A Kindertransport violinist is laid to rest

A Kindertransport violinist is laid to rest


norman lebrecht

October 21, 2016

Fred was not exactly a prodigy.

Like many Jewish kids in Vienna, he played the violin. Put on a train to England in February 1939, just eight years old, he carried a small suitcase and a violin. Taken in by a family in Hull, he gave a public recital in the town hall in gratitude for his rescue.

The violin was his living link to a threatened past, how threatened he could not know.

After the War, he discovered that his entire extended family had been murdered – father, mother, brother, uncles, aunts, cousins – all of them once engaged in running a large restaurant in the second district, all now extinct.

Fred gave up the violin, went to Oxford, started a family. In his 50s, he took up the violin, learning to play the Franck sonata in remembrance of all that had been lost.

We laid Fred Barschak to rest today. He was 86. Bless his memory.

Here‘s an article he wrote on the Kindertransport that saved his life.




  • Robert Holmén says:

    Very interesting to read his comment that Germany was somehow still holding back from full-tilt antisemitism in 1939, while their new territory of Austria was not.

  • Sue says:

    I still find this distressing reading, nearly 80 years later!! It’s barely believable that the beautiful Vienna which I called home for a year in 2011 was one and the same described here. Yet, I’m told, the Viennese remain anti-semitic to this day (I saw no evidence of it myself).

    We had dinner with a friend and her mother; the latter had worked in the theatre in Vienna. She was complaining to use that “they dropped bombs on Stephansdom”. I kept my mouth shut thinking that if she didn’t know what was happening in the rest of the world at the hands of Austria it was not me who was going to spoil that illusion for an ailing 80 year old!!

  • Marg says:

    Thankyou for posting this heartfelt piece. All these years later it is so distressing to think about the huge loss to our civilisation with the murder of so many Jews. It is also a sombre reminder to keep an open heart during the current refugee crisis around the world.

  • Tamara Barschak says:

    My father was actually one of the star pupils in Vienna of one of the greatest concert violinists of the time Ella Herschmann. He performed in the musikverein (the equivalent of the Albert Hall) in Vienna just before he turned 7. Ella Herschmann was extremely concerned that Fred should continue his music education in England because she felt he was extremely gifted. If you are going to write about my father as a musician you should have done more research