A REFUGEE from the Nazis who devoted much of his life to educating young people about the Holocaust has died at the age of 97.

Walter Kammerling was among 10,000 Jewish children who fled occupied Europe through the Kindertransport scheme.

His sister, mother and father all died at Auschwitz.

Over years of speaking at local schools, Mr Kammerling told thousands of children how he was put on a Kindertransport train in his native Vienna in December 1938, at the age of 15.

It was weeks after Kristallnacht – the ‘Night of Broken Glass’, when Jewish people were beaten and killed, synagogues were burned and Jews’ businesses were wrecked.

Mr Kammerling told the Daily Echo in the 1990s: “I remember hearing the noise of the Kristallnacht. The screaming and the shouting and the smashing. After the Germans arrived, life became hell.

“Going to school was like running the gauntlet. You would get groups of hostile youths along the street. You didn’t want to run because that would only draw attention to you and so you crossed over.

“When you were on your way home and you heard screams behind you, you did not dare look.”

Public acts of antisemitism had become widespread since Hitler annexed Austria in March that year.

“I saw one old man scrubbing the pavements. He was crouched down and then fell over. A youth with a Nazi armband kicked him and the people around just stood by watching. That was the sort of power that the Swastika conferred on anyone who pulled it on, even youths,” he said.

He said of his escape from Vienna: “I was just told I was going to England; the whole thing is a haze. It struck me when I said goodbye to my father, who had angina, in a Jewish hospital. He was in tears – I’d never seen him cry and I didn’t want to leave his bedside.”

After his evacuation, Walter spent time at Dovercourt summer holiday camp and was then sent to work on a farm in Northern Ireland.

Mr Kammerling served in the British army in 1944-45. He married Herta Plaschkes, who had left Austria on a Kindertransport train at the age of 11, a month after he did.

Herta’s father, mother and younger had arrived in Britain towards the end of 1939, possibly among the last Jews to escape the Nazis.

Mr Kammerling discovered the fate of his family when he returned to Vienna. His sister Elfriede, mother Marie and father Maximilian had all been sent on trains to the gas chambers of Auschwitz Birkenau.

Walter and Herta lived in Austria again from 1946 to 1957 before returning to Britain. “Going back to Britain was like coming home. The memories in Vienna were too painful. Britain had saved our lives,” he said.

He told the Daily Echo in 2015: “One has to be so very, very careful, because what happened there, it was easy to fall into it.

“If you look at the world today, those elements are still with us, probably even more so. It’s so important we talk about it because nothing has changed there. It’s so easy to slide into something.”

He added: “There is a big age gap when I talk to children, but I was their age when it happened. Through us, it becomes part of their experience and their lifetime.”

The chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust and the education minister of Northern Ireland were among those paying tribute to Mr Kammerling.