Henry Wuga

Henry Wuga

b.1924, Nuremberg
Nationality: German

Henry Wuga’s Early Life

Henry Wuga was born Heinz Wuga in 1924. His parents, Karl and Lorne, worked in the catering trade. Henry had a happy childhood and spent summers in children’s camps. He left school in 1938 and, with his mother’s encouragement, he too began a career in catering.

Henry’s Journey

In 1939, at the start of the Second World War, Henry escaped Germany on the Kindertransport, a rescue effort organised by World Jewish Relief (then The Central British Fund for German Jewry) to remove Jewish children facing Nazi persecution. It was the first time Henry had been separated from his parents and, like a lot of the children, he found it a traumatic experience.

Henry was matched with a lady guarantor in Glasgow, and was lucky to find a warm and welcoming home. He was 15 years old.

Henry’s Internment

In 1940, at just 16 years of age, Henry was arrested for “corresponding with the enemy”. His crime had been to attempt to send a letter to inform his parents of his wellbeing, via his uncles in Paris and Brussels. This was a serious offence in wartime, and Henry was declared a Category A alien at the High Court in Edinburgh. He was suspected of being a spy.

Henry was given one hour to pack before his internment journey began. He was held at temporary holding centres in Edinburgh and York before arriving at Warth Mills. The camp was already far exceeding its capacity and conditions were lamentable. For a boy of 16, separated from his family and accused of being a spy, it was a desperate situation.

After a few weeks, Henry was transferred to the Isle of Man. His fellow internees were artists, musicians and academics and, although still prisoners, they made the best of the situation and it provided a teenager like Henry with an opportunity to learn.

Henry underwent several tribunals, eventually being re-categorised and released.

"For a boy of 16, separated from his family and accused of being a spy, it was a desperate situation."

Life After the War

On his release, Henry went back to Glasgow and worked in several high-end restaurants as a chef de partie. In 1944, he married Ingrid Wolff who had also arrived in Britain on the Kindertransport.

Henry played an active role in German and Austrian refugee clubs and was eventually granted British citizenship. In 1947, Lorne Wuga joined Henry and Ingrid in Glasgow having survived the war hidden in Germany.

In 1999, Henry was honoured with an MBE for Service to Sport for Disabled People, recognising his long association as a ski instructor for the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association.

Henry and Ingrid Wuga still live in Glasgow and enjoy a busy retirement with their two daughters and four grandchildren.

Watch Henry talk about his experience of being interned and his life afterwards.

Thanks to Henry and his family for providing biographical information and archive images. All rights reserved.

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