Leonard G Montefiore

Montefiore was the chairman of the Committee for the Care of the Concentration Camp Children and the driving force in arranging for the Boys to be brought to the UK.

He was born on 2 June 1889 to a highly established Anglo-Jewish family in London and was the only son of his father, Claude Montefiore, who was the founding President of the World Union for Progressive Jews.

Montefiore read history at Clifton College and Balliol College in Oxford and acted as a philanthropist in addition to his own business interests.

Once he graduated he worked at Toynbee Hall, which was a settlement house in which the rich and poor lived alongside each other in an attempt to alleviate poverty and promote social work.

In the First World War, Montefiore joined the Royal Hampshire Regiment. He was promoted to the rank of Captain and was admitted to the Order of the British Empire in 1918. Montefiore married Muriel Jeanetta Tuck in 1924 and they had two sons, Alan and David. He became President of the Association of Reform Synagogues of Great Britain in 1941 and founded the Joint Foreign Committee of the Board of Deputies of British Jews with Neville Laski in 1933.

Montefiore’s philanthropy benefitted many people during the Second World War. He was a leading figure in the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF) and the wealth that he contributed to the fund ensured that the British Government could accept Jewish refugees from Germany without draining government finances.

Montefiore was also fluent in German, which allowed him to study the oppression of Jews in Germany in great detail; he wrote pamphlets, letters and articles which he eventually published, notably Exiles from Germany (1937).

Montefiore also used his influence to bring hundreds of Jewish orphans into the UK after the Holocaust. He wrote to Anthony de Rothschild suggesting that the CBF should persuade the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) to fly children from Displaced Person’s camps in Europe to the UK.

SHAEF flew hundreds of children to Britain in RAF bombers and Montefiore arranged for them to be cared for and rehabilitated at the reception centre in Windermere.

Montefiore took personal interest in the Boys development and visited the hostels regularly. Eva Kahn-Miden who was a nurse at Windemere, described Montefiore as ‘A remarkable man’ with ‘Intelligence, compassion and financial freedom’.

Montefiore died on 23 December 1961, aged 72.

This profile was written by Ruby Kwartz.

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