MOURNERS gathered at Huddersfield Town Hall from all over the world for the funeral service of Lady Margaret Kagan.
Family and friends travelled from countries including the USA, Israel, Austria and Lithuania to celebrate the life of Lady Kagan, who died at her home in Redwood Drive, Bradley, on March 31.
One by one, those that had known her paid tribute to this “amazing lady” in a dignified and moving ceremony presided over by civil funeral celebrant Janice Hutton.
She was known by many names: Margaret, Mara, Lady Kagan, Lady K, but there was only one person allowed to call her Maggie.
This was her best friend Liesl Johnson, who first met the late business tycoon Joseph and Margaret Kagan in 1945 when the couple walked into the United Press building in Bucharest.
She said: “Joseph spoke English, Margaret and I spoke in German and she told a story that left me stunned.
“At that time it was my job to speak on war atrocities, but she spoke only of the goodness she had encountered. She showed no hatred.
“Margaret never tired of speaking of her wonderful youth, every impression lovingly remembered, even though it lasted only 15 or 16 years before the ghetto. She loved greatly and deeply.”
Former Soviet citizen Dr Victor Shtern travelled from Boston, USA, to recount how Margaret had helped him and his wife to flee from “the cage behind the Iron Curtain.”
He said that her humanitarian acts spoke for themselves: “She showered her love, forgiveness and desire for peace on so many. People like Mara restore our belief in humanity, despite all the cruelty that is going around.”
Several speakers spoke of Lady Kagan’s inner strength and great energy. All spoke of her unshakeable love for her fellow human beings.
Lady Kagan instigated and ran the Kirklees International Festival in 1975 and did much work over the years to improve community and race relations within Kirklees.
Ann Virginia Jones spoke of how she had come to Yorkshire more than 40 years ago with her mother and family after her parents had split up. She had failed her 11 plus, but went on to win a scholarship provided by the Kagans.
Lady Kagan had taken the time to meet her, and later her children, numerous times and had been an inspirational mentor to Mrs Jones.
There were three moving musical tributes during the ceremony. Internationally-renown violinist Dora Schwarzberg travelled from Vienna to play two hauntingly beautiful pieces by Bach. For the second, Andante, she was accompanied on viola by daughter Nora.
Rudi Leavor from Bradford Synagogue gave a piercingly clear rendition of the traditional Jewish mourning song, his lone voice filling the Town Hall auditorium.
Violetta Shtromas, widow of Lady Kagan’s beloved brother Alik, sang “If I Had Words” with passion.
Son Daniel, a state representative for Colorado, USA, said that in a lifetime if you met one or two remarkably people, you were lucky.
“My mother was one of those remarkable people and we are all lucky to have known such a woman.”
Many floral tributes were received, including ones from Lady Mary Wilson and Lady Marcia Falkender.
A burial service followed at Rose Hill Burial Ground.