The story of the Windermere Refugee Hostel told in Kino and Kinder
The scion of a Jewish family forced to flee to Windermere during World War II has written a book about her ancestors’ experiences as refugees seeking solace from the clutches of a European tyrant.
Vivian Sieber released “Kino and Kinder”, the story of Vivian’s grandmother, Paula Sieber, who owned a cinema in Vienna before she was forced to flee Austria in 1938 due to persecution of the Jewish people by Hitler.
Paula sent her son Peter to safety in England before fleeing as a penniless refugee and became the second matron of a girls’ hostel initially set up in Newcastle, then moved to Windermere when Hitler began bombing English cities.
Vivian said the plight of refugees was now tragically relevant due to the war in Ukraine and her research, based on contemporary correspondence and archival research, showed the positive experiences of girls in Windermere.
“He was based in South Wood, Ambleside Road,” she said.
“Kino and Kinder have many quotes from the girls themselves (as adults) about their experience of leaving their parents and living in the hostel.
“The girls describe their move to the Lake District, to a school in Windermere and are particularly kind about how they were helped by some of the teachers.
“The book arrived a bit by accident. In 1999, my father Peter contacted the women staying at the hostel to ask them questions about their lives.
“Many responded with poignant memories of leaving their parents as young children, of their journey, their adjustment to life in the hostel and their subsequent lives.
“When Peter died in 2000 with his investigative notes and hostel report, I found this battered briefcase from my grandmothers full of letters (mostly between Peter and his mother Paula) and photographs with his war diaries.
“After a visit to Vienna in 2019, the apartment they lived in until they were forced to flee the Nazis and their cinema (now a Spar) and through the archives, I started to piece together this happened to family members back home and at the movies.
“So a few useless questions became a quest and my first book.”
To visit: www.viviensieber.eu/kino-and-kinder