for England from Vienna.  Dorothy’s mother had decided when Dorothy was still at school that she should learn English rather than French, which was the normal second language for Austrian children – Dorothy was extremely grateful for this as most of the children on the train did not speak any English.

Their journey passed without any issues, and all the children on the train were very grateful when they crossed the Dutch border, where they were given hot chocolate and cakes. It was then on to London, where they spent the night with a family friend. The friend they stayed with sent Dorothy’s parents a letter informing them of their children’s safe arrival, which must have been a huge relief.

Dorothy and her sister then travelled to Leeds to meet their foster family – a very friendly young couple called Theo and Tilly, along with, much to Dorothy’s delight, a golden retriever called Buster. Dorothy’s sister did not settle in England as easily as Dorothy, as she spoke no English and had never been apart from her parents before. Dorothy on the other hand enjoyed living in England. She knows that she was very fortunate to have had a loving foster family, and a welcoming school to go to.

Dorothy’s parents managed to secure passage to England after her father was offered work in Newcastle, however this meant that they could not stay with their children in Leeds, and could only see them briefly on their way to Newcastle. This upset Dorothy’s sister, and when it turned out that her parents could not stay in Newcastle, she went with them to London, leaving Dorothy in Leeds.

However, Dorothy could not stay much longer, and eventually had to move in with her aunt and uncle in Cardiff, as she could not move in with her parents in London. She stayed here for a few years, and was happy enough, although did have some fallings out with her aunt and uncle. She was very worried about her family during this time, as her sister had been evacuated, her father was in prison on the Isle of Man for being an ‘enemy alien’, and her mother was alone in London during the Blitz.

Eventually Dorothy was able move to London to be with her mother, however was evacuated to the countryside only days after arriving. Dorothy was then reunited with her family in Cardiff in 1941, 2 years after their arrival in England.

Dorothy was a dear friend and supporter and often gave her testimony at the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, and wrote down a great deal about her experiences, firmly believing that the study of the past would pave the way for a brighter future.

The Collection 

The museum houses many documents, objects, and photographs donated by Dorothy. It is our privilege to care for these artefacts and ensure they are available for future generations. The museum's collection provides vital, tangible, evidence of the Holocaust. We are committed to ensuring we have everything we need to continue to tell our speaker's stories into the future. Please find a selection of objects below from the Dorothy Fleming Collection, you can also search our collections for further objects and information.