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‘Hero of the Holocaust’ Bertha Bracey to be celebrated with blue plaque

She was a ‘British Hero of the Holocaust’ who helped secure sanctuary for hundreds of people and children during and after the Second World War.

Now Bertha Bracey and her former Birmingham home are to be recognised and celebrated with the unveiling of a special blue plaque.

On Thursday 21st September, the Birmingham Civic Society and Bournville Village Trust will unveil the commemorative plaque at Bournville Quaker Meeting House.

It will then go on permanent display outside her former family home in Bournville Lane, Bournville, where she lived in 1911 before leaving to begin a career and humanitarian aid work.

Birmingham Civic Society and charity Bournville Village Trust hope the plaque will raise awareness of Bertha’s selfless work and her kindness and compassion.

Penny Colbourne, Volunteer Blue Plaque Coordinator at Birmingham Civic Society, said: “Bertha was a teacher and aid worker who organised relief and sanctuary for hundreds of Europeans affected by turmoil before, during and after the Second World War.

“She took charge of the ‘Friends Committee for Refugees and Aliens’, growing her team from a single assistant to over 50 case workers who processed refugees, and is recognised as a Hero of the Holocaust for her work in establishing the Kindertransport, an organised rescue effort of children from Nazi-occupied areas prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.

“We hope this plaque will ensure Bertha is never forgotten and that the kindness, compassion and strength she showed through her selfless work will inspire others.”

Arthur Tsang, Director of Communities at Bournville Village Trust, said: “Bertha Bracey is an inspiration, and we’re incredibly proud that a blue plaque, commemorating her leadership in helping hundreds of people and children to flee persecution, will be placed outside her former family home.

“We think it’s important that all of the people and stories that make up Bournville’s wonderful history are explored, and recognising Bertha through a blue plaque is just one of the ways we can bring a different part of Bournville’s heritage to life.”

Bertha Bracey was born in Birmingham in 1893 and after graduating from Birmingham University, she worked in personnel and as a teacher. She joined the Society of Friends – the Quakers – at around 18 and left teaching to work at Quaker Centres in Austria and Germany as a youth and aid worker.

She aided relief operations in Germany and the Netherlands before and after the War, rescuing and re-settling thousands of Nazi victims and lone children between 1933 and 1948. She founded schools for refugees and led the Quaker team which formed part of the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany.

During the war, she took on further duties to help refugees and in 1942, was awarded an OBE for her service and leadership. In 1945, after the War ended, Bertha arranged for 300 orphans to be flown from a concentration camp to England.

After the War, she joined the Allied Control Commission to help refugees in Germany and was later responsible for women’s affairs in the American and British Zones of Occupation until she retired in 1953.

In 1999, a rose was dedicated to Bertha at the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre and in 2010, she was recognised as a British Hero of the Holocaust by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Bertha died in 1989, aged 95.

Birmingham Civic Society celebrates the heritage of our city by honouring the people and places that have made it what it is today.

The Society has prime responsibility in the city for the erection of Blue Plaques, each recognising an individual connected with Birmingham who has achieved greatness.

People can explore over 110 locations using the Blue Plaque Map or by downloading a Heritage Trail

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