Former Lib Dem Councillor tells his story of coming to UK as a teenage refugee

We’ve heard a lot of Liberal Democrats urging a compassionate response to the refugee crisis but for former Brent Councillor Paul Lorber, it’s personal.

He told the Brent and Kilburn Times about his family’s escape from Czechoslovakia and how he found safety in the UK:

He said: “I had no wish to go. I had a happy childhood in Czechoslovakia and did not want to leave all my friends and everything else I had known.”

His parents, who had both survived the horrors of Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War- his mother Auschwitz Berkenau and his father Sachenhausen- knew the risks of bringing up a Jewish family under a violent dictatorship and wanted a secure future for their sons.

After their first attempt to cross the Austrian border was blocked by a stand-off with a Russian tank his father was forced to falsify exit papers which claimed he was taking them on holiday to Yugoslavia…

…I do not believe that anyone chooses to become a refugee giving up their home and leaving all their friends and everything they worked for behind them.

“I know that my parents made a very big sacrifice in 1968 and that they found it hard to settle in a new country. They made that sacrifice for the good of me and my brother – just like today many people from war torn countries risk everything to save their children in the hope of giving them a better chance in life.”

Mr Lorber attended Kilburn Senior High School in Salusbury Road before studying at Manchester University and later becoming one of the first three Liberal Councillors in Brent and went on to serve as leader from 2006-2010.

In a bid to encourage other members of the community to share their stories of arriving in the UK after escaping violence overseas, Mr Lorber added: “It is in my view a reflection of simple humanity that as a country… we offer a refuge to our fellow human beings who are at risk of being killed by fanatics in their own countries.

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  • nigel hunter 30th Sep '15 - 10:06am

    We have long been a country that welcomes refugees fleeing conflict. I hope this present situation of fear and suspicion of those in need is short lived.

  • Shaun Cunningham 30th Sep '15 - 9:32pm

    Yes it is important to hear stories such as this. Also important to acknowledge the difference between economic migrants and true refugees…..would you agree? Even Germany are now saying economic migrants must be return to where they come from. If we did not have all this emotion circulating around this issue perhaps people would be be more measured in what they are saying.

  • suzanne fletcher 8th Oct '15 - 4:45pm

    late reading this, but thank you for telling your story, not always easy, but very important.

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