Page 5 - HGS Suburb News 147 - September2021
P. 5

S U B U R B
          PEOPLE







    From Przemysl to the                                                          An


                                                                                  interview
    Suburb (via The Hotel Adlon)
                                                         move to Bedfordshire and worked with

    ANDREW BOTTERILL
                                                         on a farm and in a sweet factory –
                                                         not such enjoyable experiences.
         ehind the well-mannered                         Returning to London in 1942, Amanda
         front doors of quiet Suburb
    Bhouses there are stories to                         after a course in nursery education
    be told and the sweep of history                     she opened her own nursery Weinberg
                                                         (housed in the Royal Academy),
    is often so close. In the sunny                                                                           Photo: Julian Weinberg
    garden of one such house in July,                    school in Holland Park.
    Nurith Weil was sitting surrounded                      The year before, she had met  ELEANOR LEVY       a thriving community, with a
    by the longstanding Italian class                    the charismatic Harry Weil. Harry,                  mikvah and a yeshiva. Amanda,
    she belonged to. They had brought                    a Czech, had managed to escape  recently spoke to Amanda  who knows the village well, tells
    a cake to celebrate her100th                         to England by the skin of his teeth  Weinberg about herself and  me her favourite place is the cave
    birthday. She had been with her                      in late 1939 via Poland, Sweden I her debut novel ‘The Tears  which still contains the oven
    Italian teacher and later good                       and Norway. An action-packed  of Monterini’, which is an  which was used as a bakery for
    friend, the inimitable Clara Caleo                   story of chance and hardship,  historical novel set in a small  ‘forno delle azzime’. That’s matzo
    Green, since 1962.                                   danger and courage. Whilst at a  Tuscan community.  to you and me!
       How she escaped the Holocaust                     concert, Nurith wondered who the  It follows Bella and Rico who  In the book, Villa Sophia, a
    (the only one in her family to do so)                handsome cellist was. Night  are born into neighbouring  disused monastery, is used to
    and made a new life exemplifies                      follows day and they married on  families on the same day in 1921.  house and hide Jewish and other
    the resilience and energy of youth                   April 13th 1943.          Bella’s Jewish background and  war-time orphans. Amanda
    – focussing on the present and                          They spoke English together  Rico’s Catholic heritage reflect the  skillfully weaves this real wartime
    the future with positivity and good                  but their German accents did  dual make-up of their village, but  component into her novel. In so
    humour. She was born Berta                           once create a minor incident. On  the dark forces of the 1930s and  doing, she pays tribute to the
    Samuely in Przemysl in present                       honeymoon in Bournemouth,  1940s profoundly affect Monterini  actual occupants and their
    day Poland near the Ukrainian                        Harry suggested a quick dip in the  and its inhabitants.  protectors’ hazardous daily lives.
    border, the family speaking                          sea. A passing policeman, hearing  This beautifully written story  “In reality the monastery was
    German, her father in the leather  Nurith Weil celebrates her 100th  the accented German, arrested  takes the reader on a tumultuous  called Villa Emma. From July 1942
    business. In the early 1920s, the  birthday (Photo: Sally Botterill)  them as German spies just landed,  journey through the fascist years  to September 1943 about 70
    family moved to Berlin. ‘From the                    Harry still in his underpants. They  and beyond. It is a tale of love,  children lived there, cared for by
    frying pan into the fire in anti-  everyone and Adolf Hitler walked  were soon released however.  betrayal, human frailty and kindness.  partisans, who eventually helped
    semitism terms’ she remarked  out of the hotel right in front of  ‘Dad’s Army’ surely wouldn’t have  I asked Amanda about her  them to escape over the border
    drily. Distant schooldays recalled  her, just a few feet away. A chilling  accepted that script.  own background. She was born  to Switzerland.”
    with the sharpness of age. Good  memory that’s stayed with her.  Married life was a dream. They  and educated in Woodford, and  I asked Amanda about the
    times and not so bad times. An  In 1939, at 17 and now too  lived in a succession of digs and  went on to read French and  mystical Tanaquilla, who appears
    enforced move to a Jewish school.  old for Kindertransport evacuation,  rented rooms. Nurith continued  German at The University of East  fleetingly a few times in the novel.
    Awful singing teacher, another  with the help of the ‘Werkleute’ a  with her nursery work and Harry  Anglia. Amanda also speaks  “She is the spirit of the town
    who wept every time she read  leftwing Zionist movement she  with his reserved occupation of  Italian, has an avid interest in  through the ages, who now lives
    Goethe (so of course the kids  and two friends managed to get  precision engineering. After the end  European cultures, is an engaging  on as a mystical presence,
    clamoured for more readings of  out. First by train to Hamburg  of the war he went into business  communicator and is an obvious  reminding us how civilisations come
    Goethe). She shone at athletics,  thence by sea to Harwich. The  as an import/export agent.  people person.  and go yet their essence remains.”
    much to the dismay of local Nazis  dominant memory here was being  Summers were spent on walking  Monterini is the literary name  Amanda sees her book as ‘a
    because she overturned the  given whisky by the captain as a  holidays in the Lake District, Tyrol  she gives to Pitigliano, a medieval  love letter to Pitigliano’.
    official theory of Aryan athletic  cure for seasickness.  and the Dolomites.   village, built on an Etruscan
    supremacy in the same way Jesse  Once in England (and now  They bought a new house in  settlement. In the 16th century  The Tears of Monterini, Amanda
    Owens had the year before at the  renamed Nurith by her friends),  1955 in the northern reaches of  Jews fled to Pitigliano from the  Weinberg, Red Door Press 2020,
    1936 Berlin Olympics.      she lodged with a charming tailor  the Suburb. The first ‘piece of  surrounding Papal States and built  336p, ISBN: 978-1-91306-236-1.
       She told of a morning in the  and his family. Her job was  furniture’ purchased was a piano
    mid-1930s walking down Unter Den  running errands for the business  (still there in the house they never
    Linden outside the Hotel Adlon.  which was near the National  left). Harry accompanied Nurith
    Suddenly the police stopped  Gallery. Eventually she had to  singing Schubert as well as
                                                         continuing with the cello in a
                                                         string quartet. Two daughters,
                                                         Joanna and Monica, came along.
                                                         Schools were Brooklands followed
                                                         by Woodhouse and Henrietta
                                                         Barnett. Harry was the king of DIY
                                                         and a keen gardener, Nurith a
                                                         wonderful mother. The walking
                                                         holidays continued. Harry died in
                                                         2012 aged 100.
                                                            Nurith, whilst discussing her
                                                         story, was sitting by the French  We wish to purchase items of silver in any condition.
                                                         windows looking out onto the
                                                         sunlit garden Harry had created.  As a long standing resident of the Suburb, Gideon
                                                         Proud of her two daughters, three  Cohen is happy to view your silverware in your home
                                                         grandchildren and four great
                                                         grandchildren. Still in love with  and will make an offer to purchase, free of any obligation.
                                                         the Suburb and an ardent supporter
                                                         of everything British except, of      17 The London Silver Vaults
                                                         course, Brexit. Always interested,  53-64 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1QT
                                                         positive, self-deprecating and  020 7404 1425 | enquiries@gcohen.co.uk
                                                         humorous. Wholly without
                                                         bitterness and wearing her heritage     www.gcohen.co.uk
                                                         lightly. A clear inspiration to us all.
     On holiday in the Lake District in 1943
                                                         And not a bad Italian speaker either.
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