Ilse Beres

Ilse Beres

Ilse Beres was the only daughter of Rosa and Max Beres. She was born in 1924 in Vienna, where she lived until 1938.

But this story starts much earlier, in 1890 when Rosa and Max, as Jews, fled their home in Ukraine to escape from the pogroms that were very prevalent at the time. Their journey took them west to Vienna where they had a happy and full life, integrating into Viennese culture. Max fought for the Austro-Hungarian empire in the First World War. They were patriotic Austrians, and they enjoyed many cultural and social activities in the thriving City of Vienna which they had made their home. They thought they had escaped from anti- semitic persecution by moving to Austria

In December 1924, their old child, Ilse, was born.

The Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Germany) in 1938 meant that all the anti-Jewish laws that had already been implemented by the Nazis in Germany, became law in Austria overnight.

Martin, Ilse’s only son tells how these laws and the release of antisemitism, which followed, impacted so horrendously on his mother and grandparents.

However, this is not just the story of the awful fate that my Max and Rosa suffered, being humiliated, persecuted and then murdered by the Nazis, it is also a story of Ilse’s escape from Nazi Europe on the Kindertransport to England, aged just 13. Very personal letters which Ilse treasured for the rest of her life are then used to explore the changing relationship between a teenage daughter in England with her persecuted parents in Austria.