Hella Pick was born in Vienna, Austria into a middle-class Jewish family. Her parents divorced when she was three years old, and she was brought up by her mother. Following Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938, and a visit from the Gestapo, Pick’s mother decided to leave Austria. Pick was put on a Kindertransport and arrived in Britain in March 1939. Her mother obtained a visa and joined her three months later.
Pick went to school in the Lake District and learned English. Feeling awkward about her identity, for a while she refused to speak German at all, even with her mother. In 1948, Pick became a British citizen and she no longer felt herself to be a refugee.
Pick studied at the London School of Economics. In 1960, she became the UN correspondent of The Guardian newspaper where she was tutored by its chief US correspondent Alistair Cooke. She has also written for the New Statesman. Her successful career as a journalist and writer led to her being honoured with a CBE in 2000. In Germany she became known for her appearance on the TV shows Internationales Frühschoppen and Presseclub.
Pick is the Arts & Culture Programme Director at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, an independent think-tank based in London. She has dual British and Austrian citizenship, and visits Austria regularly, her “home away from home”.
The Guardian News & Media Archive contains an oral history of her time on the paper in the 1960s and 1970s as well as a written memoir Invisible Walls, an account of her life and career journalism, was published in 2021.
Books in order of publication:
Simon Wiesenthal: A Life in Search of Justice, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1996
Guilty Victim – Austria from the Holocaust to Haider, I B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2000
Invisible Walls, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2021