Scroll to explore Ellen's journey

1 Königsberg, East Prussia 1920s - 30s

“My name is Ellen Rawson and I was born on 17th January 1922 in Kӧnigsberg in East Prussia, a former kingdom of Germany. I grew up in an extremely happy family. My mother was very outgoing, always friendly, smiling and doing things for others. My father was a very tall and thoughtful man. He was a loving father, but we didn't see him very much because of his work. I remember always kissing his hand because he was so tall!"

2 Königsberg, East Prussia 1922 - 1939

"When Hitler came to power, life didn't change very much to begin with. My father carried on in the family wholesale and retail cloth business. But as the years went on, things got very much more difficult and I had to leave school when I was fifteen and a half. I remember while I was still at school that Jews were not allowed to go the cinema or theatre or take part in anything."

Ellen's Family Flat
This is a photograph taken from the front of the family's flat, it shows people who lived on Ellen's street performing the straight armed Nazi salute as a parade passes through. The flags of the Nazi regime are being carried by the people in the parade, and one is displayed on the building opposite Ellen's home.

3 Mannheim Nov-38

"When Kristallnacht, the 'Night of Broken Glass,' happened in 1938, I was away from home in Mannheim, learning sewing. I'll never forget the noise that night in Mannheim - the rabble going down the road, smashing things wherever they found Jewish flats."

4 Berlin, Germany Jun-39

"I left in June 1939. The whole family came to see me off at the station in Kӧnigsberg and my father travelled with me to Berlin to join the Kindertransport train. I remember one of my cousins racing down the platform as the train was starting, just to say goodbye to me. I was a bit tearful, but I didn't take it all that seriously. I thought I would see them all again."

Final Image of family
Last photograph of Ellen's immediate family

5 London, UK - 1939

"We were told there was a suspected case of scarlet fever on the train and people were asked whether they wanted to take us or not. Our little group wasn't wanted, so we were taken to Islington hospital and spent over a week there. The scarlet fever turned out to be a false alarm. Eventually, the Committee lady came and collected me. She had lost her domestic help at home, so I was left to cook, clean and do everything in the house. It was horrible. I just sat on the stairs and cried."

Entrance Papers
This is Ellen's permit, which allowed her to come to England. It includes her date of birth, her parent's details, and place of origin.

6 Maidenhead, UK

"I was sent from one family to another working like this, usually for just a fortnight. I must have stayed with at least eight or ten families. Sometimes, I was happy with the family, sometimes not. I was hoping to go to a trade school and learn tailoring, but then war broke out and I was evacuated."

7 Staffordshire, UK

"It was all so very, very different from my home life in Germany. My brother Gert came to England as well on an agricultural working permit."

This letter is from 1941 and pertains to Gert's internment by Britain under a blanket scheme targeting potential enemy aliens, due to his German nationality, during the Second World War. Ellen is asking for her brother to be released. On the envelope we can see that Ellen is living in Staffordshire.

8 Nottingham, UK - 1941

Eventually, Ellen married and moved to Nottingham where she settled. In later life she began to share her testimony about what happened to her during the Holocaust.

Envelope Addressed to Ellen
This envelope is addressed to Ellen, who at the time was living in Nottinghamshire. The letter within it was written by Ellen's parents, Hans and Margarete, who had been forced into a Ghetto with Ellen's youngest brother, Heinz. The envelope is stamped 'British Red Cross and St. John War Organisation', as the Red Cross facilitated communication between people as far as it found possible during the Second World War. However communication was difficult, letters were restricted for length and content, and subject to Nazi scrutiny. Ellen's parents were able to maintain contact for a short time and establish that Ellen was safe in England, however both her parents, Hans and Margarete, were murdered during the Holocaust.