It was a club which became a safe haven for Jewish people who had been forced to flee their homes in a bid to escape the Nazi regime.

The Refugee Centre was set up in Glasgow’s Garnethill area in 1941 in a flat in Pitt Street and in February 1942, it had moved to Sauchiehall Street and became the Scottish Refugee Centre.

Speaking in The Herald in 1988, refugee Ernst Fettner, an Austria journalist, said: “We came to the centre to speak German to each other and because most of us felt lonely at first. The house was alive with left-wing ideas, there were lectures on Marxism in the canteen and we would stay up half the night discussing what was happening in Europe and planning for the future. But we also went there to meet Scots because it was one of the few places where we could.”

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Now more than 80 years on the Refugee Centre is one of the places included on the Garnethill Refugee Trail being launched by the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre this week.

The hidden Holocaust-era history of Garnethill is revealed in the new heritage walking trail.

Boys Hostel in Hill Street, 1939

Boys Hostel in Hill Street, 1939

Using collections from the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, the trail showcases buildings connected with Jewish refugees who came to Glasgow from Europe before, during and after the Second World War.

Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany in 1933, thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish refugees fled from the Nazi regime to the UK and neighbouring European countries. Committees in the UK began raising funds for Jews in Germany, and some Jewish people were helped to escape, using schemes such as the Domestic Service Visa to work in Britain. Following the violent anti-Jewish events known as Kristallnacht in 1938, the UK Government agreed to take in 10,000 unaccompanied children up to the age of 17 on the Kindertransport scheme. Each child had to be sponsored. Hundreds of these children came to Scotland and many stayed in the Garnethill area.

Cecile Schwarzchild and Hilda Goldwag in Garnethill

Cecile Schwarzchild and Hilda Goldwag in Garnethill

The trail begins at Garnethill Synagogue on Hill Street where the Garnethill Hebrew Congregation was instrumental in supporting refugees by refurbishing a house in the synagogue grounds to be used as a Boys’ Hostel for children who came on the Kindertransport.

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Refugees Hilda Goldwag and Cecile Schwarzschild, who were saved on Domestic Service Visas, lived in the tenements on Hill Street. On the other side of the synagogue, in Renfrew Street, was the Quaker-run hostel for Jewish women and girls. Many of the children attended the local Primary School, Garnetbank.

A black and white photograph from the archives shows Boys on the hostel steps, 1939, with Ernst Marchand among a group of boys on what was the Boys’ Hostel in Hill Street.

In May 1939, Irene Marchand and her son Ernst reached Scotland from Germany. Mrs Marchand later became hostel matron, and the hostel was home for her and Ernst.

Between 1939 and 1948, around 175 refugees, mostly boys, from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia lived in this hostel.

The Refugee Club in the 1940s

The Refugee Club in the 1940s

A piece in The Jewish Echo from February, 1939, said: “The boys will virtually run the house themselves. They will have certain duties to perform, such as making their own beds and cleaning their own shoes, and they will appoint their own prefects, who will see that all duties are properly carried out and good conduct maintained… they will each receive 6d a week pocket money and a 2 ½d stamp for a weekly letter to their parents.”

Further along Renfrew Street at Glasgow School of Art, Jewish sculptor Benno Schotz helped refugee artists who arrived in the city. Among refugee artists who later taught there were sculptor Paul Zunterstein, artist Frederick Selby and architect Isi Metzstein. The trail extends to Sauchiehall Street, where the Refugee Club, on part of the site of the current Dental Hospital, was an invaluable hub for refugees to meet each other and to mix with local people.

Volunteers are preparing to help people one the Garnethill Trail

Volunteers are preparing to help people one the Garnethill Trail

Kerry Patterson, manager of the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre said: “This trail reveals places in the city that were vital for some of the refugees who made their home in Glasgow. Protest meetings were organised in Glasgow as soon as Hitler came into power in 1933, and the people of Glasgow supported the Jewish refugees who came here in the 1930s and 1940s, just as they support contemporary refugee causes”

Harvey Kaplan, Director of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre said the trail emphasises how Glasgow became a safe haven.

He said: “Drawing from the Archives Centre’s extensive collections, this new trail emphasises how European Jewish refugees found a safe haven in Glasgow. The Garnethill area has a proud and longstanding record - from the 19th Century to the present - of welcoming immigrants and refugees.”

Philip Rodney, chairman of the Board of the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre hopes the trail will help people to discover the historic links, while vice chairman and former Lord Provost Liz Cameron said: "It is fitting that we remember the refugees who found a home in Glasgow and particularly the children who came here to seek refuge in the 1930s and 1940s, a timely reminder of Glasgow as a haven for the many communities who live in Glasgow together in harmony. We are all so proud to be children, together, of Mother Glasgow.”

HeraldScotland: Liz Cameron, centre, with Kerry Paterson and Harvey Kaplan, at the launch of the Garnethill trailLiz Cameron, centre, with Kerry Paterson and Harvey Kaplan, at the launch of the Garnethill trail

Mrs Cameron, a guide at the Synagogue, added: "My family has always been close to the Jewish community since my Dad came over from Ireland to live in the Gorbals. I am sure he would have been very proud of my involvement in the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre, which I believe will highlight the huge contribution that the Jewish community has made to Glasgow and to Scotland."

The trail can be viewed at