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This audio clip is from an interview with Ernie Hunter, recorded by Imperial War Museums in February 2008. In the clip, Herman talks about the religious services at Gwrych Castle.

Herman Rothman – a short biography.

Herman Rothman was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1924 to Polish Jewish parents. He arrived in Britain as a refugee on the Kindertransport in August 1939 and went to the hachshara (agricultural training centre) at Gwrych Castle, Abergale. He later joined the British Army, serving in Western Europe, and was the first person to translate Hitler’s will after it was discovered hidden in the shoulder pad of a leading Nazi. He later became a lawyer in London.

About Gwrych Castle.

Between 1939 and 1941, Gwrych Castle in Abergele, Denbighshire, was the home to 200 Jewish refugee children who had fled from Nazi-occupied Europe. The castle was used as an agricultural training centre, set up by Zionist organisations, in preparation for youths to emigrate to the British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel). Youth Aliyah and Bachad were two of the organisations that sponsored some of the children who stayed here. Following Nazi persecution in Germany, approximately 20 of these training centres were created throughout Great Britain and Gwrych Castle would become the largest.

Use of the castle was offered for free by the owner, Lord Dundonald, since it was in a very poor condition. The amenities at the castle were restricted due to most of the rooms being unfit to live in. Religious studies and agricultural work kept the children busy but sports, outdoor activities and social gatherings were also encouraged.


It was a…an Orthodox religious establishment. Everybody – every member could read, of course, fluent Hebrew, and we conducted the services – very, very lovely services. And they…they thought I had a fairly good – they discovered I had a fairly good voice, and very often I was taken to lead the services there, which I found…I found uplifted, if that’s the right word.


Imperial War Museum, Oral history interview with Herman Rothman, February 2008 [accessed 20 July 2022]

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