In June 2015 I discovered, almost by chance, the place that would receive us as a family, for almost 2,5 years in London. It was very challenging to move to London and to join a Masters in a conservatoire. Living at Nansen Village was the support we all needed as a family.
Nansen Village was created by Kurt Weinberg, a man with a vision that I deeply admire.
We want to share with you a text that explains how a couple of Nazi Germany refugees setup an amazing 50 year old project:
The Nansen Village community both here in Finchley and spread all over the world, is thinking with sadness and gratitude of our founder Kurt Weinberg, who has died aged 93.
Kurt came to this country in 1939 as a Kindertransport refugee from Nazi Germany as a teenager. He, along with many other Jewish children, was welcomed and educated here.
Nansen Village Founder and Philanthropist
KURT W. WEINBERG 23 JULY 1924– 9 JANUARY 2018
UNIQUE MAN, UNIQUE VISION
Kurt showed his enterprising spirit early on. As a school boy he organised the collection of paper salvage all around the countryside in Cornwall where his school was evacuated during the war.
He decided not to go to University, though more than capable, his family did not have the means at the time. After working in a radio factory he set up his own business importing Dutch cigars. His family in Germany had been in the cigar business so he felt well able to take this up. Of course, being the man he was, full of determination, this was successful. All of you who know him are aware of his tremendous tenacity. When Kurt decided something would happen he made sure it did!
Kurt was blessed with a long and happy marriage to Charlotte also a refugee from Nazi Germany.
Having established their family home with their four daughters, Kurt and Charlotte started exploring ways in which others could benefit from the sort of welcome they had received as young refugees. They were advised that students from overseas, particularly couples and families found it very difficult to afford London rental rates.
This gave them the idea for the great initiative that is Nansen Village. They wanted to find a way to bring together people from different backgrounds and beliefs so that they could gain an understanding of each other. Together with a group of friends they formed the Woodside Project and began fundraising. Kurt approached a number of bodies for support and the family also raised money through stalls at local events. Eventually enough had been gathered and promised for a site to be found and plans were drawn up. Kurt was the main mover in this. He found the Woodside Park site and appointed the architect, with whom he worked closely.
The first tenants moved in in1970, and since then 1739 families have experienced life in the Village, with the chance to meet others from around the world and studying many different subjects and attending different Universities.
Kurt was the Chairman of the Project and remained so for many years. Even when he gave up the position he was always fully involved in the running of the Village, until ill-health overtook him in recent years. He and Charlotte were constant visitors to the Village, knew all the tenants and helped to support them. They made many long-lasting friendships and were able to visit ex-tenants in many parts of the world in their travels.
None of this would have happened without the tenacious and determined character of the amazing, impressive man Kurt Weinberg. So many people are thankful for the chance to live in a secure and supportive home in London, which leaves them with memories they hold dear forever.
Also those of us connected to Nansen Village in other ways have immense respect and affection for him.
Nansen Village is a memorial to Kurt and his vision, and all of us are committed to ensuring its continued success.