“If Muriel had said, ‘I am sorry, my father says no,’ I would have stayed in Vienna and they would have killed me.”
Muriel, my sister, corresponded with a pen pal from Austria, Edith Muhlbauer. Edith was 17 years old in 1938 when the Germans crossed the border and occupied Austria. That same year in November on Kristallnacht all but one of Vienna’s synagogues were burned to the ground by mobs, 8000 Jews were arrested and 5000 were sent to Dachau.
The Muhlbauer family lived in an area of Vienna where many Jewish professionals lived. As the situation with the Nazis grew worse Edith wrote to my sister and asked if she could come live with my family. We did not have the money but my father asked members of his Rotary club for the money to bring Edith to England. They also agreed to provide money for her needs and to share hosting in their homes.
Edith arrived at our home in April of 1939 bringing 2 red handbags as gifts, one for my sister and one for me. Our home was very small, didn’t have a proper bathroom. She was accustomed to much nicer accommodations in Vienna and she was very careful with her wonderful wardrobe. I remember Edith would not go for a walk in the countryside because it would ruin her shoes.
Our father was concerned that this worldly girl from Vienna would lead Muriel and me astray while Edith felt our puritanical lifestyle here in England revolving around church and work was repressive. She was tall and beautiful with dark, styled hair and she wore lipstick.
I was brought up Methodist. Methodism means method. It means sticking to your guns, dedication, triumph over adversity, reverence for education – the very qualities Jews have always cherished.
MARGARET THATCHER, the Iron Lady, sister of Muriel, friend of Edith, served as prime Minister of England from 1979 – 1990
“When people ask, ‘What can one person do?’ Thatcher responded, ‘That is the question that people so often ask. Never hesitate to do whatever you can, for you may save a life.’
written in 1st person narrative by larrypaulbrown from information credited to the following sources:
Sources: Robert Philpot, “How Margaret Thatcher’s family sheltered an Austrian Jew during the Holocaust,” (June 29, 2017);
Robert Philpot, Margaret Thatcher The Honorary Jew: How Britain’s Jews Helped Shape the Iron Lady and Her Beliefs, Biteback Publishing, (June 29, 2017).