Walter liked to think of himself as cultured, but he certainly didn’t want to be seen
as Austrian, Viennese or Jewish.

Guy’s father Walter – Jewish but from a secular Viennese family – arrived in the UK by Kindertransport in March 1939. Having experienced the multiple traumas of arrest and deportation, he was then shipped to Australia as an enemy alien, where he learned English and, deciding that Jewishness had brought him only grief, was baptised. He returned to the UK after taking British citizenship and worked as an interpreter for the British Army during the final allied push into Austria in April 1945.

Walter liked to think of himself as cultured, but certainly not as Austrian, Viennese or Jewish. Determined to build a business that would protect his family from the kind of dictatorship he had experienced, he started a business immediately after the war. It became a high-end antiques dealership with a Mayfair gallery.

Social climbing, a very British way to insulate oneself from society’s ills, was part of Walter’s DNA. He had very fixed ideas about how he wanted things to be but was incapable of conveying these to his wife and children. His marriage and many of his relationships were marked by disruption and misunderstanding.

Only in his 70s did he acknowledge his heritage, accepting that he was genetically Jewish and that baptism as a Christian could not wash this away.

This project is part of the initiative ‘Stand Together and Go Virtual’, supported by the German Embassy London and the Goethe-Institut London.