And I have been able to express my feelings (of gratitude) by planting a rose in the Memorial Gardens at Beth Shalom, together with a plaque inscribed with the words “you brought me out in time,”. 
 -Manfred Dessau re thanking his parents for saving their family.

Manfred was born in 1926 in Leipzig, Germany. He was the child of Polish parents, and had an older brother called Joachim. Manfred’s parents had encountered anti-Semitism in Poland long before the Nazis came to power, and his father had moved to Germany to avoid doing military service for the Polish army, where it was well known that Jews were mistreated.

Manfred remembers his early years in Germany and can recall that many German Jews did not think the anti-Semitism would spread to them, as they were born and bred in Germany. They believed the anti-Jewish sentiment would be directed at the Eastern European Jews who were coming into Germany.

Manfred’s father left for Britain in 1934, as he was due to appear in court for a motoring offence. As a Jew, he would have surely been sent to prison, then a camp. He was able to get a Polish passport, which Manfred still has, and found someone who would offer him work in England.

Manfred and his brother and mother had a hard time in Germany without a father or husband. Manfred and his brother had to leave school and attend a Jewish school in the local synagogue, and anti-Semitism was on the rise. Manfred can remember the parades of SS officers, beating Jews with truncheons as they passed.

Mass hysteria had gripped Germany during Hitler’s rise, and Manfred can remember Hitler’s visit to Leipzig. The crowds lined the streets, screaming ‘Heil Hitler!’ in a fanatical manner. Such was the hysteria that Manfred, still a child who did not understand truly what was going on, joined in.

In 1935, Manfred’s mother was able to secure a Polish passport for herself and her children, and they were able to join Manfred’s father in England. Manfred can remember leaping off the train carriage into his father’s arms after arriving in London. They then travelled to Nottingham, where they were to live.

Manfred recalls their second day in Nottingham, the 5th of November, and being very impressed by the fireworks and bonfire – he thought they were celebrating the arrival of his family!

In 1937 Manfred’s parents had a baby, a girl called Faye. This brought much joy to their family. However, in 1939 the war broke out between Britain and Germany, which made Manfred’s parents very worried, as they knew what a German victory would mean for them.

Manfred was evacuated to Mansfield just before the war broke out. He did not enjoy his time with the first family he stayed with, however he moved to a new home and was looked after by a Dr Stronach, with whom Manfred got on with well. Manfred later met Dr Stronach’s son, also a doctor, and informed him that he had slept in his bed during the war, much to Dr Stronach Jnr’s bemusement.

In 1941 Manfred retuned to Nottingham, and worked on farms to help with the war effort. He also joined the Civil Defence Cadet Corp, which involved running errands and delivering messages on his bicycle to Air Raid Wardens. Once it was discovered that Manfred spoke German, he was often used as an interpreter for German POWs.

After the war, Manfred led a happy and fulfilling life, although did not forget his past. He made trips back to Leipzig and Poland in order to see what happened to other members of his family. He later planted a rose in the garden at the Centre in memory of his parents, whose quick actions saved Manfred and his brother, and spared them from the horrors of the Holocaust.

Manfred has been a long term friend and supporter of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum. He continues to share his testimony when is he able.