Childhood shelter in war .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Spending the majority of their childhood in Turkey played a big part in shaping their futures and turning them into the successful people that they are today, said the sons and daughters of the Jewish scientists who immigrated to Turkey during the 1933 university reform.

Speaking at a conference held at Istanbul’s Bilgi University last week, Enver Tandogan Hirsh, the son of Professor Ernest Hirsch, explained how his father had come to Istanbul in the 1930s after being excluded from all political, social and cultural parts of German life by the Nazis.

In 1933, Turkey set out on a crash process of reforming its legal and health care delivery systems as well as its system of higher education, with help from refugees fleeing the Nazis. Enver Hirsh, who was named after the famous Turkish general and architect of the Ottoman-German alliance, Enver Paşa, said that his father made a great contribution as a professor at Istanbul University during the reforms and having spoken to his father’s students, he found that his father was an admired and remembered figure. "The Turkish Republic gave us the right to live freely and I will always have and will be proud of my Turkish roots. I know I would not be the same man today if I had not lived in Turkey," Hirsh said.

Elisabeth Weber-Belling, Hirsch's daughter, also spoke about her childhood experiences in Turkey at the conference. Weber-Belling, who lived in Istanbul until the age of 20, said her father’s profession as a professor of fine arts opened windows of opportunities for her to participate in the cultural life of Istanbul. Kurt Heilbronn, the son of Professor Alfred Heilbronn explained how his father was invited by Turkey to serve as a professor of botany at the University of Istanbul. All three speakers said that they aimed to write books about their father's and their experiences in Istanbul.