OS remembered in new Imperial War Museum Holocaust Exhibition
We mark Holocaust Memorial Day by remembering those lost and reflecting upon the impact it had upon members of our own College community. We recently shared information about OS Klaus Schiller (GH,SH,38-41) and his family and their 1938 correspondence recently shared with the College. Correspondence received by Klaus before his family were safely able to leave Austria six months later and join him in the UK and escape the horrors that were to face their home nation in the coming months and years of World World Two.
We are also humbled to share that a cherished overcoat gifted to OS Professor Otto Hutter (SHb,39-42) in late 1938 by his Father is incorporated within a poignant display in the recently opened Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London. The story of how Otto came to England and as a result surviving the Holocaust, protected for generations to come.
In the aftermath of the devastating events of Kristallnacht in November 1938, the ‘Night of Broken Glass’, which saw the unleashing of Nazi pogroms against the Jewish population of Austria and the overnight destruction of Jewish businesses, Synagogues and homes, with 30,000 Jewish men rounded up and sent to concentration camp a 14 year old boy made an instant decision which changed his life and the history of the College and Old Stortfordian Community forever.
On Sunday 4th December 1938, on his way home from the park and without checking with his parents first, Otto Hutter went to Hotel Metropole in Vienna and signed himself up as no. 359– out of 360 Kindertransport children on this day. Otto felt eternal gratitude to have been included within the first Kindertransportations as the initial evacuations went without needing guarantors and favoured older boys such as himself as they would soon be too old to be included.
Upon arrival in England he was fostered by the Essex family of OS A Blaxill (SHa, 13-17) who rallied fellow Old Stortfordians for financial support to pay the fees for Otto to receive a full boarding College education. The call out to OS was ‘What can Stortford do?’ the response was swiftly met by a small group of OS who fully funded Otto’s education at their own cost. Otto thrived and excelled at the College, especially in biology and chemistry and enjoyed spending the holidays with the Blaxill family and in the homes of some of his College friends.
Otto’s Father’s wish was that he would continue his education after leaving Austria, a wish that Otto fulfilled many times over. Otto left the College in 1942 to work within research laboratories in Beckenham, Kent. After the war he went to University College London where he became a pioneering Professor of Physiology, undertaking key cardiac research which amongst other things, enabled the creation of the first pacemakers. Later he won a Rockefeller Travelling Fellowship and lived with his family in the USA. Upon returning to the UK he continued his career as Emeritus Professor at Glasgow University. He retired very late in life but continued his love of education by conducting in depth research into the Kindertransport programme and more widely into the Holocaust and always remained a very active member of the wider Jewish community in Bournemouth.
We were hugely honoured to welcome Prof Hutter to the College in June 2018 where he eloquently addressed the L6th about his time at the College and his family experience of the Second World War. To mark the 80th Anniversary of his relationship with the College Otto donated and helped to plant an oak tree which takes pride of place on the edge of Middle Green. He also donated a number of reference books to the library for the use and enjoyment of pupils and staff alike.
Following the death of his wife of 70 years in late 2018, Otto moved to Israel and is believed to be one of the oldest British Citizens to gain Israeli citizenship – a lifelong dream realised for him. He returned to the UK in early 2020 and lived a full life, living independently but with support and taking great joy in his large family (including 11 Grandchildren and 27 Great Grandchildren). He also spent hours tending his garden and continued his research into the Holocaust and Kindertransport. Otto passed away in November 2020 after a short decline in health at the age of 96.
Otto lost both his Parents in 1943 and he was forever grateful for all that the Blaxill family and the College did to help him lead the fulfilling life he did. Aftre living a fulfilling life he deemed himself to be very ‘lucky indeed’ and we consider Professor Hutter and the Blaxill family who supported to be an inspiration to us all within the College Community.
We encouarge the Stortfordian Community to visit the new permanent World War 2 and Holocaust exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum in London, they vividly tell the story of those affected and touched by the war between the lat 1930's and the declaration of peace in 1945. It is humbling for us all to see Otto's treasured overcoat taking pride of place within the Kindertransport display and to know of the incredible life he lived after starting his journey at Bishop's Stortford College.
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