Bob describes his new family, the Mackenzies, and their efforts to get his parents out of Germany.

Mr Mackenzie’s house consisted of the main house and a small attached cottage. The Mackenzie family were made up of Granny Mackenzie, Mr Mackenzie (a widower) and three daughters; Agnes, Janet and Jessie. The family lived in the big house and my sister and I were accommodated in the cottage with either Janet or Jessie living in it to look after us. We settled in very quickly and were treated as part of the family. Agnes was a nurse in the hospital in Elgin and Janet and Jessie looked after the house. Though my sister and I did not speak English we managed, with the help of a dictionary, to understand the basics. On the other hand if we were told to do something which we did not want to do we were very adept at saying, “Me no speak English”.


As we settled in and began to learn more and more of the language we discovered this ploy did not work so well. We wrote letters to our parents and got letters back. My mother was using a dictionary to write to the Mackenzie family and we kept in touch until the war broke out. It was only years later, when we were older, that we discovered that correspondence had been passing between Mr Mackenzie, The Refugee Movement and The Home Office to try and get our parents out of Germany to join us. Unfortunately the formalities had not been completed by the time war broke out in September 1939. Many years later, when the correspondence between Mr Mackenzie, The Refugee Movement and The Home Office was passed to me for safekeeping, I discovered some nameless civil servant in The Home Office had kept the documentation on his desk for seven weeks before applying.


I often wonder if that seven weeks could have made the difference between my parents joining us over here and remaining in Germany all through the war.

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