Millar/Hornung Heir Hunters


Millar/Hornung

The Fraser team races to find heirs of the reclusive Ronald Millar, while Derek Rodbard traces descendants of people killed during the Holocaust.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Heir hunters track down families of people who have died without leaving a will.

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They hand over thousands of pounds to the long-lost relatives,

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who had no idea they were in line for a windfall.

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Could they be knocking at your door?

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On today's programme,

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the heir hunters encounter an astounding tale of courage

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from a Jewish family who fought to survive the Nazi genocide.

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I've dealt with a lot of cases like this and yours is unique.

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And the hunt is on to find heirs for a reclusive man who left an estate of £30,000.

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From that incident, it's almost like he closed himself off to the world.

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And we'll have details of some of the hundreds of unclaimed estates.

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Could you be in line for a windfall?

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More than two thirds of people die without leaving a will.

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If they have no obvious relatives, their money goes to the Government,

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who last year made a staggering £18 million from unclaimed estates.

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That's where the heir hunters step in.

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Which is why the cousins, such as you, end up inheriting.

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There are more than 30 heir-hunting companies

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who, for a share of the estate,

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make it their business to track down the rightful kin.

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Last year, they claimed back £6.5 million for unsuspecting heirs

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who would otherwise have gone empty-handed.

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You can see the smile on the beneficiary's face

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as they know they're going to receive sometimes tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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A real life-changing event when that cheque finally does drop on their doorstep.

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It's Friday morning at Fraser & Fraser,

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one of the oldest heir-hunting companies in the country.

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Case manager Bob Smith is working on tracing heirs for a man who died earlier this year.

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I have a case here which has been referred to us by a solicitor

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of a gentleman by the name of Ronald Millar.

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They only information they could glean from the papers and correspondence at Mr Millar's home

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was that he may have had a relation by the name of Povey or Govey,

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but we don't know quite how that family member ties in.

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Cases like Ronald Millar's, which come from solicitor referrals,

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account for more than half of the heir hunters' business.

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While there isn't the same worry about the competition

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as with the Treasury cases,

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the aim is still the same - finding entitled heirs.

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Ronald Millar died aged 80 in Edgware on the outskirts of London.

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He was a private man whose main contact with the outside world

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was from volunteers who helped with his shopping and banking.

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John Wilks is the director of the Friend In Need community centre

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who visit old and disabled people in the local area.

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Ron was generous and warm-hearted from the point of view that

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he would support charities regularly during each month.

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The World Wildlife sticker on the door, so we can presume it was that one,

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and something like the Cats Protection League and one or two other animal charities.

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And he had these cats.

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When we got involved,

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there were just four and then the occasional strays.

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No stray was ever turned away.

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It was always given a welcome.

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Four years before Ronald died,

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a shocking event meant that he would never leave the house again.

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The big change that occurred in Ron's life

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was coming back from work... from getting his pension one day,

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he found his door kicked in and the burglar still inside.

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From that moment, he never left the house.

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His neighbour said he was always out and about prior to this incident with the burglars.

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You know, he was looking after himself.

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But from that incident, it's almost like he closed himself off to the world.

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Shut inside his house, Ronald relied on volunteer help

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to run errands, but he remained financially independent.

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He wasn't short of money and was pretty comfortable.

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I'm told there's an estate of at least £30,000.

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Ronald never wrote a will so his estimated £30,000

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will all go to the Government if no heirs can be traced.

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Genealogists start their research by looking for birth,

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death and marriage records of the person who has died.

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They can use the dates and names on them to start building up

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layers of a family tree, which can lead to heirs.

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While the office can do a certain amount of research from their desks,

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they are also calling on the help of travelling researcher Ewart Lindsay.

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He's been sent to Edgware to see what he can find out from any of Ronald's friends or neighbours.

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I've just spoken to Bob in the office

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and he's now given me the name of the deceased.

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His name was Ronald Millar.

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He died on the 6th of February 2009.

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While Ewart is making his way to North London,

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in the office, Bob has received Ronald's birth certificate.

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It will allow them to cross-reference his place of birth

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and parents' names with records for other potential family members.

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Now that we've got the right birth certificate of our deceased,

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we've also been able to, um...

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establish that the deceased had a brother,

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Frederick Ramsey Millar.

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Finding a brother is great news but there may be even closer family.

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They still don't know who the Govey relative is

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that they've been told about.

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If it was a child of Ronald's, they would inherit before his brother.

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Back in Edgware, the neighbour enquiries have come to nothing,

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but Ewart's detective work has led him to the phone number of a carer who knew Ronald.

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We're trying to find out some information about the deceased.

