‘Margaret Thatcher and her family gave my mother the chance to live’

Betina Nokleby with Rotarians (from left) Alistair Holmes, Irwin Metcalf and Jim Farley.
Betina Nokleby with Rotarians (from left) Alistair Holmes, Irwin Metcalf and Jim Farley.
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A very special guest is enjoying a tour of Grantham today to express her gratitude to the people of the town, including Margaret Thatcher’s family, for saving her mother’s life.

Betina Nokleby met Grantham Rotarians at the Mayor’s Parlour this morning and is being shown around the town today.

Betina’s mother, Edith Muhlbauer, came to Grantham from Vienna in 1938 as a 17-year-old Jewish girl desperately trying to escape the Nazis.

She found safety in Grantham following an appeal by Grantham Rotarians to bring her to the country and stayed here for two years, living for the majority of that time with Margaret Thatcher’s family after being taken in by Lady Thatcher’s father, Alfred Roberts.

Betina, visiting Grantham from Sao Paulo, Brazil, told the Journal today: “Margaret Thatcher and her family gave my mother the chance to live”.

Edith Muhlbauer was a pen-pal of Margaret Thatcher’s sister, Muriel Roberts, in 1938.

Edith’s daughter, Betina, said: “At the time Hitler went to Vienna in 1938, my mother already wrote letters to Muriel Roberts. My grandfather asked her father to see about the opportunity to remove my mother from Austria and bring her to England.

“Muriel and Margaret and her parents, they were working with the Rotary Club to make a campaign to make this possible. They started a campaign so they could bring my mother here.

“She came and she was supported by the Rotary families. She lived with Rotary families.

“My mother always talked about the support she had, especially from Muriel because Margaret was a bit younger.”

Edith had been staying with her grandparents in Vienna when the Nazis arrived.

The efforts of Alfred Roberts and fellow Rotarians to bring Edith to Grantham and safety undoubtedly saved the teenager’s life.

By heading to Grantham she avoided the same fate as the grandparents she was living with.

Betina said: “Her grandparents were sent to Auschwitz and were killed.

“That is the reason why her grandfather wanted so much to send her to Grantham. She was a unique child and he loved her and he wanted to save her.

“If you can save your life or your kid’s life, you would save your kid. I would do the same for my kids.”

Betina said her mother was “always grateful” to Margaret Thatcher’s family and the Grantham people who gave money to pay for her trip to England.

Maragret Thatcher had helped raise money to bring Edith to England and once described the experience as her “greatest accomplishment”.

Betina received a special invite to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday from her son, Mark Thatcher.

Betina said: “In the church the bishop’s speech was so correct.

“Many people can say many things about her but she was always thinking if she could help or save one person, she should do it.”