A Broughton man who, as an orphaned child, was evacuated to Ireland during the war, is returning to Germany for a commemorative event more than 70 years later.
Former Saltney town councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun was one of nearly 1,000 young children from Germany, Austria and France sent to Ireland at the end of the war as part of Red Cross initiative Operation Shamrock.
Now Mr Armstrong-Braun, who believes he was evacuated by boat from Germany to Ireland sometime in 1945, has received an invitation to the opening of the “Shamrock Children” exhibition at the Irish Embassy in Berlin next weekend.
The exhibition features photographs and interviews with some of the children, many of them well into their 80s now, who were adopted into Irish families in 1946.
“The faces of the Shamrock children reveal the depth of their life stories and the interviews offer an insight into this unique demonstration of compassion. The exhibition opened in the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in May this year and will be at the Irish Embassy in Berlin during November. I feel very honoured to have been invited to attend.”
The 75-year-old, who lives in Broughton, was born in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1940 to a Polish mother and a German father with the Second World War raging around him.
He never knew his father who went off to fight the Russians and is believed to have been killed at the Battle of Stalingrad.
His mother was forced to get a job on the railways in Essen and Klaus was put into care while she battled to make ends meet. She slept in the station and one night was tragically blown up by an Allied bomb.
The orphan Klaus was then shipped off to neutral Ireland by the Red Cross as a refugee.
Passed from place to place
There he was safe from the bombs but was passed from place to place and from family to family and didn’t know what it meant to grow up in a loving and stable environment.
However, the Armstrong family, from whom he takes half his surname, were a notable exception, and he still talks with fondness of the man he called ‘Daddy Armstrong’, who has long since passed away.
At the age of 14 Klaus was shipped to Chester and to the Barnado’s residential home at Boughton Hall which was sold off several years ago and transformed into retirement flats where he and another former resident were invited to a fete in 2010 as guests of honour.
Mr Armstrong-Braun, a former Green Party member, believes his early experience shaped his environmental and political outlook.