Paul Heim was born in Vienna in 1932. Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, daily life for Jewish people rapidly became challenging. Paul fled Austria in 1939 with his mother and sister, his father was overseas at the time. Many Jews, who could not leave, including Paul’s grandparents and other family members, were murdered by the Nazis.

Paul’s family travelled first to Cyprus, then Egypt, Israel, and Tanzania, settling in Kenya and later the United Kingdom.

This photograph (1935) shows Paul Heim with his sister Susan and his grandparents, Oskar and Helene Herz. Paul and Susan were able to leave Vienna shortly after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1939. Their grandparents and extended family went into hiding but were denounced and arrested. Oskar and Helene Herz were deported to a concentration camp in Minsk, Russia where they were murdered in gas chambers.
After escaping from Austria with his mother and sister, Paul travelled to a refugee camp in Cyprus, where he was reunited with his father. The Heim family later travelled to Egypt, Israel and Tanzania. In this photograph (1938) a luggage label with Paul’s name on it is attached to his coat.

A Distinguished Career 

Educated first in Nairobi, Paul read Law at Durham University.  Initially returning to Kenya in 1955, he served for 10 years at the Supreme Court in Kenya, before moving to the European Court of Human Rights, the European Parliament, and the European Court of Justice. He was a visiting professor at Leicester University and an honorary research fellow of the University of Exeter.

He was awarded the honours of Grand Officer, Order of Merit of the Duchy of Luxembourg and was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.

He settled in Langport with his wife and children. Throughout his life, Paul remained passionate about encouraging young people to reach their full potential and founded several educational awards. He co-founded the Somerset Anne Frank Awards in 2010.

Paul Heim died on 23 September 2020 at the age of 88.


War Stories

In 2015 Paul was interviewed as part of the War Stories Project. His moving testimony formed a central part of the War Stories film which won the audience award at the 20016 Imperial War Museum Film Festival.

Holocaust Memorial Day, 2021

On 27 January, 1945, the infamous concentration camp, Auschwitz in south-west Poland, was liberated.

27 January is now the day the world remembers the Holocaust, its victims and those of other attempted acts of genocide throughout history.

‘Be the light in the darkness’ is the theme for this year’s memorial day. The Holocuast Memorial Day Trust is holding a special ceremony which will be streamed live at 7.00 pm. You can find out more, and register to watch, on their website.


Header image: War Stories at the Museum of Somerset, 2015 – back, Jack Eglinton and Paul Heim; front, Colin Criddle, Betty Carter and Renée Stone.