personal data

Pick Vera Ruth

Birth Name
First Name
Vera Ruth
Date of Birth
Place of birth
Other family members

Parents: Dr. Arthur Pick and Bertha née Hammerstein
Siblings: Werner Rolf Theodor
Spouse: Otto Helbig (1. marriage), Fred Dee (Durschnitz) (2. marriage), Thomas Gregg-Anderson (3. marriage)


Kurhausstraße 6 (older count - nowadays 11)


Summer 1934 emigrated to U.K.

Date of death
Place of death


Pick Vera Ruth

Vera Pick was born on October 22, 1906, in Charlottenburg as the daughter of the doctor and owner of a sanatorium Dr Arthur Pick and his wife Bertha, née Hammerstein. She spent the first years of her life in Carlsbad/ Bohemia where her father practiced as a spa doctor. Her parents came from Jewish families but both of them were baptized and belonged to the evangelical religious community. They also had their two children baptized. As consequence, the family didn’t have a connection with the Jewish religion and tradition any longer. 

At the end of 1908, the family moved to Bad Kissingen and the parents established an internationally acknowledged sanatorium for cardiovascular gastrointestinal diseases, nervous disorders as well as metabolic and eating disorders there in Kurhausstraße 6 (old – nowadays 11). Dr Pick was responsible for the medical direction of the sanatorium and Vera’s mother managed the house and the kitchen.

In 1913, her younger brother Werner Rudolf Theodor was born in the spa town. In spite of the war and the inflation following it, she and Werner had a happy childhood. Although her parents were very strict, particularly her father, they were pampered by the guests and the staff of the sanatorium and relished the amenities and the excellent service of the house. During the spa season, they actually saw their busy parents only during mealtimes. In the winter months, however, when the sanatorium was closed their parents often rented an apartment in the Alps (Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberstdorf, Berchtesgaden), where they could enjoy a normal family life in cosy surroundings. You could go tobogganing, sort of skiing (in absence of any lifts) and go for walks. 

As her parents didn’t find a suitable school for Vera, they sent their daughter to Odenwaldschule in Heppenheim which had been founded in 1910 and was regarded as a flagship school of reform pedagogy. Nevertheless, Vera had problems – as her brother writes in his memories – “to accept even the limited discipline demanded by this school. As a consequence, she quitted it as soon as that was acceptable for the parents and the school board. She was highly intelligent but lacked diligence. Because of that, she had many careers in her life – but none of them was really successful” (Werner Pick, My Memoirs, Claygate, August 2002).

In 1925, when she was just 19, she moved to Stettin and married Otto Helbig, a bank director many years her senior. He was transferred Beuthen a short time later and the relocation to the Upper Silesian coalfield must have been a terrible experience for Vera. After about a year her marriage went to pieces and in 1930, she took up using her original family name of Pick again. 

Temporarily, she took up living with her parents in Bad Kissingen again. At the beginning of the 1930s, she also lived in Elberfeld and Cologne and worked as an “office worker” according to her Bad Kissingen registration card. Later, she tried to make a living as an artiste and played small parts in cabarets. 

Her brother helped her to get to England in the summer of 1934, where she first stayed in his apartment in West Hampstead (London) for some time. Werner Pick described her as “rather attractive, highly intelligent and good at everything she tried to do but she never stayed long with what she did and often changed her job” (ibid.).

When Germany started the war in 1940, she was imprisoned – just like her father and her brother –as an “enemy alien” for several months.

The rest of her life was also spent without any permanent luck neither in her job nor privately. After her release, she first worked as a secretary and made the acquaintance of Fred Dee (originally Durschnitz) from Czechoslovakia. They married and tried to establish an import/export business after the war but without any success. Their marriage was also divorced after few years.

Her third marriage with Tom Johnson, a Scottish engineer also denied her the luck she had hoped for. They opened a chocolate factory in the County of Norfolk which failed just like a delicatessen they opened later. In the last years of their marriage, they lived separately. Vera Pick died in 1989 in a private nursing home in Shipdham/ Norfolk. 


Meldeakten Stadt Bad Kissingen (Meldekarten, Familienbogen,Hausakte) 
Werner Pick, Memoirs, Claygate, August 2002 (The source was kindly provided by the Pick family)
Werner Pick, Aufsatz zum Verhältnis der Familie zum Judentum (The source was kindly provided by the Pick family)
Werner Rolf Theodor Pick in memoriam in: Die Pforte, Schulpforta Nachrichten Zeitschrift des Pförtner Bundes e.V., Nr. 70, S. 67 -71externer Link

Photo credits

© Robert Pick