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Dorothy Behrman

15 Kislev 5665 (23 November 1904)
28 Kislev 5754 (12 December 1993)

Basic Information

Unique reference:
Other first name:
Other surname:


Date of birth:
15 Kislev 5665 (23 November 1904)
Place of birth:


Date of death:
28 Kislev 5754 (12 December 1993)
Died in combat?:
Place of death:



Parents' home:
25 Pembridge Crescent London (1900)
Family home:
54 Porchester Terrace Bayswater, London (1902)
Family home:
Number 6, the Boltons Old Brompton Road, London (1908)
Family home:
Meopham Park Hildenborough, Kent (1911)


London School of Economics

Other Organisations

Guider for Deaf Guides - East London
East London Child Guidance Clinic
Founder Dr Emmanuel Miller convinced her to train in Psychiatric work


Liberal Jewish Synagogue
United Synagogue, Cricklewood
 < Close personal journey map
Personal Journey map
Dorothy Behrman

Affluent upbringing, 1910

A cook, maids and nurses were employed to help Clare. The little girls, Alice and Doris often played with their nurse in Kensington and Charles was one of the first to own an electric car.

In 1910 he moved his family to the quiet village of Hildenborough in Kent and Reggie was born there in 1911. The house, Meopham Park, which he bought was large and set in 120 acres of land. Charles' business was on the whole successful and he became a Freemason and was elected to the Worshipful Company of Musicians. The children were taught by a governess and Charles commuted to London each day.

Death of Charles and financial crisis, 06 June 1913

Just four weeks short of his 42nd birthday, one Friday evening, Charles set off to drive to Tonbridge Station to meet a friend of the London train but never arrived. The next morning, he was found drowned in his car which had somehow crashed into the River Medway from the Ensfield bridge at Leigh. Clare was left with three children, Alice aged 11, Doris 8 and Reggie not quite 2.

Charles' death meant a considerable family financial crisis, as it came at the time of heavy declines in stock market values. There is some suggestion that his partner, who was an executor of his will, may have incurred debts himself and decamped to South Africa with the money. At any rate, it appears although Charles left a large estate, after paying creditors there was little left for the bereaved family.

From being well off, the family found themselves in a state of comparative poverty. Within six weeks, the house was sold to pay outstanding debts, the car was sold, the furniture was put in store and the household staff were let go. Clara decided to move her family back to London. It was no longer financially possible to employ staff and during the next year the family moved four times to various rented furnished boarding houses in different parts of Hampstead.

The effect of the war on the children

In 1917, as the intensity of the air raids over London increased, the family moved to Bexhill where Reggie, aged 6, was sent to boarding school and Alice and Doris finished their education at another school nearby. They were undoubtedly affected by the war and Doris always remembered how she felt on hearing that the brother of one of her classmates had been killed in action.

Beginning her career

Doris was particularly musical and would have loved to study music or even medicine when she left school, however there was no money for this so she trained as a secretary and worked in the City. She did not enjoy this work and volunteered her free time to run a Girl Guide troop at the LJS before becoming a leader for deaf guides in the East End of London.

Through working in this area, she became involved with the East London Child Guidance Clinic, the first institution of its kind in London founded in 1926 by Dr Emmanuel Miller, an eminent child psychiatrist. He encouraged Doris to study at LSE for a diploma in social work and following this she trained to become one of the first psychiatric social workers in the country.

Meeting and marrying her husband, 1940

She began working at the Child Guidance Clinic at Guys Hospital and in 1940 met Simon Behrman, a consultant physician. He was initially uncertain whether Doris was Jewish until one day he asked her out and she commented that it was the Day of Atonement.

They were engaged later that year and Simon's parents were ken that the wedding should take place in the United Synagogue at Cricklewood, which they were founding members of. However, they were so delighted that he had found a Jewish bride that they agreed to attend a wedding at LJS.

Unfortunately, the night before the wedding in 1940 LJS was bombed. Although the Church across the road offered its building to hold services for the Synagogue, a church wedding was a step too far for Simon's parents and they were consequently married at United Synagoge, Cricklewood.



Simon Behrman (male)
Place of marriage:
United Synagogue in Cricklewood
Country of marriage:


Joan Mushin (female)
Geoffrey Behrman (male)
Robert Behrman (male)
Margaret Behrman (female)


Alice Engelbert (female)
Reggie (Renny) Engelbert (male)


Father: Karl (Charles) Engelbert (male)
Mother: Clara (Clare) Katzenstein (female)

Other Occupations

Type of employment:
Child Guidance Clinic
Psychiatric social worker
Guys Hospital

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London Jews in the First World War - We Were There Too

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