Meet the Kindertransport refugee who fled the Nazis and turbo-charged mankind’s journey into outer space

Posted on June 18, 2023

After Kindertransport refugee Ben Abeles arrived in the UK from Prague aged 14, his father wrote to him begging him to get a good education so he would “count for somebody”.

More letters followed but within a year and a half, they dried up: both his father and mother were murdered in a Nazi death camp in Poland.

But Abeles turned his father’s words into a remarkable reality. He went on to become a pioneering scientist whose research into alloys changed space exploration. Now, a trove of documents belonging to Abeles — including the missive containing that plea to study “until your precious head hurts” — has been donated by his widow, Helen, to the University of Southampton, home to one of the largest Jewish archives in western Europe.

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