MANCHESTER DIARY
Attenborough loved 'sisters' who escaped Nazi Germany

LORD ATTENBOROUGH, who died on Sunday, had two extra 'sisters'.

The parents of the actor and Oscar-winning director took in two German-Jewish girls who had escaped to Britain during the Holocaust on the Kindertransport.

Helga and Irene Bejach arrived when Lord Attenborough was 15 in 1939 and lived with the family for seven years.

Lord Attenborough wrote in the Daily Mail in 2009 that "they helped shape our lives" and that "we loved them and cherished them".

He kept in touch with them, phoned them regularly, and they visited each other until Irene died in 1992 and Helga in 2005.

Lord Attenborough added: "They were two pale waifs with their pathetic little cases, aged 10 and 12. They looked sad and ill.

"They were also nervous wrecks. Their house in Germany had been smashed by Nazis with guns and their father taken away.

"After the girls had been with us for three weeks, my brothers David, John and I were called into the study by our parents.

"Our mother said, 'We absolutely love you boys, but we will have to show even more love to these girls because they are here on their own and without their parents. It is entirely up to you, darlings, if they stay'."

He said his parents had always "stood up and were counted wherever they saw an injustice being done," and that's why they took in the girls.

"The three of us boys had no hesitation in taking Helga and Irene into our family," the Gandhi director wrote.

"We really did see them as sisters, virtually from the time we were told they were going to live with us."



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