ERICA Lustig Prean, an Isle of Wight woman who was a child refugee from a Jewish family in Germany during the Second World War and later active in Island arts, sports and charities, has died aged 92.

Erica was born in Aachen on March 18, 1930, to divorced parents Martin - a senior cantor in the Aachen Synagogue - and Ilse Stiebel.

She was brought up by her maternal grandparents, Carl and Emmy, who were textile manufacturers, and as a child could remember the infamous Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, in November 1938.

The Nuremberg Laws segregated Jewish children, and she was moved from her Catholic school to the Montessori School, along with her distant cousin Anne Frank – whose grandmother Rosa was a regular visitor working with Erica’s grandmother as volunteers for Jewish charities.

Isle of Wight County Press: Erica Lustig-Prean on holiday in 2010Erica Lustig-Prean on holiday in 2010 (Image: Duncan Lustig-Prean)

She escaped from the school when Nazi brown shirts arrived to beat up the children.

Erica remembered the first visit to her home by uniformed Nazis, who pushed their way into the drawing-room to find a large oil painting of her grandfather Carl and his brother in First World War officer uniforms.

The Nazis saluted the painting and left, but had they searched her home they would have found two Jews in hiding, pending their escape to Holland. Carl and Emmy operated an escape route for Jews.

In 1939, they secured an English sponsor for her mother, who fled Germany with Erica two weeks before the war began, carrying just a tiny suitcase and the equivalent of ten shillings.

Erica, nine, suffered several unhappy moves to refugee hostels during the Blitz, later finding a new ‘family’ in a Tunbridge Wells refugee home.

Erica was unable to join the street revelry of VE Day when it happened - she only recalled vomiting with relief that she was safe from extermination.

Having acquired a British passport in 1947, Erica returned to Aachen to see what had become of her birthplace but felt unsure who she could trust.

Her grandparents were among some 96 close and wider family members murdered in or on their way to Nazi concentration camps.

Post-war, Erica studied at secretarial college in Tunbridge Wells, and through a fellow refugee working at Bakelite she met her husband-to-be Wolfgang (John) Lustig-Prean.

He was the son of an Austrian satirical, anti-Nazi journalist and former director of the theatre Volksoper Vienna.

At first, this rather shy man did not impress her, and it was only when she recognised how well-read he was and saw his intellect that the relationship flourished.

In 1952 she was introduced to her fiance’s family in Vienna, feeling worried that she was just a poor Jewish middle-class refugee girl about to meet one of the most important aristocratic families in Austria.

Later that year, Erica married Wolfgang, who was chairman of the English Table Tennis Association from 1986-91 and managing director of Columbia Products in Binstead, which brought the family to the Island in 1961.

Erica shared with her husband, who died in 2013, a deep concern for the treatment of refugees and vulnerable people.

She gave to refugee causes and homeless charities, and, after blindness struck Wolfgang, she started to give to the RNIB and similar charities, and latterly she secretly donated both cash and clothing to assist Ukrainian refugees.

She was determined to ensure the Holocaust should not be forgotten, regularly giving talks, especially to young people.

Erica was a table tennis player in the Isle of Wight League, was on the committee, and was the Island’s national representative with the English Table Tennis Association for many years.

She was a previous chair of the Isle of Wight National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children and served on the committee, and edited and contributed to the newsletter of the Isle of Wight National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.

She died at her home in Ryde on December 23.

Erica is survived by her two sons, Carl, a former international table tennis player and Olympian, and Duncan, a former naval officer, director of Brighton Fringe and LGBTQ+ and human rights campaigner.