Holocaust survivor George Shefi retraces escape 85 years on

Posted on November 8, 2023

A crowd of 50 or 60 people jeer as a Jewish shopkeeper tries to scrub antisemitic graffiti off the pavement.

Hats and broken glass are strewn all over the road in front of a destroyed Jewish-owned hat shop.

This is what six-year-old George Shefi sees outside his Berlin apartment building after the Nazi pogroms of November 1938.

“I see still the picture in my mind, all the hats, and the glass, as if it was yesterday,” says George, who is now 92 years old and lives in Israel.

He fled Nazi Germany as a small child without his parents. He was one of about 10,000 mostly Jewish children evacuated to the UK after the attacks, in what became known as the British Kindertransport programme.

George has now come back to Berlin, in time for the 85th anniversary of the pogroms, to retrace his childhood journey of escape from Nazi Germany.

He remembers the smashed shops outside his home on Hauptstrasse in the Berlin district of Schöneberg, and being told not to go outside for a few days after the pogroms. He was shocked when he found out that his school, which was attached to a synagogue, had been burned to the ground.

But he didn’t know this was happening across Germany. And he didn’t realise that his life was about to change forever.

George Shefi as a young boy
George Shefi was a young boy living in Berlin when the pogroms began
George Shefi and his family in Berlin
Each time George (far left) returns to Berlin, he makes sure to take a photo on the same steps with his extended family

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