It is with immense sadness we learnt today that Lisa Vincent had passed away aged 97. Lisa is a part of our family here at Beth Shalom and her loss has struck us deeply.

Lisa lived just outside Nuremberg with her family where she enjoyed a happy childhood. Lisa’s mother was Jewish but her father was not. Lisa did not speak Hebrew and was not brought up as a religious Jew, she described her family as being “Germans before Jews”.

Following the Nuremberg Laws passed in 1935, Lisa was classified as being ‘fully Jewish’ and Lisa’s father divorced her mother and took her two brothers to South Africa. The Mayor contacted Lisa’s mother and told her their village must be “Judenfrei (free of Jews) and cleansed” and so Lisa and her mother were forced to move into Nuremberg.

Lisa experienced isolation and loneliness caused by the segregation of Jewish and non-Jewish children at school. She was forced to sit at the back of the classroom and was excluded from trips, her friends no longer allowed to speak with her.

Clearly remembering the November Pogrom Lisa described how she and her mother were dragged from their flat in their nightclothes to the town square. Lisa’s mother was loaded onto an open lorry with the men and taken to Dachau and she returned two days later. That night Lisa and the other women and children stood in the square for nearly 6 hours and watched the destruction being caused around them; people being attacked, shop windows being smashed, and the flames from the synagogue that had been set alight. Upon returning home Lisa recalls the striking memory of their piano being chopped in two.

The next day Lisa was no longer allowed to stay at school and her mother knew it would no longer be safe for her stay in Germany. At the end of August in 1939 at the age of 16 Lisa was put onto a train in Nuremberg. The train stayed in Holland for several months when the war broke out before they arrived in London. Reunited with her mother in 1940 who came to England with the help of the Red Cross, they were to be placed in a special camp by the government under suspicion of being spies. Later Lisa would complete factory work towards the war effort. Lisa married and has a daughter and two grandchildren, and she returned to Nuremberg in 1993 for a visit invited by the mayor to once again make her welcome where she had once lived.

A long-term friend and supporter of the Centre, Lisa’s infectious and friendly manner made her so easy and delightful to engage with. We will miss her stories, her wonderful memory and how passionately she wanted children to learn from what happened to her.