Margaret Street’s hidden wartime story

The assembly point for the Jewish Bloc this week is particularly meaningful for JSG member Sue Levi-Hughes

Margaret Street’s hidden wartime story

On Saturday 18th May the Jewish Bloc is assembling on the corner of Margaret Street in the West End. This street is particularly poignant for me as it’s where my parents first met.

They both worked at a dress factory and showroom, owned by Louis Rosenthal, called Loroco at 19/20 Margaret Street. People working there were mostly Jewish refugees. I believe that Louis Rosenthal may have guaranteed Jews from Germany, Austria and France employment to make it easier to enter Britain. My father fled from Germany in1936 when it would have been difficult, but not impossible, to migrate to Britain, especially if there was a job waiting for you. My mother, who was a seamstress, didn’t get out until 1938, and came as an ‘illegal’ immigrant.

In July 1940, the British government established the Special Operations Executive (SOE). It trained and managed secret agents who would operate in enemy territory in the war. Of course, those agents needed to blend in with the local population and wear what locals were wearing. This is where Loroco came in, as it was one of the dress factories that employed people who knew the variations in clothing between, for example, the north or south of Germany.

The story of the work they did at Loroco is really fascinating. To find out more read this wonderfully informative article from Jstor .

This Saturday, before the march, I’ll go to number 19/20 Margaret Street and give thanks to Louis Rosenthal who will have saved many lives and gave my parents a future.    

Photo: Walter and Hilde on their marriage in 1947

Posted: 14 May 2024