A poignant meeting
Jo Roundell Greene will be known to readers of The Leveller and LevellerLive as a South Somerset District Councillor for St Michael’s ward. What is perhaps less well known is she is Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s granddaughter.
Today at the Houses of Parliament Jo Roundell Greene was introduced to 90-year-old Paul Willer, who as a 10-year-old boy fled Germany with his family in 1939. He was initially taken in by Clement Atlee, then leader of the opposition. The pair stood in front of a plaque that commemorated the humanitarian effort that saved his life. 80 years ago the UK decided to create the Kindertransport, a programme that rescued 10,000 mainly Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.
Mr Willer stayed with the Attlees for four months before the war, and said he felt loved by the family, but had to get used to having cold baths. Mrs Roundell Greene, who only learnt of Mr Willer’s existence a few months ago, said: “I feel like I have got a new bit of my family – and I think we’re going to remain friends. Both described their meeting as “an overwhelming experience”. Mr Willer, who lives in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, said he and Mrs Roundell Greene had hugged many times.
The pair were brought together at the House of Commons by the Association of Jewish Refugees, which organised a poignant event at Speaker’s House to mark the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, with MPs and parliamentarians narrating excerpts from the debate that led to its creation.
Information provided by Mark Duffy / UK Parliament