The Story of Renée and George Morton
Renée Morton 1919-2006 and George Morton 1918-1999
Francis Morton’s mother Renée née Stransky was born in Plsen in 1919, in Czechoslovakia, and lived mostly in Prague before the war. Francis’ father, George (originally Jiri Morgenstern), was born a year earlier in Brno, a sizeable town in Czechoslovakia. They both came from fairly secular families but maintained their Jewish identities.
Faced with the growing threat from across the border in Germany, Renée’s parents sent her to England on a domestic service visa at the age of 18. The date was September 1938, two weeks before the signing of the Munich Agreement handing over part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. They gave her strict instructions not to return until it was safe to do so.
Renée kept over 500 letters from her family and friends written between 1938 and 1945, from which Francis has been able to reconstruct the lives and fate of her family. Most were murdered in the Holocaust. These letters include some from her then boyfriend, George, from which details of his life story have been uncovered. Renée died in London in 2006.
George escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1940. After an extremely dangerous journey through Europe, an illegal crossing to Palestine and imprisonment by the British on Mauritius, he arrived in England in 1942 to fight with the Allies. He and Renée were married in England in 1943 and he died in Switzerland in 1999.
The final part of the presentation covers what George and Renée found out after the war regarding the fate of their families and their possessions.
Extracts from the letters are read by actors and are accompanied by both personal and historical photographs.
Presented by Francis Morton
Francis Morton was born in London in 1952. He worked in IT development and then in investment banking as a systems and management consultant.
Following retirement, he has focused on exploring his family history through 500 letters written to his mother from family and friends between 1938 and 1946. These letters highlight the growing persecution and murder of European Jews.
He now tells the stories of his mother Renee and father George, both born in Czechoslovakia, who managed to flee Nazi Europe, never to see their immediate families again. His motivation is to share the details about what happened to just a few of the millions of Jews who were murdered in the war, to counter the increase in Holocaust denial or minimisation. He talks about this and his family in a recent interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUAbCQRE_z8