Sheffield great-grandfather Ulrich still going strong at 102 after fleeing the Nazis

Sitting in an armchair chuckling away on his 102nd birthday, Ulrich Weigart reveals: 'You have to keep laughing at yourself and with yourself.'

Tuesday, 15th November 2016, 2:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:34 pm
Ulrich Weigart celebrates his 102nd birthday

Sitting in an armchair chuckling away on his 102nd birthday, Ulrich Weigart reveals: “You have to keep laughing at yourself and with yourself.”

The happily smiling great grandfather was born in 1914 in the small German town of Sonthofen in the Bavarian Alps.

Ulrich in his 20s

A refugee, he fled Nazi Germany aged 20 before the outbreak of war due to his father’s Jewish heritage and ended up in Manchester before moving to Sheffield.

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He recalls a happy childhood and remembers pupils skiing to the nearby school house to attend lessons.

But his laughter stops and mood darkens when he recalls living under Hitler’s Nazi regime by 1933. A year later, Ulrich fled to Britain.

“My father said to me there was no life here. He saw what was going on when others didn’t at the time. It was hard to leave but I realised I had to go,” Ulrich said speaking from his nursing home in Sharrow.

Ulrich Weigart celebrates his 102nd birthday

“At the time the worst was yet to come, I’m grateful I managed to get out when I did.”

Bunking up with a cousin in Manchester, Ulrich studied at the university and later worked as an analytical chemist in Rotherham when he moved to Sheffield in the 1950s.

He married his wife Barbara, settled in Hunters Bar, and had two daughters, Ruth and Susie.

And the laughter soon returns as Ulrich recalls being labelled an ‘alien spy’ and being shipped off to Canada in 1940 before returning a year later.

Ulrich not long after he arrived in the UK

“When the war broke out the British Government were very suspicious of the refugees.

“They thought we could be Hitler’s spies working undercover. It was rather ridiculous.” Urlich says with a big laugh.

“We were fed quite well, we were technically prisoners but we were never mistreated.”

Walking is a big passion of Ulrich’s.

Ulrich in his 20s

And he got his first glimpse on his second day in England of what he calls ‘the best part of Sheffield’ – the Peak District. The walking fanatic even spent his 100th birthday with a weekly stroll around Endcliffe and the surroundings woods.

He’s not as nimble as he once was but Ulrich still gets about – with a little help from his walking frame. “The corridors here are quite long so I like to get out and about whenever I can,” he said.

“There’s quite a bit of outdoor space as well so when the weather is nice I like to walk around the gardens.

“The secret to long life is don’t let your parents die too early! My father died when he was 97.

“I’ve never touched a cigarette, I’ve never understood it even when times were different.

“I love walking but I never did it so I could prolong my life. Whether or not this all helps I don’t know!”

Ulrich Weigart celebrates his 102nd birthday
Ulrich not long after he arrived in the UK