Gloucestershire

Jewish refugee sheltered by Clement Attlee meets granddaughter

Jo Roundell Greene (left), Paul Willer (centre) and Earl Attlee (right) Image copyright PA
Image caption Paul Willer (centre) was a Jewish refugee who escaped Germany in 1939

A refugee sheltered by Clement Attlee as a child when his family fled Nazi Germany has met the former Prime Minister's granddaughter for the first time.

Paul Willer, now 90, secretly lived with the then Labour leader at his home in Stanmore for four months in 1939.

He said he and Jo Roundell-Greene "hugged many times" upon meeting.

Mrs Roundell-Greene only learnt of his existence a few months ago but said she felt "great warmth" towards him.

Mr Willer, who lives in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, described their meeting as an "overwhelming experience" and recalled Mr Attlee as "a very gentle fatherly figure who exuded goodwill to all us children all the time."

The pair met ahead of an event in the Houses of Parliament, organised by the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), to mark the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport which saved thousands of children who were escaping from the Nazis.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Paul Willer said the day has been an "emotional" experience

Mr Willer, who was just 10 when he was taken in by the then opposition leader in 1939, said: "The whole day has been emotional."

Mrs Roundell-Greene, a Liberal Democrat councillor from Crewkerne, Somerset, added: "We are both absolutely delighted to have met each other. It has been a very special day."

Mr Attlee had sponsored a Jewish mother and her two children so they could move to the UK from Germany in 1939, but never went public with what he had done.

Mr Willer recalls arriving on Easter Sunday and said he felt "loved" by Mr Attlee, his wife Violet and their four children.

Mrs Roundell-Greene said: "There was a young boy who needed somewhere to stay.

"They had a big house and lots of children, and one more was something they wanted to do.

"They welcomed him and he said they loved him."

Her mother Felicity helped Mr Willer, who could not speak English, communicate with the rest of the family as they both had learned some Latin at school.

Mrs Roundell-Greene said: "He said he was very fond of my mother Felicity.

"I feel a great warmth towards him and I had not met him before today."

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites