Holocaust survivor thanks QRC

A Jew­ish man who fled with his fam­i­ly to T&T from the Nazi holo­caust re­turned to his for­mer al­ma mater, Queen’s Roy­al Col­lege, to give thanks for the school’s im­pact on his life.

Dr Pe­ter La­band, 92, a den­tal sur­geon who now lives in the Unit­ed States, was full of praise for his QRC as he walked across the school’s court­yard ac­com­pa­nied by mem­bers of the Queen’s Roy­al Col­lege Old Boys’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

“It start­ed right here. With­out this, it would not have been pos­si­ble. In a way, I came to say thank you,” he said.

Re­count­ing his fam­i­ly’s dra­mat­ic es­cape from Nazi im­pris­on­ment eight decades ago, Dr La­band said his fa­ther, Dr Paul La­band, a Jew, was im­pris­oned for a year in the Buchen­wald con­cen­tra­tion camp, one of the first and largest Ger­man Nazi camps at the on­set of the Sec­ond World War. In 1938 af­ter his wife ne­go­ti­at­ed his re­lease on the con­di­tion that the fam­i­ly would leave Ger­many with­in a month.

They de­cid­ed to come to Trinidad af­ter hear­ing that all they re­quired was a land­ing pass and pay­ment of $100 in TT cur­ren­cy.

A rel­a­tive in the Nether­lands had ac­cess to the TT cur­ren­cy and they were able to se­cure pas­sage on a Ger­man lin­er to get to Trinidad.

Dr La­band en­rolled at QRC and at­tend­ed the school from 1938 to 1945.

He stud­ied den­tistry at the Tufts School of Den­tal Med­i­cine in the US but cred­its QRC with giv­ing him a prop­er start to suc­ceed.

“I start­ed out here, what­ev­er you want to say about Queen’s Roy­al, it’s a gate­way to any­thing you want to do,” said Dr La­band, “Queen’s Roy­al gave me what I need­ed to start out in life.”

Dr La­band is the last sur­viv­ing Jew­ish stu­dent at QRC from the era of World War II. His moth­er, who was not a Jew, and his sis­ter died in Ger­many.

His fa­ther re­mar­ried in Trinidad and had a daugh­ter, who at­tend­ed Bish­op’s Anstey High School.

“I am lucky to get to 92 and still to stand on my own feet and come here and say thank you.

It makes me feel re­al­ly good,” he said.

He trans­lat­ed his fa­ther’s mem­oirs, an ac­count of his re­lease from the con­cen­tra­tion camp and the fam­i­ly’s jour­ney to Trinidad in­to Eng­lish and it is now on dis­play at the Unit­ed States Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Mu­se­um in Wash­ing­ton DC.

Reporter: Peter Christopher

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