Herman Hirschberger given MBE in Queen's New Year honours list

Herman Hirschberger at a Holocaust Memorial Day event with pupils from Bentley Wood High School.

Herman Hirschberger at a Holocaust Memorial Day event with pupils from Bentley Wood High School.

First published in News Harrow Times: Photograph of the Author by

A STANMORE holocaust survivor on the New Year honours list says fighting for justice for Jewish refugees was the “best job I've ever done”.

Hermann Hirschberger, of Beverley Gardens, Stanmore, won a 14-year battle to secure compensation pensions for Kindertransport evacuees from the German government.

He will be given an MBE by the Queen for services to the Jewish community and the Kindertransport evacuees.

He said: “I was very proud when I found out and I felt it was nice to be appreciated. What I got it for is the best job I've ever done as a person.

“I fought against an injustice which was due to the German government not paying compensation which was owing to some of the people who came with Kindertransport and that fight took me 14 years.

“I think if you ask me, that was the best job I ever did because several hundred people benefited.”

Many Jewish children were saved from the Nazis on trains, known as Kindertransport, run from Germany and surrounding countries to Britain in specially organised rescue missions.

Mr Hirschberger himself escaped on one of them but, like many spared Nazi persecution in this way, he never saw his parents again and discovered only later that they had been killed at Auschwitz.

The European Court of Justice decided in 1990 Kindertransport refugees should be entitled to compensation pensions from the German government but Mr Hirschberger had to battle for years to ensure they got what they were owed.

The German government initially stated that a European law meant the former evacuees could not receive pensions from both the British and German governments at the same time.

It was only through years of lobbying, including hundreds of phone calls and dozens of letters to civil servants and ministers, that Mr Hirschberger convinced the then pensions minister Michael O'Brien to pursue a change in the law.

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