MANCHESTER DIARY
Peter's return 'home' will be emotional

A GERMAN-born man who left the country at the onset of the Holocaust is heading back to his native town.

Peter Weidenbaum, who was born in Rahden, in northern Germany, in 1933, has been invited by the Arbeitskreis Jüdisches Leben organisation in November.

The artist Gunter Demnig remembers the victims of Nazis by installing commemorative brass plaques in the pavement at the last addresses of families.

Known as stolpersteine, they are located in more than 610 places in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Holland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Norway and Ukraine.

Grandfather-of-eight Peter, who now lives in Lytham with his wife Ruth, will travel to Germany with three of his four sons, David, Jeremy and Daniel.

David, of Whitefield, said: "A letter was sent to me - they must have tracked me down through my company.

"I actually thought it was a scam at first, but I looked again and it seemed bona fide. Dad feels moved about it and really wants to go.

"The organisation has tracked down three houses belonging to Jewish residents who fled or who were sent to concentration camps. One of those houses was the one dad was born in.

"They have also located the graves of dad's grandparents in Rahden, so we are going to be taken there, too."

Peter left Rahden with his parents, Lotte and Alfred, in 1937.

They escaped to then-Palestine, living first in Nahariya and then Haifa.

Many of their relatives in Germany were murdered in the Holocaust.

As a youngster in pre-state Israel, Peter helped the Jewish freedom fighters Hagana and the Irgun as a runner between various safe houses.

He later served in the Israeli army as an officer in the engineering corps.

While in the army, Peter married Ruth (nee Abel), also the daughter of German Jews who had left the country for the UK.

Ruth was working as a children's nurse in Israel at the time.

The couple moved to the UK in 1955 and Peter joined his father-in-law Adolf Abel's accounting and measuring instruments' company - which he eventually took over and served as chairman until his retirement when he was 75.

Peter and Ruth have three great-grandchildren.

"I think the stolpersteine idea is something which should be embraced," David explained. "I did not realise so many had been laid throughout Europe.

"It is a great project, so it should be an emotional trip.

"Because dad left Germany when he was four, he only has vague memories of the country.

"He can still speak German and Hebrew, though."


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