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First of all, if he was married, did he have any children, you know, et cetera?

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Unmarried, lived on his own ever since his mother and father died.

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There's apparently mention of a David Govey.

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That's the name of David Govey, as a nephew.

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You would assume, if David Govey was a child of Ron Millar's brother,

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that the surname would be Millar, wouldn't you?

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And there was a vague possibility that there may have been a niece,

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so there could have been a daughter.

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It's been a useful call, and Ewart is quick to pass the news

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on to the office so they can search for Ronald's brother's children.

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There's still the mystery of why they might be called Govey

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rather than Millar,

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so Bob is enlisting some help to get to the bottom of it.

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Who is doing the research on Millar?

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-Can I hand some information over to you? Is that all right?

-Sure.

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Ewart's done an enquiry.

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He did have a brother - yeah? - who died when he was very young

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but was married and had two kids, and that could be possibly that relation David Govey.

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So he dies young and then...

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Yeah, the two kids may be adopted or assumed maybe a second father's...

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you know, second marriage father's name.

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-All right?

-Yeah.

-So I'll leave that with you.

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-Cheers.

-All right? Just let me know when you get something, yeah? Cheers.

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While Gareth tries to find a marriage and any family records for Ronald's brother and his children,

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Bob also needs to get some evidence to back up what he's been told.

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In our line of work, you have to deal with facts -

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certificates that prove relationships rather than hearsay from family members or friends, you know.

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The team knows that Ronald's brother's birth certificate

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is in Camden which is only a few miles away from where Ewart is.

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If he can get it, it will help them prove they're onto the right family.

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-PHONE RINGS

-Hello.

-'Listen, mate,'

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-I know you're on your way to Enfield but could you re-route and go to Camden register office?

-Right.

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What we want you to do is pick up a copy of

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a birth of a brother of the deceased, yeah? Our deceased. OK?

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Birth, death and marriage certificates are the tools of the heir hunters' trade.

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They contain a huge amount of information that can be used to build a case,

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including maiden names, parents' names, crucial dates, and even if someone was adopted.

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They are also needed as evidence to make a case to the Treasury solicitor on an heir's behalf.

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In the office, Gareth's research has had some mixed results.

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We found a very good marriage of Frederick Millar, two children,

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one's born in Salisbury and the other one is Islington.

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I like the Islington birth.

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The Salisbury one, however - well, it's not exactly our area

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so take that with a pinch of salt.

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It ties up with what we were told, but at the same time it's not quite right.

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But it might work out.

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If we get a phone call done, they'll be able to tell us if it's right or wrong.

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Gareth's record search through names and birth dates

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has thrown up a potential niece and nephew to Ronald.

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The very different locations of their births suggests that they may not both be right.

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But more than that, the names Christopher and Christine

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don't connect with the David Govey who Ewart has been told about.

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Before they call the potential nephew, Christopher,

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Ewart is on the way to the register office to get information to confirm they're onto the right family,

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and so the office is waiting with bated breath.

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-Ah, great. That certificate's ready.

-Yes, sir.

-Ah, lovely.

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Finding heirs to unclaimed estates can be a satisfying experience for heir hunters,

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even in the most ordinary cases, but at Heirtrace, a Suffolk-based company founded by Derek Rodbard,

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one of their specialist areas has a heightened importance -

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that of uniting dependents of Holocaust victims with long-lost family money.

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I've always been particularly interested in history of the 19th and 20th centuries,

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and that's tended to grow, and it tends to matter more and more to me.

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I'm careful not to be obsessive but it really does matter a lot

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that we go the extra mile to make sure that these people get what is due to them.

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The genocide of Jews in central and eastern Europe between 1939 and 1945

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was the culmination of a long campaign to systematically extinguish them from society,

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starting after Hitler came to power in 1933.

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The campaign began with Nazi laws to strip away Jewish rights, wealth

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and property, long before the first concentration camps were built.

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Derek's work to restore these assets to their rightful families

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begins with information sent to him from lawyers in Israel.

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After the war, when the state of Israel was set up,

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people would say, "Six million Jews were killed during World War II," and it trips off the tongue too easily.

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It becomes an impersonal statistic.

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Each one of these people was a person

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and so it was very strongly felt in Israel that, wherever possible,

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a record should be established of each individual person, so that they didn't just become sort of nothing.

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Each one of these people is represented on a sheet which is called the Yad Vashem sheet.

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As well as providing a tribute to each individual, the Yad Vashem sheets are like a death certificate.

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They are useful for the heir hunters because often a relative will be listed as the informant.

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In this particular case, the starting point was a Yad Vashem sheet

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sent to us by the lawyers in Tel Aviv,

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and it related to a certain Ernst Hornung

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who had been a solicitor... in Czechoslovakia.

