Marie Lewy-Lingen was born on 15 July 1892, the youngest of four children born to Albert Fraenkel and his wife Gertrud, one of Samuel Strassmann’s daughters. Her father had emigrated from Poland along with his brothers to improve his medical training. Like his brothers, he became a doctor. Marie was baptized a Protestant.
She married Dr Richard Lewy, a fully qualified lawyer.
In 1920, on 8 February, the couple’s son Gerhart Walter was born. In 1921, on 25 February, their daughter was born, whom they named Klara Marianne Margarete Hedwig.
When they registered the birth of their son, they also assumed the additional name Lingen in the hope that it would protect them against anti-Semitism.
In the 1930s, the children were baptized Protestant in another step to defend the family against anti-Semitism. In 1938/39, when the severity of the threat to everyone classified as Jewish by the Nazis had become apparent, Marie Lewy-Lingen and her husband made the very difficult decision to send their two young children to England. In early 1939, the children went to live with a relative of Dr Richard Lewy-Lingen. Their parents also applied to emigrate and hoped to see them again soon.
But Mr and Mrs Lewy-Lingen’s plans to join their children in England were frustrated by the emigration ban imposed in September 1941. In late 1941, Mr and Mrs Lewy-Lingen were forced to move into the area around Bayerischer Platz. This had been turned into a kind of ghetto, where an increasing number of people were forcibly housed, and steadily stripped of their rights, in preparation for deportation. In October 1942, Marie evaded the final steps of deportation and murder that the Nazis had planned for her. Together with her husband, she ended her own life.
Their two children, Walter and Marianne Lewy-Lingen, probably found out about the death of their parents in Germany in late 1942. Messages were exchanged via Switzerland. Walter (born in 1920) studied chemistry in England. Later he joined the British army under the name Walter Landon. In 1944, he was a member of the 1st British Airborne Division, deployed in the famous Operation Market Garden in Arnhem, Holland, during the British Normandy Landing. It was a small unit set against a powerful opponent. Walter was a hulk of a man who was very popular with his comrades. He died in action during a courageous campaign on 20 September 1944.
His sister Marianne, who was one year younger than him, also served in the British forces during the war, in the women’s branch of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. After the war, she studied mathematics. She lived outside Birmingham all her adult life, close to younger relatives, and so with family nearby. Here, she taught maths in various schools and played an active role in the Birchfield Harriers sports club for many years. Popular and involved in the club to the last, she died in January 2009.