Holocaust Memorial Day event to take place in Wakefield this weekend in honour of German couple who escaped Nazi Germany

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A Wakefield church will host a special Holocaust Memorial Day event in honour of a German couple who lived in Wakefield after fleeing Nazi Germany.

The event, which is jointly organised by the Parkes Institute at the University of Southampton and St Helen’s Church, will be held at St Helen’s Church, on Barnsley Road on Sunday, January 28 from 2pm until 3.30pm.

The service will also welcome Charlie Knight, a Wolfson postgraduate scholar from the Parkes Institute at the University of Southampton, who will give a talk about Ernst and Gertrud Neustadt – a German couple who came to Wakefield following their escape from Nazi Germany.

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Ernst Moritz Neustadt was born on March 21,1883 in Charlottenburg, Berlin and studied at the Friedrich Wilhelm University – now the Humbolt University of Berlin.

St Helen's Church will host a special Holocaust Memorial event this weekend.St Helen's Church will host a special Holocaust Memorial event this weekend.
St Helen's Church will host a special Holocaust Memorial event this weekend.

An esteemed academic, Ernst eventually gained his PhD in 1906 before meeting, and marrying, Gertrud Sara Stadthagen in 1919.

As the Nazis took control of Germany, the respected academic began to utilise his connections within his academic circle, contacting friends of relatives and even the Archbishop of Canterbury, to escape the country.

Following various attempts to flee Germany in 1939, their eventual escape was supported by Kurt Hahn, his childhood friend, who appealed to the Home Office for a visa to work at Gordonstoun School in Scotland.

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After the school moved to Wales in the early 1942, Ernst and Gertrud Neustadt fell on hard times and moved to Wakefield.

WWII Jewish refugee Dr Ernst Neustadt took his life after being widowed and losing his job at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield(Photo supplied by Ms S. Endel and Mr M. Capellman to Charlie Knight).WWII Jewish refugee Dr Ernst Neustadt took his life after being widowed and losing his job at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield(Photo supplied by Ms S. Endel and Mr M. Capellman to Charlie Knight).
WWII Jewish refugee Dr Ernst Neustadt took his life after being widowed and losing his job at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield(Photo supplied by Ms S. Endel and Mr M. Capellman to Charlie Knight).

After the death of his wife in March 1942 and the redundancy from his new teaching position at Wakefield Grammar School, Ernst Neustadt died by suicide on April 25, 1942.

Charlie, a PhD scholar at the University of Southampton whose specialism is German-Jewish refugees in Great Britain and the Holocaust, focused on Ernst and Gertrud’s life in Great Britain for his Master’s research at the University of Exeter.

He undertook a crowdfunding mission to pay for a proper headstone for Ernst and Gertrud, as at that time Gertrud’s grave only had a small marker and Ernst’s grave was unmarked.

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As part of the event visitors will have the opportunity to visit Ernst and Gertrud’s grave, which is located in St Helen’s Church, to pay their respects.

Light refreshments will be provided and booking is not required.

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