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Ernst Hornung was a Jewish professional who had taken out

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a life insurance policy which had never been paid after his death,

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so there was lump sum outstanding

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which any surviving heirs would inherit if Derek could find them.

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These sheets, at the bottom, tend to have an informant who provided the information

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which then goes onto the sheet, and we work from the informants.

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In the case of the policy of Ernst Hornung,

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on the Yad Vashem sheet, there's a son detailed

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with an address in Wembley, and frankly we went straight to him.

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He's still living there.

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Ernst Hornung's son Otto was in line to inherit the insurance pay-out,

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along with any other surviving siblings if there were any.

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The financial value of the policy was still unknown.

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Usually the final settlement figure comes out anything from £20,000 to £50,000.

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But the money was of secondary concern to Otto Hornung.

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It could not in any way

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bring back my family's existence.

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We had been destroyed completely.

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We had nothing to our name. But I was very impressed

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that somebody took on this job, what Derek is doing.

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Otto is 89 and now lives with his wife Chi-Chi

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in Wembley in North London, although he was originally from Czechoslovakia.

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I've lived in Moravska Ostrava.

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It's the point where three countries meet

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and it was very big, very important

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because Ostrava sat on coal and there were mines everywhere.

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In 1939, Otto was 18 and still at school.

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All over Europe, storm clouds were brewing as world leaders

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tried to second guess Hitler's next move in the east.

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In Czechoslovakia, Otto's family's worst fears were confirmed

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when German tanks rolled into their home town

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of Moravska Ostrava in mid March.

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I was in a classroom and a boy came running up

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and shouted, "The Germans are here!"

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So everybody, all the kids,

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ran out to the square.

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When I saw the Germans soldiers sitting on the lorry in the back

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and holding a rifle between their hands,

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I wanted a rifle.

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I must get a rifle. How can I get it?

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Otto was a young man with fighting spirit

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and determined to join the fight against the Nazi invaders.

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With the help of his family, Otto escaped Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia

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to Poland, and joined an army of poorly equipped Czech soldiers

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who were gathering in the countryside.

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As Otto prepared to march against the Nazis,

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the situation in Czechoslovakia,

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where he had left his parents, was deteriorating.

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In 1939, Ernst Hornung's name

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was one amongst many prominent Czech Jews

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to appear on a deportation order to Poland

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while the extermination of the Eastern European Jews was still in its infancy.

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They must have made up a list of who will be deported,

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then they brought all those people together,

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put them at the railway station in cattle wagons,

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and, er...took them by train to Nisko.

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It was not a deportation of him personally.

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It was a deportation of a group

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of permanent Jewish people to occupied Poland.

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Unaware of his father's deportation,

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Otto was still with the Czech Legion

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who were moving away from Poland towards Romania

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to escape the Nazi army.

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They fell in with the Russian forces,

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who gave them valuable supplies.

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The reason why the Russians took care of us

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is because they expected an attack by Hitler

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and they needed every help,

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everyone who could fire a rifle,

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to help them.

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In 1941, Otto was given the thing he had dreamed about

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since the day Nazi tanks had rolled into his home town.

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It was a First World War issue rifle

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and it was kept for all those years

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and some unknown power had written my name on it!

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Each rifle was in a plastic packing.

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Not a holder, it was packing.

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And the rifles were full of grease,

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so I pulled out my rifle - I think I gave it a kiss -

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and started cleaning it.

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I cleaned it for about two days!

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The rifle was soon put to use

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as Otto served with the British Army in North Africa.

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He played a role in the Battle of Tobruk,

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a fiercely fought struggle

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for the control of this strategically important harbour.

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Towards the end of the war, he had also helped

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to push back the Nazi forces in France after the D-Day landings.

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It was a fantastic adventure.

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I loved every minute of it.

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Whilst Otto was fighting the Nazis, his father Ernst was fleeing them.

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After he had been deported to Nisko, he managed to escape German clutches

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and fled into the nearby city of Lvov in Russian-occupied Poland.

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Whilst there, he tried to keep a low profile.

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He tried to disappear in the crowds.

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He kept to his work.

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In the factory, he was one of the blue boys there.

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He really turned from a solicitor,

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from a man who is working with his brains,

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to a workman.

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At this stage, the Hornungs were scattered over Eastern Europe.

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Ernst was in Russian-occupied Poland,

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his wife and daughter were in Hungary,

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and Otto's Czech army unit were in modern-day Ukraine

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being trained by the Russians.

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But Ernst had managed to trace them all and remain in touch.

