Larry's Story

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Larry explains how his parents came to Northern Ireland:

My mother was from Vienna, she was called Julie Fauer.  My father was called Joseph Kitzler.  They met in Vienna.  My father was really Polish but he was studying in Vienna.  He was studying in the field of food chemistry.  That was what he later became when he arrived in Northern Ireland.  My mother was a kindergarten teacher and they met in Vienna.  They somehow had the wit and ability to escape the Nazis who were invading Austria. 

I think it was when the war had just started and they somehow were able to get themselves out of the country, the two of them.  The rest of my mother’s family all went to Israel and she never saw any of them again.

  • Find Poland, Austria and Vienna on a map of Europe
  • What is a Kindergarten teacher?
  • Why do you think it took “wit” and “ability”, as Larry describes it, to escape from the Nazis?
  •  Describe how Larry’s mother might feel about her separation from her family?

My mother and father then found their way to Northern Ireland somehow, I don’t really know the details, quite frankly, but there was a Belfast Jewish community. 

The two of them (Larry’s parents) were obviously totally traumatised about what had happened to their families during the war.  So although they got married and they had me and lived in various addresses but obviously there was no way they were going to have a happy married life.  The war was on, they had lost their families and goodness knows what was going through their heads and what they must have been thinking about.   Eventually they decided to split up and they got divorced, would you believe.

Larry had been born in 1941, before his parent’s divorced. His mother did not know what to do. She had been told of the Jewish Refugee farm near Millisle and moved to it with the young Larry. Larry describes his memories of the farm.

So my mother and I lived in a wee tiny dormitory or room in Ballyrolly House.  They had made living accommodation for the refugees there.  We had a wee room just to ourselves.  I was the youngest by far on the farm.  The rest of the kids were teenagers.  So I had nobody really of my own age to play with but it didn’t really bother me.  I wasn’t used to anything else that was how I grew up.  I grew up thinking that was the normal way to grow up, on my own.

  • What was unusual about the way Larry grew up?

One of Larry’s earliest memories is of being in a pram close to the entrance of the farm:

I have a memory of being a baby in a pram actually at the top of the lane.  The address is Woburn corner - the Woburn corner of Millisle, which was well known years ago as part of the course of the Carrowdore 100 motorcycle race.  At the front of the Woburn corner there is a long lane which takes you up to the farm, the refugee farm.

The first photo in the Gallery is a photo of Larry (aged 10) and his mother. The second photo in the Gallery is a photo of the farm and lane taken in 2007 by Marilyn Taylor.

To do

  • Watch the Millisle  Primary School DVD : A Kinder Place,A Different World, where you will see the lane leading to the farm
  • Can you imagine Larry in his pram at the top of the lane?

 Gert Jacobowitz, another of the refugee children, recalled Larry as the young baby of the farm. He recalled that

 “They had big long wooden huts and they slept in the dormitories and he remembers boys running through the sleeping quarters shouting “Shhh, shhh, Larry’s sleeping” and waking the baby up.”

Another vivid memory for Larry was being trapped in one of the hen coops on the farm :

I remember going in the hen house, climbing into it and of course not being able to get out again.  They were looking for me and I remember it was dark before they found me but it was safe enough.  They found me eventually. 

In this section Larry recalls his first attempt at going to school. The unusual circumstances of his upbringing led to some difficulty in settling in:

And at five years old they decided to send me to Millisle School but as I was explaining I was never with children of my own age.  So they sat me down in the class with 20 other children of my own age and I just cried the whole day.  And they kept me back for a year and sent me back to school when I was six.

Larry left the farm when he was six years old.

  • What are some of your earliest memories?
  • What do you think causes us to remember these things?

Larry and his mother were some of the few refugees to stay in the area. Larry grew up, attended Regent House Grammar school, Newtownards and had a successful career in the Civil Service. He is retired and lives in Donaghadee. The third photo in the gallery is a recent photo of Larry at his home, taken shortly before he passed away on 1 December 2014.

Larry's Story - Part 1

Larry's Story - Part 2

  • Larry and his mother
  • Larry Kitzler at his home in Donaghadee in 2014
  • The lane in the farm, 2007