From a pastoral town to the halls of academe—the Paechter children in England

From a pastoral town to the halls of academe—the Paechter children in England

In the November 2002 edition of The Beestonian, a magazine about Nottingham's vibrant student district, retired academic George F. Paechter contributed an article about his long-time residence in the town. He begins with his personal history.

I was born in Berlin and came to England with a Kindertransport in June 1939. When I arrived, my brother Hans and I went to live with a Dr. and Mrs. H.W. Hills on Rodborough Common, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, while my sister Lisel went to another family, also in Stroud. I attended Marling School. We were only supposed to be there for a couple of months until our parents got out of Germany, for us all to go to America and join my mother’s sister. However the war intervened, and my parents perished in the gas chambers. My father had been a director of the Deutsche Bank.

The USHMM has a passenger list for the U.S. George Washington arriving in Southhampton with 175 Jewish refugees on June 30, 1939. On the list are Hans, Gerd and Lise Ruth Paechter. 

Also, we have the 1939 England and Wales Register pages showing the children placed at the two homes near the town of Stroud in the county of Glouchestershire. The registration was conducted nationwide on September 29, 1939, just three months after their arrival. 

In the images you can see Hans Paechter listed together with the Hills family at Cotsnoor, Radborough Commons. George would be listed on the line below but he is blacked out for privacy reasons. 

Lise Ruth is shown with the Thomas family at another address in Stroud. It is thoughtful that the reception committee was able to place the children in the same community. 

Her record is updated with later notations indicating that she was later adopted and took the Thomas name. Her future husband's surname, Micklem, is also given as an annotation. 

We know that Anneliese Landau was able to visit the children in Stroud a month or so later, when she got out of Germany and was on her way to America. We have read that she made great efforts while living in New York to secure visas for her remaining family members to escape Germany. The plan was they would unite in America. But it was not to be. 

Let's return to George Paechter's article.

So I was stuck with the Hills until the end of the war. My brother went to London when he reached fifteen, after which my Scoutmaster’s family virtually adopted me as the oldest of five other children, until I went to Oxford on a scholarship in 1948. I got my BA/MA in mathematics at Magdalen College and my D. Phil at Christ Church on a Senior scholarship. I then had a lectureship at Wadham until I moved to Nottingham in 1950. I got a job as a lecturer in mathematics at Nottingham University, so my then wife Alison could be near her sister and brother in law Elizabeth and John Newman, who were both in the psychology department of the University. By then we had a daughter, Caroline, or Carrie as she is now known. 

This is quite the academic family. George obtained his doctorate in 1954 with a dissertation on "Some Problems in Algebraic Homotopy." He went on to a significant career as a mathematician and a professor at University of Nottingham. His research focused on algebraic topology. 

I believe that he is now deceased but reviewing my information I do not have a solid source for this. He would be about 95 if still living. 

Lisel Ruth Thomas also became a scientist. She graduated St. Anne's College, Oxford, studied medicine at the Lister Institute in London, and received her doctorate. In June 1958, she married a fellow student, Henry Spedding Micklem. See the news account of the wedding in the image above. 

Lisel and Spedding settled at the University of Edinburgh, where he was professor of biology and she held a research position at the medical school. Her expertise was in monoclonal antibodies, and her name is on numerous citations.

The Micklems spent sabbatical years in Paris and California. Lisel died in 1990 at age 57. I don't know the cause. Spedding lived a long life and died in Edinburgh October 2021. They had at least two children, Naomi and Sam. Also, there is a current Oxford geneticist by the name of Gos Micklem, who might be a third.

Hans Paechter died in London in 1945 at age 20. I haven't yet found the cause of death. 

George Paechter's daughter Carrie Paechter is an accomplished social scientist with a focus on gender, identity and childhood. She was a professor at the University of London but since 2017 has been back in Nottingham as Professor of Childhood, Youth, and Family Life at Nottingham Trent University. 

Carrie Paechter married virtuoso horn player and music professor Phillip "Pip" Eastop, but I don't think it lasted or produced any children..