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My father wrote the first letter

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when he got to Lvov to me.

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I was very happy about that.

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He actually acted as a central post office because,

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when I wrote to him, he then sent the postcard to Mother,

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and vice versa.

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Even exiled and in hiding, through keeping them in touch,

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Ernst maintained his role as head of the family.

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He was the boss all his life.

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But he ruled, not with a fist,

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but with charm and a smile and soul.

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But the stability and comfort of knowing the whereabouts of his entire family wouldn't last long.

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The Nazis were on the march again.

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In 1941, Hitler flaunted his agreement with Stalin

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and advanced into Russian-occupied Poland

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where Otto's father was living.

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Ernst, along with the rest of the Jewish population in Lvov, was now in terrible danger.

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Could Ernst survive, and would his family ever see each other again?

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The once-vibrant,

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large community of Lvov was decimated.

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For every case that is solved, there are still thousands that stubbornly remain a mystery.

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Currently, over 3,000 names drawn from across the country are on the Treasury's unsolved case list.

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Their assets will be kept for up to 30 years

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in the hope that eventually someone will remember and come forward to claim their inheritance.

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With estates valued at anything from 5,000 to millions of pounds,

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the rightful heirs are out there somewhere.

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Could you be the key?

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Mary D'Arcy-Cordigan of Cheshire died in 2006.

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Does her unusual name ring a bell?

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Could you be the one person entitled to her estate?

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William Thomas Cozens died in Bedworth, Warwickshire, in 2006.

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The heir hunters have run out of leads.

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Do you know anything about him?

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Maybe he's your long-lost uncle or cousin.

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Could your help get to the heirs of Mary D'Arcy-Cordigan and William Cozens,

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and thousands of others just like these?

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Is there a fortune out there waiting for you?

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Fraser & Fraser are working on an estate that never made it onto the Treasury's list.

0:22:500:22:55

The case of Ronald Millar who died in Edgware in London came through a solicitor referral.

0:22:550:23:00

Ronald left £30,000 but died intestate.

0:23:000:23:05

He never left a will.

0:23:050:23:07

There is a reluctance to leave a will.

0:23:070:23:11

It's almost like you're probably signing your death warrant

0:23:110:23:15

or acknowledging, yes, I am mortal.

0:23:150:23:17

Alan, my colleague, was actually talking to Ron

0:23:170:23:21

about the necessity of having a will,

0:23:210:23:24

and they got so far as actually getting some attorneys to actually go to Ron's house.

0:23:240:23:29

They spent a few hours with Ron and eventually phoned Alan

0:23:290:23:33

who told me that he'd decided against it completely,

0:23:330:23:37

so a will was never set up.

0:23:370:23:39

These solicitors contacted the heir hunters in the hope that they could find heirs for Ronald.

0:23:390:23:44

So far, the team knows he had a brother, Frederick Millar,

0:23:440:23:47

who they think had two children, Christopher and Christine.

0:23:470:23:52

They've also been tipped-off that he was related to a David Govey

0:23:520:23:56

but they can't work out where he fits in.

0:23:560:23:58

To try and get to the bottom of the matter,

0:24:000:24:02

Ewart is at Camden register office to pick up the birth certificate of Ronald's brother

0:24:020:24:07

and make sure they're onto the right family.

0:24:070:24:09

Ah, great, that certificate's ready?

0:24:090:24:11

-Yes, sir.

-Ah, lovely.

0:24:110:24:13

In the office, they've got a number for a Christopher Millar, potentially Ronald's nephew,

0:24:130:24:19

but they've been holding off ringing until Ewart's call from the register office

0:24:190:24:23

confirms that they were right about Ronald having a brother.

0:24:230:24:27

-Bob Smith.

-I've now got the birth of Frederick.

0:24:280:24:33

-Yeah?

-Frederick Ramsey Millar...

0:24:330:24:35

-Yeah?

-Born 5th of July 1925.

0:24:350:24:40

Excellent.

0:24:400:24:41

His father was Frederick Walter Millar,

0:24:410:24:44

mother was Hilda Millar, formerly Sykes.

0:24:440:24:47

Good news. Ewart has now picked up the birth of the brother of the deceased,

0:24:480:24:53

which we were rather hoping was right.

0:24:530:24:55

It is indeed right.

0:24:550:24:57

The parents are the same, so now it looks a safe bet

0:24:570:25:02

to contact the nephew of the deceased who is the son of the brother,

0:25:020:25:07

and hopefully arrange an appointment for Ewart to go and see him today.

0:25:070:25:12

This is where certificates are invaluable

0:25:120:25:15

as the team now can prove that Ronald and Frederick were brothers.

