Zdenka Husserl and Arek Hersh (MBE) were 2 of the children who were liberated from Theresienstadt in May 1945. They were flown from Prague to England on the 14th and 15th of August 1945. They were housed in various places in Windermere and then split into groups and sent to various locations across the country.

They were part of a group often referred to as The Boys (although there was also girls in the group) who were permitted entry to the United Kingdom after the end of the war. The British government offered this to up to 1,000 children up to the age of 16 who were survivors of the Holocaust, however only 732 children could be found to come to Britain. The endeavour was organised by the Central British Fund which had helped Jewish refugees since 1933, including through the Kindertransport.

Zdenka Husserl

Zdenka was born in 1939 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She was imprisoned with her mother, Helena, in Theresienstadt. Her mother was sent to Auschwitz in 1944. Zdenka remained in Theresienstadt when it was liberated by the Red Army on the 8th of May 1945. From there, she was housed with other children who survived in four castles near Prague. She left Prague in a Lancaster bomber but because the planes couldn't fly to England in one trip they stopped briefly in Holland. She arrived in the last plane to fly from Holland to England, on the 15th of August 1945. Zdenka landed in Crosby-on-Eden and stayed in Windermere until December 1945 when she moved to Lingfield House, Surrey.

Zdenka had a happy life in Lingfield House with other refugee children who became her close friends. She was granted British citizenship in 1954.

Zdenka’s date of arrival, the 15th of August 1945, was the birthday of Alice Goldberger, the woman who ran Lingfield House. Alice used to say that the arrival of the group to Lingfield House was the best birthday present she received.

Arek Hersh MBE

Arek was born in 1928 in Sieradz, Poland. He was sent to Otoschno slave labour camp, then he returned to Sieradz before being sent to the Łódź Ghetto. He remained there until the 25th of August 1944 when the ghetto was liquidated. He, and the other inhabitants of the ghetto, were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was sent on a death march to Buchenwald on the 18th of January 1945, from there he was sent in April 1945 on a long journey to Theresienstadt, arriving on the 4th of May 1945. He was liberated four days later.

He was sent from Prague to Windermere in August 1945 with the group of child survivors after his liberation from Theresienstadt. He remained there for a few months before being moved to Liverpool and then Manchester.

Find out more on Arek’s story and Zdenka’s story.