Kurt was born in Vienna in 1937 and has no memories of a happy life before the Anschluss. After trying in vain to get a visa to leave Austria, Kurt’s uncle Ernest managed to get passage for seven members of the family to sail to Shanghai. They were among the last Jewish refugees to leave in this way; their boat departed on 2 August 1939. Kurt and his family spent the entire war in Shanghai, living in relative safety. The family were finally able to get to England in 1948, one of few families who came to the UK from Shanghai. Kurt and his brother Sigmund founded Mondaine Handbags and would go on to make a Mappin & Webb handbag for Queen Elizabeth II.
It was a miracle we heard about the Jews going from Italy to Shanghai, and we went by default because the rest of the world was closed to us. We made a little Vienna there, cut off from the horrors of Europe. It was pretty safe for us, as long as we didn’t annoy the Japanese.
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