0:25:150:25:18

If they can also prove that the potential niece and nephew they've found are Frederick's children,

0:25:180:25:24

they'll have found two heirs.

0:25:240:25:25

It's time to make the call.

0:25:250:25:27

Hello, is that Mr Millar?

0:25:290:25:30

We're trying to track down children of a gentleman by the name of Frederick Ramsey Millar.

0:25:300:25:37

Now, would that be your father?

0:25:370:25:39

Right. So your father's not Frederick Ramsey Millar born 1925?

0:25:420:25:47

OK. All right. I'm sorry to have troubled you.

0:25:470:25:50

Thanks very much. Bye-bye.

0:25:500:25:51

Well, it seems our diligent research has come up with the wrong family.

0:25:540:26:00

The fact that this particular Christopher Millar,

0:26:010:26:04

which seems to tie up with the birth that we'd identified, is wrong,

0:26:040:26:08

doesn't actually mean that the other birth

0:26:080:26:11

that we think goes with the marriage of our brother of the deceased is wrong also.

0:26:110:26:15

The sister was born in a completely different area to this chap,

0:26:150:26:19

so it may be that they're two different families.

0:26:190:26:21

Um...obviously we had a current address and a phone number for him,

0:26:210:26:26

so it was the obvious thing to give him a call,

0:26:260:26:28

but obviously, with a female,

0:26:280:26:30

there's a good chance that she'll have married and obviously have a different name.

0:26:300:26:34

So we're going to have to go back to the drawing board

0:26:340:26:39

and see if we can identify a marriage for her.

0:26:390:26:42

It seems the Christopher Millar they tracked down isn't related to Ronald's brother Frederick.

0:26:420:26:48

It may be that he didn't have two children, just one.

0:26:480:26:53

All hopes are now pinned on Christine being Frederick's daughter and Ronald's niece.

0:26:530:26:58

-'Hello, Ewart.'

-Hello, Bob.

0:26:580:27:00

I've been sitting here waiting, Bob, to try and find out if you've rung this heir or not.

0:27:000:27:05

Well, I put the phone down to him about five minutes ago.

0:27:050:27:08

-Oh, right.

-'He's wrong.'

-He's wrong?!

0:27:080:27:11

'He's wrong, yeah. But that doesn't mean that the sister's not right.'

0:27:110:27:15

Oh, right. Hold on a moment. I think we might have some news.

0:27:160:27:20

I'm just being passed something.

0:27:200:27:22

Ah, right, we've got the death of the brother of the deceased now, right?

0:27:220:27:26

Sorry, we've got the probate. OK?

0:27:260:27:28

And it names Christine Rose Govey

0:27:280:27:32

as...his daughter, so Christine...

0:27:320:27:39

is married to David.

0:27:390:27:41

All right? So this is a niece of the deceased, OK?

0:27:410:27:43

David's the son-in-law. OK, got it.

0:27:430:27:45

At last, the team have solved the Govey mystery.

0:27:470:27:51

Unlike Ronald, his brother Frederick did leave a will

0:27:510:27:56

and this has helped prove the case.

0:27:560:27:58

The will mentions his daughter Christine by her married name, Govey.

0:27:580:28:02

She is Frederick's only child and is Ronald's niece.

0:28:020:28:06

The mysterious David Govey was not Ronald's nephew, but Christine's husband,

0:28:060:28:11

and he is not entitled because he is not related to Ronald by blood.

0:28:110:28:15

The office has made the breakthrough and confirmed that Christine is the sole heir.

0:28:170:28:21

As they don't have a phone number for her, Ewart is heading off to call at her address.

0:28:210:28:28

Yeah, it's all come together very nicely.

0:28:280:28:31

Research has been good

0:28:310:28:33

and it's just a question of now whether the heir themselves is going to be willing to see us,

0:28:330:28:40

and then obviously enter into a contract with us,

0:28:400:28:44

so all the work we've undertaken will be, you know, worthwhile for us.

0:28:440:28:51

The trip is looking worthwhile so far, as Ewart has arrived

0:28:550:28:58

at Christine Govey's house,

0:28:580:29:00

and she and her husband are happy to meet him.

0:29:000:29:02

Did your father have any brothers and sisters?

0:29:050:29:10

Yes, he had one brother who was two years younger.

0:29:100:29:14

And his name was?

0:29:140:29:15

Ronald.

0:29:150:29:17

When was the last time you had contact with him?

0:29:170:29:21

Just after my father died, ten and a half years ago.

0:29:210:29:25

-Right.

-Strange man. And his cats.

0:29:250:29:29

Hundreds and hundreds of cats.

0:29:290:29:31

Christine didn't see her uncle for several years before his death.

