Leeds & West Yorkshire

Yorkshire businessman sheltered Jewish family who fled Nazis

The Schrotter family with Eric (L) and on their Wedding day Image copyright Leeds City Council
Image caption The Schrotters, with Eric in front, and on their wedding day in Vienna

The descendants of a Jewish family who fled the Nazis from Vienna to Leeds are searching for information about the businessman who sheltered them.

The Schrotters - father Siegfried, mother Hedwig and son Eric - were forced to leave their family home in the Austrian capital in 1938.

They were sheltered by Philip Boyle when they arrived in Leeds.

Harriet Stevens, Eric's daughter, is now searching for any of businessman Mr Boyle's surviving family.

Ms Stevens, 61, from Bristol, said: "My grandfather fled Vienna after Kristallnacht in November 1938, when he saw the rounding up of Jews and was forced to hide in a wardrobe while the family home was being ransacked.

"He was a very quiet and reserved man for the rest of his days and his traumatic experiences definitely left a mark on him."

Image copyright Leeds City Council
Image caption Siegfried Schrotter moved to Leeds just before the outbreak of World War Two

Mr Boyle, a partner in the Boyle and Son hemp company, rescued the Schrotters from almost certain imprisonment and death.

Siegfried Schrotter, who was a hemp company representative, fled to Switzerland and was eventually reunited with his wife and Eric, who was then aged six.

With Europe on the brink of what became World War Two and persecution of Jews escalating the Schrotters had been searching for a way to escape.

The family lived in Mr Boyle's house in Linton, near Wetherby, after reaching England.

It is thought Mr Boyle's intervention also saved two other Jews.

Ms Stevens said: "All but one of my grandmother's five siblings were murdered in the Holocaust and my sisters and I would love to find any living relatives of Philip Boyle to thank him through them for saving my family's lives."

The Schrotters' story is to form part of an exhibition, starting in July, about immigrants from across the world who made a new life in Leeds.

Image copyright Leeds City Council
Image caption Harriet Stevens and her sisters Jessica Russell and Rachel Stevens with a picture of their grandparents' wedding

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