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HOLOCAUST EDUCATIONAL TRUST

FIRST GENERATION SURVIVOR

FRANCOISE ROBERTSON

EVENING LECTURE

Monday, 13th May 

19:00 – 20:30


 
 
 
 
Evening lectures featuring a new guest speaker each month covering a broad spectrum of topics including the arts, academia, and more…
 
 

TIME & LOCATION



Date and time: May 13 2024 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Location: 29 Abercromby Pl. EH3 6QE
Ticket type
Price

Club Member
£0.00
General Admission
£0.00



 
Dining

Join us 

for Supper

The Abercromby Dining Room is open from 5:30 PM prior to each evening lecture. Join fellow members or come with friends and make a night of it. 1-Course supper for £15.

 

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

** Monday, 13th May: Holocaust Educational Trust – First Generation Survivor Francoise Robertson**

** Francoise Robertson**

Francoise was born in Brussels in September 1939. Her mother, a librarian, had travelled to Brussels to study and this is where she met Francoise’s father, who was a Belgian printer. They married in Birmingham, England but returned to Brussels in time for Francoise’s birth.

When Francoise was eight months old, the Second World War broke out. Francoise’s father was a member of the Belgian Home Guard and went on duty. Francoise’s mother attempted to get some money from the bank in order to leave the country. Whilst she went out, she left her baby with her mother in-law, hiding in a cellar. Although there was much bombing on the way to and from the bank, Francoise’s mother managed to make the trip. She hoped to reach Birmingham, England in a few days, and she set off carrying baby Francoise and a hat box which contained milk bottles and a change of baby clothes, and some nappies.

They reached a port and looked to board a ship. Each time, she was turned back. No ships were available as they were utilised for military operations. In the meantime, the bombings continued overhead, causing many casualties. At one point, terrified by the German bombers, Francoise’s mother placed her baby in a hedge by a road, hoping a stranger would find the baby. She later came back to retreive her.

Francoise and her mother boarded a ship for England, a journey which took five and a half weeks. This ship took only mothers, babies and pregnant women. When she arrived in the UK, she was hailed as a great herorine and mentioned in the papers.

During this time, Francoise’s father’s Home Guard was absorbed into the Belgian Army, and after this was descimated, it was later absorbed into the French Army. He was later captured by the Nazis and held in a Prisoner of War camp. On a whim, he went to talk to a German guard at the edge of a field. He managed to make an escape and fled to Marseilles with another man whom he met. They stole a rowing boat and rowed out to a larger ship. As they approached, the two men heard German voices on board and so they retreated. As a Jew in hiding, he did not know who to trust and he was often hungry. It took him over a year to reach Britain, but when he did, he became a pilot in the Royal Air Force.

In Britain, Francoise’s grandmother was part of a group which cared for Jewish refugees. There were regular ‘short-term’ visitors who vanished as quickly as they arrived and were passed to other safe houses. The family later found out that the Nazis knew about her grandmother’s activities and was on a list of British citizens to be killed in the event of an invasion of England. There was a lot of bombing in Britain and the family often spent nights in the cellar but lucikly the house was not hit and the family survived the war.

** Glossary**

** Home Guard** – A volunteer force used for meeting local emergencies when the regular armed forces are needed elsewhere. In wartime they were also considered the country’s last line of defence should they be invaded by the enemy in their homeland.

** Prisoner of War –** A prisoner who has been captured and interned by the enemy during a war.

 
 

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CAPTAIN’S TABLE

MAY

Friday, 3rd May 

12:30 – 14:30


 
 

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