0:29:310:29:36

However, she is keen to see the certificates Ewart has collected.

0:29:360:29:41

This is the birth of...

0:29:410:29:43

-Your father.

-My father. Yes.

0:29:430:29:45

You're saying 1925.

0:29:490:29:52

I thought he was born in 1926.

0:29:520:29:54

That's when he was born.

0:29:540:29:56

'25.

0:29:560:29:59

It's funny how things change slightly.

0:29:590:30:02

So you always thought it was 1926?

0:30:020:30:05

Yeah, always.

0:30:050:30:08

Christine is the sole heir to Ronald's £30000, something that

0:30:080:30:12

came as a surprise to her since she hadn't seen him for so long.

0:30:120:30:17

I didn't really know if I'd ever find out what happened to him,

0:30:170:30:21

to be honest, because we don't go in that area at all,

0:30:210:30:24

don't know of anybody down there.

0:30:240:30:27

All his neighbours - he had outlived everybody.

0:30:270:30:29

So there was no way we'd ever know what happened to him,

0:30:290:30:34

except now we do know.

0:30:340:30:37

And I just think it's very sad that there was nobody...

0:30:370:30:40

for him, near to him, you know.

0:30:400:30:44

Derek Rodbard of Heirtrace

0:30:500:30:52

works on uniting descendants of Holocaust victims

0:30:520:30:55

with money that belongs to their family.

0:30:550:30:57

One of his cases was that of Ernst Hornung, a Jewish solicitor

0:30:570:31:01

who left an unclaimed life insurance policy

0:31:010:31:04

which could be worth between £20,000 and £50,000.

0:31:040:31:08

We know that Ernst Hornung had a policy with Assicurazioni Generali.

0:31:090:31:15

It was appropriated, or I should say stolen, by Mussolini in 1938

0:31:150:31:20

and he dispossessed all the Jewish policy holders

0:31:200:31:24

and split the proceeds basically between himself and Hitler.

0:31:240:31:29

Ernst's assets had been stolen but, at this point in time,

0:31:300:31:33

this was the least of his worries.

0:31:330:31:35

He was on the run from the Nazis and had fled to Lvov

0:31:350:31:38

in Russian-occupied Poland.

0:31:380:31:40

The city had a strong connection with the Jewish community,

0:31:400:31:44

as Rabbi Marcus of the Central London Synagogue explains.

0:31:440:31:47

Lvov is known as a major Jewish centre.

0:31:500:31:54

In pre-war Europe,

0:31:540:31:56

it was known as a place of a very, very vibrant Jewish community,

0:31:560:32:02

extremely vibrant, with some very well-known personalities

0:32:020:32:06

who lived there, some very great scholars.

0:32:060:32:08

It was a place of learning and where there were books printed,

0:32:080:32:13

and certainly a very, very productive and positive place.

0:32:130:32:19

But in 1941, the Nazi army crossed over into Russian-occupied Poland

0:32:190:32:24

and into Lvov, which was known as Lemberg to the Germans.

0:32:240:32:28

This was a disaster for the Jewish community.

0:32:280:32:30

Massacres were carried out by both the departing Russians

0:32:300:32:34

and the advancing Germans in the city and the surrounding area.

0:32:340:32:37

The once-vibrant, large community of Lvov was decimated

0:32:380:32:45

and all those who'd had to flock there to find some kind of refuge

0:32:450:32:50

were wiped out when the ghetto was liquidated.

0:32:500:32:56

Otto Hornung, Ernst's son, knew his father was in danger

0:32:560:33:00

and found out what had happened to him

0:33:000:33:02

while he was fighting for the Allies in the Middle East.

0:33:020:33:05

My father had the faith of all the Jewish people

0:33:050:33:12

the Germans could get hold of in Lvov.

0:33:120:33:16

Lemberg.

0:33:160:33:18

And he was lined up with the others and was shot.

0:33:180:33:23

The loss of his father devastated Otto.

0:33:230:33:27

He was an inspiration in everything I did.

0:33:270:33:30

When he was not there, really I missed him.

0:33:300:33:33

That was one of the reasons why I wanted to fight the Germans -

0:33:330:33:41

my father.

0:33:410:33:43

Lvov had seemed a safe haven for Ernst,

0:33:430:33:46

but in fact it became the opposite.

0:33:460:33:48

By the end of the war, there were only an estimated 3,400 Jews

0:33:480:33:53

left in a city that had once boasted over 100,000.

0:33:530:33:58

When Derek realised that Ernst's assets could be restored

0:34:030:34:06

to his family, he contacted Otto immediately to inform him.

