Poster for the Discovering Spymaster event - Friday 17 June 2022, The Council House, North Street, Chichester

One Day for a Spymaster

A Personal reflection on the career of Thomas Kendrick

On 17 June, the Chichester Marks Holocaust Memorial Day committee have organised a conversation with the historian Dr Helen Fry. She is the author of a new book called Spymaster, which sheds new light on the life and career of Thomas Kendrick.

For Clare Apel, the chair of Chichester Marks Holocaust Memorial Day, discovering Spymaster was personal. Clare and her family were contacted by Dr Fry during her research for the book, as the bravery of Thomas Kendrick was central to their family story. Clare said:

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 is “One Day”.   13th March 1938 was a day which was very, very special for me.  My parents lived in Vienna.  My father was Jewish and an editor of 2 papers one of which was anti-Nazi.  My mother was British.  On 12th March 1938 the Germans marched into Austria and Vienna.  They immediately started rounding up all the Jews as quickly as possible to deport them to the concentration camps and death.  My father managed to escape to Czechoslovakia where he had an office.  My mother had a tortuous escape to England with false papers and my two brothers aged 11 months and 3 years.

Speaking as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, life has had its ups and downs.  The subject of what had happened was not talked about much.  The pain was too much.  I never really knew how they received false papers.  3 months ago, a book came out about a man called Thomas Kendrick.  He was officially a passport officer but in fact ran the spy ring over the whole of Europe for the British Government.  From 12th March 1938 till the end of July 1938 he saved more 10,000 Austrian Jews.  The first people to get false papers were my parents on 13th March 1938.  That is why March 13th is my ONE DAY.   Without Thomas Kendrick none of my family nor my brothers’ families would be here.  We owe Thomas Kendrick great thanks.

Clare’s brother Anthony, who was 11 months old when he was rescued from wartime Vienna, will be attending our event in June. Now aged 84, he was one of the pioneers of kidney transplantation in this country but is now retired. Guests at the event had the opportunity to find out more about the extraordinary life of Thomas Kendrick and his influence on so many.

The event took place on Friday 17th June at 6pm at The Council House, North Street, Chichester, PO19 1LQ