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Holocaust survivor, 98, shares story with pupils at station where he arrived

Henry Wuga met pupils from Shawlands Academy (Poppyscotland/PA)
Henry Wuga met pupils from Shawlands Academy (Poppyscotland/PA)

A Holocaust survivor returned to the train station where he first arrived in Scotland after escaping Nazi Germany to share his story with secondary school pupils.

Henry Wuga, 98, joined Poppyscotland and Gathering the Voices to help launch new lessons for Scottish schools, based on his story and that of other young refugees during the Second World War.

Mr Wuga escaped Nazi Germany in 1939, aged just 15, leaving his parents behind in Nuremberg, and went to Glasgow on the Kindertransport.

The Jewish refugee made Scotland his home, marrying Ingrid, who also escaped via the Kindertransport, and managing his own catering business.

Henry Wuga
Henry Wuga escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport (Poppyscotland/PA)

In the new learning programme, pupils will be encouraged to reflect on the stories of people like Mr Wuga, and on the issues facing more recent child refugees, including Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country today.

Mr Wuga met ten S2 pupils from Shawlands Academy under the clock at Central Station in Glasgow, where he first arrived in Scotland.

After the visit on Friday he said: “It was very interesting meeting the pupils and answering their questions. I think it’s so important to share my story with a new generation while I can.

“When I first arrived here 83 years ago it was a shock – I didn’t speak the language well, the food and customs were new.

“But Glasgow was very welcoming and I made it my home.”

The only son of successful caterers, Mr Wuga enjoyed a happy childhood before the Nazis came to power.

Then he witnessed growing antisemitism, from bullying at school to the horrors of Kristallnacht in 1938, when Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were attacked.

As tensions increased, his mother secured him a place on the Kindertransport, an international humanitarian programme that took about 10,000 children to Britain in the months leading up to the outbreak of war.

In Glasgow Mr Wuga attended school and worked on a farm in Perthshire before being wrongly accused of espionage after writing letters to his parents in Germany.

However his name was cleared and, after the war ended, he returned to Glasgow, where he took a job as a chef.

Mr Wuga’s father died of a heart attack during an air raid in 1941, but he was able to bring his mother, who had survived the war thanks to the help of a Catholic neighbour, to Scotland.

His wife, Ingrid, also lost many close relatives and friends in the Holocaust.

Gordon Michie, Poppyscotland’s head of fundraising and learning, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Mr Wuga for supporting us and sharing his harrowing story with a new generation of Scottish children.

“His first-hand testimony is an important addition to our learning programme and will encourage young young people to reflect on issues that are all too relevant today.

“Sadly, millions of children throughout the world continue to be uprooted from their homes, escaping war, persecution, and poverty.

“We hope this will promote a wider understanding of refugees’ experiences, then and now, the challenges they face when arriving in Scotland.”

The Gathering the Voices Association  is a project to record audio and video testimonies from Holocaust refugees who have a connection to Scotland, and educate current and future generations about their resilience.

It is made up of three second-generation refugees and their partners, who have collected more than 50 interviews which are freely available at www.gatheringthevoices.com.

Dr Angela Shapiro, from the Gathering the Voices Association, said: “We hope that by focusing on the stories of Mr Wuga and other young refugees, this will help bring the lessons to life.”

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