0:34:060:34:10

I wrote to Otto because we always write first so that people

0:34:100:34:13

have time to consider things, and he phoned me the next day.

0:34:130:34:18

We had a lengthy conversation and it rapidly became apparent

0:34:180:34:21

that he had the most amazing story to tell,

0:34:210:34:24

and not just from his point of view,

0:34:240:34:26

because his father had been very enterprising.

0:34:260:34:29

What's more, his mother was amazing, a most doughty fighter,

0:34:290:34:32

an incredibly brave woman.

0:34:320:34:34

She must have been the most amazing character.

0:34:340:34:37

While her husband was in Poland and her son fighting all over Europe,

0:34:410:34:45

Aranka Hornung, Otto's mother,

0:34:450:34:47

was left to look after her daughter Kitty in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

0:34:470:34:52

It was becoming an increasingly dangerous place for a Jewish woman,

0:34:520:34:55

and a letter from her sister in Hungary prompted her to drastic action.

0:34:550:35:00

She had to have the permission of the Germans to go to Hungary

0:35:010:35:07

and therefore she went to the Gestapo.

0:35:070:35:10

She dressed up as if she was going to a ball

0:35:100:35:15

and she used her best perfume.

0:35:150:35:18

She looked like a film star.

0:35:180:35:23

As a Jewish woman entering the Gestapo headquarters to ask to leave the country,

0:35:230:35:27

Aranka could not have been making herself more visible

0:35:270:35:30

in a time when keeping a low profile could make the difference between life and death.

0:35:300:35:35

And she said,

0:35:370:35:39

"Major, please,

0:35:390:35:42

"could I have a permit

0:35:420:35:45

"to travel with my daughter to Hungary?"

0:35:450:35:51

The colonel looked at her and said,

0:35:510:35:54

"I am not an absolute idiot, but I'll tell you something.

0:35:540:35:59

"I shall give you the permit for only one reason."

0:35:590:36:04

"I admire your courage."

0:36:060:36:09

Once in Hungary, Aranka knew that she and her daughter Kitty

0:36:090:36:13

still weren't safe, but help was at hand

0:36:130:36:16

in the form of a renegade Swedish diplomat called Raoul Wallenberg.

0:36:160:36:20

Raoul Wallenberg, for us, is one of the great heroes,

0:36:220:36:27

one of the great men of courage,

0:36:270:36:29

the man who not only saved people but saved our faith in humanity.

0:36:290:36:34

Raoul Wallenberg's work to save thousands of Jews in Hungary

0:36:360:36:39

was to have a direct impact on the Hornung family.

0:36:390:36:42

He was driven by...

0:36:440:36:48

the finest and most noble of all human drives,

0:36:480:36:52

and that is the value of human life.

0:36:520:36:55

They created all these safe homes where Jews were put with others,

0:36:550:37:01

he gave out these special documents which allowed them free passage,

0:37:010:37:07

because basically all these Hungarian Jews now became Swedish citizens.

0:37:070:37:12

That was what he in fact did by handing out these documentations

0:37:120:37:16

so that the Germans couldn't actually transport them.

0:37:160:37:19

By 1944, over 400,000 Jews had been transported from Hungary

0:37:190:37:25

to the death camps in Poland.

0:37:250:37:28

The ship's passes that Wallenberg issued to thousands of Hungarian Jews

0:37:280:37:32

identified the bearers as Swedish citizens awaiting repatriation,

0:37:320:37:36

which prevented them from being deported,

0:37:360:37:39

sometimes at the very final moment.

0:37:390:37:42

He was also seen at the train station

0:37:420:37:45

where people were already on transports

0:37:450:37:50

and, despite obvious threat to his own life from German officers,

0:37:500:37:54

was actually handing out these visas, these documents,

0:37:540:37:57

to people on the trains and pulling them off the train.

0:37:570:38:00

According to most historians and others,

0:38:000:38:03

he probably managed to give out documents

0:38:030:38:07

and save close to 100,000 human beings.

0:38:070:38:12

Otto's mother Aranka obtained papers from Wallenberg

0:38:120:38:16

which meant she could live in a Swedish-owned safe house.

0:38:160:38:20

That is the so-called Swedish passport of Wallenberg.

0:38:200:38:26

He has signed it and...

0:38:270:38:31

It gives the name, the date of birth, and where she was born,

0:38:330:38:38

and she signed it in the name of Doctor -

0:38:380:38:43

as she was advised it would be more important -

0:38:430:38:47

Doctor Aranka Hornung.

0:38:470:38:51

Why he is a hero is because he didn't have to do what he did.

0:38:510:38:56

He didn't have to be in Hungary in the first place.

0:38:560:38:58

He could've easily sat out the war years in Sweden,

0:38:580:39:02

but he chose to do what he did, to go to Budapest

0:39:020:39:06

at a time when the situation was extremely critical,

0:39:060:39:10

for Jewish people mainly, and he did what he did.

0:39:100:39:14

So, if you want a real hero, look at Wallenberg.

0:39:140:39:19

In Marylebone in London, a statue of Wallenberg

0:39:190:39:22

pays tribute to his amazing achievement.

0:39:220:39:25

He stands tall on 100,000 ship's passes,

0:39:250:39:28

each representing a life saved.

0:39:280:39:30

Amongst them, Aranka and Kitty Hornung.

0:39:300:39:34

By the time the war had ended,

0:39:380:39:41

Otto hadn't seen his sister or mother for six years.

0:39:410:39:45

I did all I could to get the family together.

0:39:450:39:50

I came to the house of my uncle where she was staying.

0:39:500:39:55

She saw me but she didn't recognise me,

0:39:550:40:00

so I said, "How are you, Mother?"

0:40:000:40:03

and went over and gave her a kiss.

0:40:030:40:06

That's how I found her.

0:40:060:40:09

Having united his family, Otto went back to Czechoslovakia

0:40:100:40:14

and worked as a journalist, but life was tough in his now-Communist homeland,

0:40:140:40:19

and he moved to England in the 1960s, where he remained.

0:40:190:40:23

Today, Derek is going to see Otto to finalise details

0:40:320:40:36

so that he can act on his behalf to claim the money

0:40:360:40:40

from his father, Ernst Hornung's insurance policy.

0:40:400:40:43

It'll be the first time the two have met.

0:40:430:40:46

I'm very excited that I'm actually going to meet Otto in person.

0:40:480:40:52

The striking thing about the Hornung family

0:40:520:40:55

is the strength of character of all of them.

0:40:550:40:58

Sometimes we say a family was very strong and so on,

0:40:580:41:02

but basically we may mean the mother or the father

0:41:020:41:06

but, in this case, every single family member...

0:41:060:41:10

fought, and showed huge strength of character.

0:41:100:41:13

This is the thing, Otto, which I find so really inspiring.

0:41:220:41:26

You went through all these things during the war,

0:41:260:41:28

a huge lot of things during the war.

0:41:280:41:30

You faced up to the most amazing situations.

0:41:300:41:33

In other words, you survived, and we admire survivors, of course.

0:41:330:41:37

And I've dealt with a lot of cases like this, and yours is unique

0:41:370:41:41

in the sense that three members of your family have survived.

0:41:410:41:46

I deal with lots of cases where only one has survived

0:41:460:41:49

because they came on the Kindertransport or something like that,

0:41:490:41:53

but for virtually all the family to survive except your father is truly remarkable.

0:41:530:41:59

With Otto's mother and sister now deceased,

0:42:000:42:03

he is the sole beneficiary.

0:42:030:42:05

Until the claim comes back, he won't know how much it is worth,

0:42:050:42:09

but Derek's work to unite Otto with his father's assets

0:42:110:42:14

has a value far beyond the monetary gain.

0:42:140:42:17

I was surprised that this exists

0:42:170:42:21

and I was very happy, not because of the money,

0:42:210:42:25

but because of the fact that I was given back

0:42:250:42:29

a piece of my father's work,

0:42:290:42:32

and that is why I appreciate Derek's work so much.

0:42:320:42:37

Derek is looking after the little man.

0:42:370:42:42

Honesty is returning to this world.

0:42:420:42:47

If you would like advice about building a family tree

0:42:510:42:54

or making a will, go to...

0:42:540:42:57

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:090:43:12

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:120:43:15

The heir hunters are on the trail of families entitled to the estates of people who have died without a will. Often that can mean a windfall of thousands of pounds.

Ronald Millar died aged 80. After a shocking incident four years before his death, Ronald became a recluse, his only contact with the outside world coming through volunteers who helped him with shopping. But he left behind an estate worth £30,000, and the Fraser team is soon in a race against time to find any descendants.

At Heirtrace in Suffolk, Derek Rodbard is working to trace the descendants of people killed during the Holocaust - the systematic genocide of the Jews by the Nazis. Focusing on Ernst Hornung, a Jewish professional who was killed leaving a still-unpaid life insurance policy, he soon discovers a son, Otto. But for Otto, the money is of secondary importance.

As Derek delves deeper, a tale emerges of incredible courage and tenacity, of a family determined to maintain its unity despite being torn apart by events, and of a Swedish diplomat's extraordinary efforts to save the lives of 100,000 people.


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